So turn on the lights, already.
As you embark on a spectacular graphic adventure with dark murder plots, you must also interact with sinister and bizarre characters. The only way out is to know who to trust, and be cautious of those out to get you. People are tricky, and remember, no one can see who screamed... in the dark!
Dark Earth is a great graphic accomplishment. I was especially shocked when I saw the minimum requirements were simply a 75 Mhz computer and 8 MB of RAM. To say the least, graphics are very good. Visually, it resembels the gameplay of Resident Evil. However, sometimes the pre-rendered backgrounds can get in the way of game-play. I've noticed it quite hard to battle someone in the corner of one screenshot (switching camera angles not available), but for the most part, the low system requirements definitely make up for that inconvenience (as I'm sure you "less than state of the art" computer owners agree). As for your character, and the rest, they are true 3D models. I think they could have had a few more polygons, since there's nothing else to be redrawn on the entire screen. Everyone looks like a Virtua Fighter I character only with superior texturing.
Sound is very good in this game. Every detail is realistic and sets the tone for the environment. I was actually impressed by some samples, which is a rare occurrence for me, and I even asked myself "How did they do that?" Only a few select games such as Myst or Riven have duplicated such detail and realism in sound effects. Dark Earth has proven itself worthy to be among them.
The interface is also very good. The entire screen is devoted to the adventure, and if you'd like to look at your inventory, simply left-click. You can operate your character with the keyboard arrow keys and few more simple and easy to learn functions to fight, talk to people, or pick up something. The interface was made for ease of use, to give the illusion that it's non-existent. You can even assign shortcut keys to each weapon so you can quickly switch weapons in a tight situation.
Gameplay is very fun. They combined the perfect amount of mystery, adventure and action in the same software package to interest gamers from any of those categories. If you've ever played Twinsen's Odyssey, Dark Earth is very similar. In fact it's practically identical: you operate your character in a 3rd person perspective. Even though it's an adventure game, what's really interesting and unique about Dark Earth is that you never have nothing to do! There's almost always someplace that you know you haven't explored that's in reserve for those boring, "What the hell do I do now?" moments.
I won't spoil the plot for you, but I think it's important to say a word or two about the actual adventure since most people have different tastes. I, for one, know that I didn't enjoy Twinsen's Odyssey as much as others did simply because it was a little too childish for me. However, others found it to be very satisfying. Dark Earth has a more serious, if simplistic plot. Your basic "whodunnit?".
Dark Earth is a great game and worth checking out. Its system requirements are quite low; that's an added plus for people with slow systems, and it is certainly not at the sacrifice of otherwise very high-quality graphics and sounds. All in all, Dark Earth is a good game with few flaws, and worth your hard earned money.