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Darkened Skye

Published by Oxygen Interactive
Developed by Simon & Schuster/Boston Animation
Platform: PC CD-ROM
Released - Out Now
Price : £19.99

Games based on a commercial product are always going to run the risk of simply being a glorified interactive advert. Thankfully though when the product has been cleverly blended into the gameplay then it doesn't represent a problem. Of course the product we're talking about in Darkened Skye is the confectionary called Skittles. Darkened Skye represents a good use of a product within a game and at no point does it seem like an advert. Let's get on with the review.

You control Skye, a Shepherdess (not of sheep but of Dwentils) who is bored of her day to day existence. Skye resides in the land of Lynlora. Back in the old days a great rainbow filled the sky and mysterious artifacts, that have magical properties, called Skittles were to be found everywhere. Unfortunately that has now all changed, the rainbow has gone and the evil Lord Necroth (with his Dark Prism) has collected virtually all the Skittles for himself. All bright colours have been banned and all magic has been banned. Of course this is nothing to do with Skye until one day when one of her Dwentils decides to run off and Skye gives chase. Whilst in pursuit Skye finds an orange Skittle and her involvement in all this truly begins.

In order to restore the Rainbow to her land and to bring magic back Skye will have to reunite the five ancient prisms. To do this she'll have to search her own land of Lynlora and travel to four other lands, Ogmire, Zen'jai, Stoneheath and The Gargoyle Realms. In all there are 30, quite large, levels and it's fair to say none of them are easy. Travelling all over the place reveals one of the big omissions in Darkened Skye, there is no map that helps you orientate yourself. This can make exploring rather tedious because the nature of the levels really need a map to prevent you from getting lost.

Darkened Skye is basically an action/adventure game but there is also a strong platformer element that at times seems likes it's just there to pad the game out rather than for a genuine purpose and this makes it all frustratingly difficult. There are plenty of puzzles to be solved, some are easy and some are difficult, and you'll also have to travel all over the place to collect crucial items. The artifacts, Skittles, must be collected to enable you to use magic spells. The implementation of the Skittles has actually been done very well indeed. Each magic spell has a number of sockets that need to be filled with the relevant coloured Skittles in order to be made active. You can insert and remove the Skittles as you see fit. This adds a nice amount of strategy to the game as you have to decide which spells you want to make active in any given situation.

Graphically Darkened Skye looks dated. Whilst this is a new release here in the UK, the game has been out for a while in the US and it shows. Looking at most of the enemies you face makes you realise this isn't a game that makes the most of the latest PC graphical hardware. What is impressive though is that each of the 5 different lands look very different. It's clear that the developers have tried to be as original and as imaginative as possible and the game is all the better for it.

Darkened Skye is not the same experience for deaf gamers as it for hearing gamers. The game actually contains a fair amount of dry humour from Skye and the script is rather impressive. However there are no subtitles, so you'll be completely unaware of these finer points of the game. You can still check what you're supposed to be doing thanks to the Journal, which features a list of quests, notes and quotes. Interestingly enough though the quotes are not a word for word dialogue of the speech in the game, which is strange. Despite the lack of subtitles it's not impossible for deaf gamers to play Darkened Skye but it just isn't the same.

Darkened Skye is one of those games that you will like for it's originality or dislike for it's overly difficult platforming content. Of course deaf gamers have the added factor of there being no subtitles, which of course affects our evaluation of the game. The use of Skittles in the game is intelligent and doesn't get in the way of the game at all. The biggest drawback with the game though has to be the subtitles omission, because deaf gamers miss out on the quality of the games' script and humour.

Overall Game Rating: 5.8/10
Darkened Skye is a decent game but the platforming element has been overdone and there are no subtitles either.

Deaf Gamers comment:
No subtitles and whilst it doesn't spoil the game it does take away the games charm as the dry humour is completely missing for deaf gamers.

© Deaf Gamers.com 2000