The story, as taken from the website:
“Many years ago the army of dark forces has crossed the border of the Land of Winds.
Most of the population have been killed, others have escaped to northern lands.
Among them there was a girl named Jane. Soon she gave birth to a son, Alexander.
Jane told him the sad story. And when he became an adult, he went to the native land to free his country.”
The Spectrum back in the day never failed to astound me. The graphical capabilities of the humble little 48k or 128k machine (depending on what one you had) were pushed to the limit with games like Chase HQ, Renegade and later games like Final Fight and Street Fighter II. While those two latter games might have been about as playable as a car on a lake of ice, they were cracking to look at.
Then, in 1997, Oleg Origin from Russia created The Dark: a first person fantasy shoot-em-up. In the style of Doom, Wolfenstein and Duke Nukem 3D, you view the game from your character’s point of view. It was re-released just last year as well.
You start off with a trident with which you become Captain Stabbin’. Once you pick up ammo, you can blast away at your heart’s content at any nasties that come your way. Well, until your ammo runs out, of course. Along the way, you’ll come across hand symbols, which seem to be pressure pads. Once you’ve walked up to them, they are activated right away, and a little icon appears next to the viewing area. Once two of these have been activated, a nearby door is opened, and progress can continue. Also, certain doors can only be opened with keys, which are scattered around the various maps waiting to be picked up.
First up is how good it looks. Nice, crisp and clear, the graphics are a sight to behold. I would have mistaken this for a full price release if I’d have seen this back in the day. A lot of love and care has gone into this, and it’s clear to see. The monsters are ugly sons of bitches, and are just as ugly up close and personal. The game runs quite fast too, considering how much detail is on screen. I’ve only experienced a small bit of slow-down, but it was so minimal, it was hardly noticeable. The opening intro has full speech synthesis which is a nice touch, even if some of it is indistinguishable. But even the static graphics here are very good. It hasn’t got a long draw distance in game, but thats not really a problem here because the game zips along at a fast pace.
From what I’ve played, there’s no music which is a shame. There are spot effects for picking up items and using pressure pads for doors, and even for the shooting, stabbing and killing of the nasties. Before every level a map is displayed which shows you your progress through the game. And even this is very good as well.
I will suggest using a joystick, whether you’re using a real spectrum or emulating one on a PC as the keyboard makes the game much more difficult to play. But when you’ve got a joystick, sit back and enjoy a fantastic gaming experience.
In my opinion, Oleg has done a fantastic job at this game. It looks good, plays well, and even though there was no music, the sense of atmosphere from the silence draws you in to the game, and makes you want to keep on playing.
Why Should You play it though?
Well why not? Well, to my knowledge there’s no first person shooter games on Sir Clive’s humble little machine at all (mainly because some said it was not possible). And if you pass this over, then you’re a fool. A fool, I say! Saying that, there has been a demo of DOOM made, but the playing area was tiny from what I remember. This shows that a version of DOOM IS possible, and if it does get ported, then I’d have a fair good crack at it. In the meantime though, if you like blasting various ugly nasties in first person Speccy-vision, with some cracking graphics , it can’t hurt to give it a go. You might just like it!
You can buy the game as a high quality physical release HERE (Recommended!)
You can download the game for free from Oleg Origin’s website in English or Russian language.