Retro PC Review: Might and Magic Dark Messiah
Might and Magic is a game synonymous with PC RPGs, and most people tend to remember the Turn Based Strategy game, Heroes of Might and Magic. But even longer ago, the M&M brand was known for being a first person western RPG, where you would make a part of adventurers, and explore the vast realms with your allies. Dark Messiah is a hearkening back to that era, although you won't have another four dudes at your side to fling spells and arrows.
So what's it about?
To be honest the story is pretty generic WRPG fare. You are a mage's apprentice, you need to find some magical macguffin, and deliver it somewhere, an ancient evil may or may not awake, etc etc etc. BUT! Things tend to take a much different turn than usual in this game. The main character has a voice in his head, and no idea what it is or where it's coming from for a large portion of the game, which adds a nice level of "what's going on" for a little while.
Next, there's no "level" in the traditional sense. The only way to increase your skills and spells is to accomplish objectives, and finding secret areas. Doing so awards you skill points, which allow you to learn skills and spells. Some of these are even prerequisites for certain items. My personal favorite spell is called freeze. It doesn't actually harm an enemy. Instead, instead coating a patch of the floor with thick, slippery ice. Used in the right places, this leads to hilarious ragdoll hijinks, enemies falling down or off high places, and a great place to get the jump on a group of enemies.
Xana, one of the major characters you come across in your journeys.
Is the combat any good?
The combat is great. If you like Skyrim, you will either hate this game or love it. Spamming the basic attack against even the earliest enemies in this game will leave you seeing the game over screen quite often. Instead, you have several ways of fighting. First, power attacks while moving let you do different weapon attacks. Lunges, stabs, chops, disarms--it's all about how you attack, what you attack with, and where you aim. The battlefield itself is another weapon in your arsenal. Kicking enemies into traps, spikes, fires and pits is satisfying and bloody. Sneaking around, felling foes with bow and blade quietly is another easy play style to learn, and the satisfaction of clearing the last unaware enemy with a throwing dagger from across the room to the back of the head feels great.
To help you really feel the hero of the story, you also have the adrenaline meter, which when full allows to you execute an instant kill with a melee weapon, which is satisfyingly brutal and effective, while magic spells get an immense power charge. Fireballs are bigger, Telekinesis lets you throw a living enemy around the room, and Weaken shrinks your foes to a size where your mighty boot can smush an enemy like a cock roach. And the boot, oh the boot! I don't care what the game says. No weapon, spell, or artifact is a match for the strength of your heroes mighty leather clad feet.
Sound crazy! What should I get it on?
Well, PC snob that I am, I'd recommend getting it for your computer. The game will look and run better than on the 360, the and mods are always a plus. But then again, this is one of those few games that works really, really well on a controller, and is great to both play and watch. I think both parties are winners.
Regardless, this dusty hidden gem is a must buy, and worth every penny. Who needs a magic shout when I can kick people just as hard?