Have a seat on the throne.
When Blizzard's Diablo was released back in 1997, it blew up the computer gaming scene and became the undisputed king of action RPGs. Others games like Nox and Darkstone have tried to oust the champ, but to no avail. Next month, though, a new challenger will arise in an effort to steal some thunder from the reigning champ. And from what we've seen thus far, it should give fans of the genre a mouse-clicking treat.
Brought to you by Sierra Studios and developer Click Entertainment (whose founders are alumni of team Diablo), Throne of Darkness gets away from the whole medieval fantasy theme and heads to feudal Japan. An all-powerful demon from the deepest bowels of hell has been unleashed upon the land and the samurai warriors of Yamato are the only ones that can stop it. Thank god the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are out of business.
Unlike Diablo, which features only one character, gamers will take control of seven samurai in their quest to defeat the evil demon Zanshin and the legions of the undead that trail in his wake. A group of four warriors will venture out at a time, though you'll have the ability to easily swap members in and out. Sound daunting? Have no fear! With simple and intuitive controls, you'll be able to shuffle through each character with ease.
And since you now have a party to look after, tactics are a little different. After all, running straight toward your enemies can be deadly if your team isn't set up right. Again, the team at Click has made this easier with a fully customizable formation setup that can be accessed on the fly. Shall we execute the Scorpion stance against these Undead Foot Soldiers? On second thought, maybe our Dragon formation would be best now…
To dish out some zombie/demon/unspeakable evil hurt at peak performance, you'd best know the strengths of your team. You've got a Leader, Berserker, Wizard, Archer, Swordsman, the Brick, and Ninja, and knowing what each specializes in will make your job easier. Naturally, your Archer and Wizard are best put in the rear of the formation, pummeling the enemy with projectile attacks, while the Brick and Berserker are up front dishing out some single or even double blade attacks. But of course if you have a better idea, there isn't anything that will stop you.
Also in your team's bag of tricks are more than 80 spells. Unlike other action RPGs, every member of your party has the ability to cast magic and it's totally up to you to determine how they develop in their abilities.
Equipping your character with unique items is half the fun of Diablo, and Throne of Darkness has captured that same element and expanded upon it with leg and face armor to complement all the other bits and pieces. Not only will there be tons of goodies to pick up on your journeys, but you'll also be able to create new custom items with your very own blacksmith! At long last I can make my Armor of Infinite Booty Calls, +2.
Throne also takes a step in the right direction by implementing a vibrant, fluid, isometric gameplay engine. It looks much like a fancy, tighter version of Baldur's Gate, with beautifully painted backgrounds and objects.
In addition to a burly single player experience, Throne of Darkness will include some hardcore multiplayer gaming with players attempting to gain the mantle of the Dark Warlord to become King of the Hill. Once the King is defeated, the conqueror dons the mantle and the game continues for non-stop action.
If the builds we've seen are any indication, Throne of Darkness looks to expand the action RPG genre with more control and a much needed team style of play. And with more unique and magical goodies to discover, fans will surely be on the lookout for the latest in demonspawn-slaying samurai fashion.
Throne of Darkness is due out September 2001 for the PC.