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Ekna is an exorcist monk. Solitary, mysterious, he has learned all the fundamental knowledge of mental energy and masters the power of prayer. He is a higher initiate of "The Gate". This ultra-secret organization regularly sends him on the most perilous missions involving the paranormal. His spiritual powers enable him to unravel the darkest investigations, confronting powerful horrors with his combat magic, medium powers and warrior spells to solve the missions with subtlety or using brute force.
Guardian of Darkness puts the player in control of Ekna the exorcist monk in a quest to uncover supernatural mysteries. The gameplay is a mixture of many different genres including adventure, shoot-em-up, puzzle, RPG and action. In fact had the missions lasted 45 minutes each way, with a pit stop for hand to hand combat at half time, then this could have been the ultimate game. It doesn't, therefore it's not.
Sound and Vision:
When Guardian of Darkness was originally released on PC format the graphics, as you would expect from the French development team known as Cryo, were rated quite highly. Sadly we Playstation gamers have experienced titles such as Resident Evil, Silent Hill and more recently Dino Crisis, which all leave these visuals looking rather tired and dated.
When stating that the game characters are 'rather stiff' it doesn't mean I'm insinuating that they all react like corpses. Far from it! Ekna races across the screen at a commendable frame rate as do the many ghosts that inhabit the levels. It's just that the exorcist monk appears to be travelling along on roller skates... but he has yet to learn how to take corners. Walking from one side of a room to another is a simple enough task but guiding him around the many obstacles that litter an area is such a slow process. When turning left or right he stops... folds his arms... waiting for the player to point him in the desired direction before setting off again.
It's all a bit inconsistent. Some of the game characters have been nicely animated as they fidget, nod their head, sway side to side and gesticulate by waving their arms around when talking. Others have clearly been cut out from a magazine, pasted onto a large piece of cardboard and then are shaken about a little to show signs of life.
Much of the scenery does look impressive, however sluggish camera positioning ruins the overall effect. The game is viewed from the third person perspective (similar to Resident Evil) and while the camera does it's best to keep up with the main character's actions it often lacks intelligence when faced with obstacles. This is most annoying when in the heat of a battle with a tenacious poltergeist the camera gets stuck behind a pile of crates, or a piece of machinery, leaving the player totally blind to oncoming attacks.
Speech excerpts are confidently acted out (and also appear on screen to read); while the music bares similarities to that heard on the X-Files TV series and dramatically adds to the haunting atmosphere.
To help the player get started an elder Guardian named William Burnst is initially on hand. He will wander the opening levels offering a few clues as to which spell is best cast in certain situations. William's purpose is to quickly train Ekna into a fully-fledged Guardian. Make full use of this assistant because he is soon to be killed off leaving the semi-trained monk all alone in this world packed with ghosts, ghouls and demons.
Before each mission Ekna the exorcist monk returns to the Tenebrans. This is a room where the Organization may be contacted for a new set of orders. After a brief description of the upcoming mission the room may be searched for special weapons. These may be extra items such as hand-grenades or upgrades that will boost the power of regular spells.
Controlling Ekna the monk is a simple process. The D-pad, or left analog stick, guides him around the levels. Face buttons are used to run, open doors, cast a spell and take or give. Spells are divided into two categories, Medium and Warrior Spells, which may be scrolled through by using the shoulder buttons. An inventory screen holds each item collected which may at any time be browsed, stored or selected for use. Find a level map and it can be accessed at any time.
The objective of the game is to investigate each given situation to discover and then destroy the paranormal powers, which exist in that particular location. It all begins in the pre Colombian Antiquities Department of the Boston Museum, which has been the scene of some strange and disturbing phenomena.
By wandering through the museum Ekna will come across a number of clues to help solve the mystery. The discovery of keys allows access to previously locked rooms. Occasionally the player will see a key or an object but not be able to collect it. The reason for this is because a spirit force most probably is holding it down. To release the key or object the spirit must be revealed then defeated by using a spell.
Medium Spells include wonders such as a Trance which contacts the entity spirits, a See Spirit to visualize them or an Exorcism to release objects before handling them.
Medium Spells include wonders such as a Trance that contacts the entity spirits, a See Spirit to visualize them or an Exorcism to release objects before handling them.
Warrior Spells include a Blast Positive used to shoot bolts of energy towards the spirits, perform a Send to energize spirits and Erase Tendris which shows up energy matter. Should Ekna take too much damage then a Heal Spell will perform a health boost while a Drain Spell re-charges his energy for performing spells.
The puzzles are not too difficult to solve and after moving through six levels I became totally bored with the gameplay. I began avoiding the spirits rather than taking them on because destroying them was such a slow and awkward process, which usually drained Ekna's energy quickly.
This is a single disk game for 1 Player. It is compatible with the standard (digital) joypad and the dual shock (analog) joypad. Games can be saved via memory card (1 block per save).
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