Few MMORPGs set themselves up for grandure. Even fewer meet the marketing blitz campaign, but Farland Entertainment's certainly meets up to the moniker of largest game ever. In fact, it could possibly be too large. With majestic mountain tops, frozen tundras, and a scattered forestland, Dark and Light captures the true essence of landscape beauty.
As stated above, Dark and Light's largest asset is its beautiful landscapes. The entire game takes place in a very large world that covers a massive 40,000 square kilometres. For our non-metric friends in the United States, that is exactly 25,000 square miles of beautiful earthscape to travel, which is a little larger than the state of West Virginia. To travel this large game, the player is given multiple modes of transportation. The first mode of transport would be to walk, which proves to be both time-consuming and scenic. Gondolas are a second mode of transportation, giving every user the ability to go up the highest of mountains in minutes. A third mode of transportation is the high-flying balloons, but these are limited as you can only go from the takeoff point to a landing point. Yet another form of transportation in Dark and Light is the equally beautiful hang glider, which can reward the player with some breathtaking graphics. The next mode of transportation comes in the form of mountable animals, like massive dragons that must be fed periodically. The final, and most fun, mode of transportation is the very unique shield sledding that can get you down massive mountains in mere seconds.
"Dark and Light captures the true essence of landscape beauty"
Sadly, battles in Dark and Light do not share the same beauty as the land on which they happen. Thanks to choppy animations, the enemy will often end up sliding up to you instead of actually sludging through the snow to attack. Spells, though massively animated, look less flashy and more like an experiment with lens flares in Photoshop. Combat is less about strategy and more about exploiting bad engines, as the player must first find the monster to target it. A single click on the monster brings up the information for that monster, giving options of attack. If the player manages to survive against a difficult monster long enough to find them in the enveloping darkness, they may just die trying to figure out how to attack. Luckily, a double click will allow an automatic attack. Just watch out for skinny monsters like skeletons, as they are very difficult to click on once, let alone twice.
Another fallback for Dark and Light is its massive size. Upon playing the beta for over two weeks, this writer only spotted two other players. With the massiveness of the world of Ganareth, parties may be most difficult to find for a player. Skills are somewhat comprehensive for the classes, but are also very limited depending on the class. For example, a healer class will not be able to use the skills of an offensive fighter. In an attempt to add some depth to the world, Dark and Light has added as many as twelve classes ranging in size from miniscule faeries to gigantic trolls. At the time of beta testing, only four elvan races and the human race were available for play.
Characters are, as stated, part of a large group of classes. From these large races come many different customizations, but the beta lacked these changes in look. Instead, the player is left with only 5 races of generic appearance. Though the models are convincingly real, the beta simply lacks enough choices on custom character building. Equipment is, thankfully, unique for every piece, displaying both uniquely and clearly. Even the shield is detailed with different emblems.
In the end, this beta lacks every feature that makes an MMORPG the genre of great ideas. The beta lacks any noticable quest implementation, the developers have decreed that there will be no cave indoor areas, and NPCs are completely absent. Finding another player to trade with is almost a quest in itself inside the large world of Ganareth. Though it does show tremendous amounts of promise, the beta's gameplay doesn't seem to offer anything more than pretty landscapes and multiple forms of transportation. Though the game has many pitfalls, it is still very early into its beta life. Stay tuned for more impressions as new features are added to the world of Dark and Light.