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Background: I own and have completed every entry in the Ninja Storm series, so there is inherent bias but luckily this isn’t a review. These are just my thoughts on a fun series I chose to pick up after my Dragon Ball Z Budokai days. I am also only about 3 episodes behind in the...
The roots of isometric platforming games can be traced to Q*bert and Marble Madness, but Knight Lore and LandStalker truly defined the genre in the early 1990's. Following the tradition cemented firmly by the master game craftsman at Climax, Kan Naito, Dark Savior shines with a light of its own on the Sega Saturn, combining the finest sprite-work of the mid 1990's with the Hyperion Perspective 3D game engine, optimized to create the fastest 3D isometric engine ever developed for the platform. The game boasts amazing 3D effects once thought only possible on the Nintendo 64 and Sega Dreamcast, such as anti-aliasing, voxels and gouraud shading.
Dark Savior tells the story of Garian, a Bounty Hunter charged with delivering a dangerous prisoner by the name of Bilan to the prison island run by Warden Kurtliegen. During the voyage, Bilan escapes and starts slaughtering the crew of the ship, eventually reaching the captain's cabin. This is the essential scene in the game, for the time you take to guide Garian to the captain's cabin shall determine the outcome of the entire adventure, altering the story completely.
Dark Savior utilizes Parallel Scenario gameplay, which was developed by Climax to add to the value of the game, featuring different storylines and characters. Depending on how fast you complete the opening scene, you'll either chase after Bilan in an effort to destroy him, join an underground resistance to combat the corrupt Warden of the island, get involved with a mysterious ninja girl named Kay and rescue your brother and her oracular sister from certain death, or go to hell and fight your way through a tournament to return to the world of the living. There are 5 possible scenarios, each with options of their own to alter the story.
The gameplay, environmental puzzles, fights, dialogues, characters and music all shine with high-quality mid-90's SEGA catchiness. Kan Naito and his crew crafted a true masterpiece of a game with Dark Savior, a value which sadly is not seen nowadays with many modern games.
If you're a Saturn owner and have a craving for something different and engaging, look no further than Dark Savior, a true example of value and solid gameplay.