You ever so briefly play a journalist covering the Battle of Stalingrad. Upon entering the trenches, you come upon a plane crash site. Hmmm…there seems to be a box with some papers in it. You take a look and immediately a flash of white light transports you to 2138.
Mars Colony, 2138
You now take on the role of Ren, a private investigator taking a well deserved break from her caseload of cheating husbands and missing persons. After years of being mined for cobalt, Mars has been turned into a popular tourist attraction. Ren’s main goal is to find relaxation with a little entertainment on the side. She immediately signs up for a tour of the surface. But, before she can take the tour, she is contacted by her friend aptly-named friend Hacker. A mutual friend has been kidnapped. Ren must cut her vacation short and get back to earth in order to save her friend.
Earth is where the story truly begins. As Ren conducts her investigation, details come to light about a world takeover by a shady corporation that has been in the works for years. It turns out that Ren’s journalist friend Ted has happened upon some confidential information that now threatens his life. Ren is going to have to work fast if she is to save her friend, not to mention the entire world. Legacy continues our fascination with the future. Think back to the games of the 1980’s in which the future (close to now) was represented by robots, high-tech industrialized locations and of course, flying cars. Since that obviously didn’t pan out, we’ve all had to bump the “future fantasy” date a little further out. 2138 is as good as any.
Legacy: Dark Shadows was created by Razbor Studios; a new company located in Croatia. This is their very first game. The game is a 3rd person predominantly point and click adventure presented on three CD’s. Legacy: Dark Shadows does not come with a manual. When it was originally released, the manual could be downloaded at www.razbor.net or www.legacythegame.com . However, these links do not seem to work anymore. It takes a while to load the whole game, but no problems were encountered during the installation process and the game can be run without a CD.
However, Legacy has a tendency to crash at inopportune times. So, it is imperative to save your game often. Legacy also occasionally has problems when you load a saved game while the game is running. Ren might disappear from the game completely or you may be greeted with a white blank screen. These problems are corrected by exiting the game entirely and restarting. This brings us to another technical issue. Upon clicking on the quit button, the ending credits will roll along with a rather interesting musical rendition of some of the game’s dialog. The game will run these credits until you press the escape button. Unfortunately, when you press the escape button during the credits, the game crashes every time. There is no way around this. While these problems are annoying, the “quit” and “load” glitches don’t really detract from the game too much. And, if you are a persistent little game saver, the in-game crashes won’t cause too much pain.
Ren is an interesting character. She is the confident and striking female heroine we have come to expect of late. And, let’s just say that without even reading the credits, one could guess that she was designed by men. Perhaps it’s the buxom figure. Perhaps it’s the unnecessary skintight clothing complete with cut-outs that is the true tip off. Not a big deal here; just amusingly obvious. Ren does, however, have a strange gait. It’s a combination of a slide and stomp similar to what one would expect of a robot or perhaps a zombie. The accompanying sound of the footsteps is a bit strange. It seems as though Ren is walking on a metal floor.
One of the more prominent NPC’s is Hacker. And, yes his name fits his occupation. He’s quite the odd duck; with antennas protruding from his head. Being an accomplished hacker, he provides Ren with important information throughout the game. The obvious villain is the Marshall. Complete with a cowboy hat and classic western wear reminiscent of a small town Texas sheriff; he turns out to be not so “small town” and heavily embroiled in a history of dirty dealings. There are quite a few other characters to interact with including robots. Dialog is on the lighter side and mostly concerns just the necessary information you will need in order to proceed. Do not expect to see any lip-synching in this game. The character’s mouths do not move at all. Fortunately, as conversations in close-up mode are rare, this should not pose a distraction.
Another important aspect of dialog is in the voice acting. Unfortunately, the voice acting is not a highlight of this game. While the tone quality of Ren’s voice is quite pleasing, her lines are delivered with no emotion. Both Ren and Hacker have a somewhat computer-generated sound. Some of the dialog is humorous, but due to poor timing and incorrect word emphasis, the jokes tend to miss their mark. The American accents were really rough. It would have been much preferable to hear each actor’s true accent. The result would have been a much more natural sound. Besides, the predominant locations of Earth and Mars are by no means restricted to a specific accent. Perhaps this was specifically done to appeal to an American market.
The 2D backgrounds are really done well here. Mars definitely screams “tourist attraction”. It is a small location, but has all the prerequisites required: neon signs, a nice hotel vs. a seedy motel, the obligatory local bar, gift shop (of course), local law enforcement and a chance to walk on the surface of the moon as the ultimate attraction. There is a very interesting location underground on Earth. It seems the inhabitants have been down there since an explosion left them exposed to radiation. They were immediately quarantined and then subsequently forgotten. The national archives and a run-down cathedral are what remain in this dark and dismal location. Theft in order to survive is common. Above ground on Earth, Ren always appears first in her office where an aging computer and a few pictures are the only items to distinguish it from a warehouse storage room. Ren’s investigation on Earth will bring her to an abandoned power plant, a prestigious institute, a high powered corporation, the State Prison, and a military camp.
Perhaps the most interesting location is on the surface of an asteroid. The surface of the asteroid is done in black and white with only splashes of color to draw the eye’s attention. The asteroid seems at first glance to be uninhabited and dotted with craters. Further investigation proves that there is current activity; secret in nature. Adding the zero gravity effects for Ren was a great touch although it does hinder her ability to run. Further exploration of this area leads to a myriad of pipes and tunnels that Ren must navigate. The cut scenes, even though a tiny bit blurred, are another place where Razbor Studios does things right. Most of the cut scenes involve travel from each of the major locations and are quite interesting to watch.
Game play is pretty standard for a point and click game. The cursor will turn green for a new location complete with a description. When you bring it over an item you can interact with, the cursor will be orange. Upon clicking on the item, a pop-up will allow players to choose between examining, picking up or conversation. On Earth, Ren uses a taxicab for transportation due to the fact that her car is broken down. Once in the taxicab, a simple right click on the map can take Ren to any location in a flash. Getting around in the other locations can be accomplished on foot without the use of a map. There are unlimited save slots which is most appreciated. Previous saves cannot be overwritten.
Ren’s PDA can be accessed with a right click of the mouse. All inventory items collected can be viewed through the PDA. There is a log button which allows you to read additional information that you have not been given verbally. Ren also has the use of a camera, an electronic scanner jammer for picking all those electronic locks, and a collection tool for evidence like blood or oil. This brings up another issue. What is expected of the log is that it will provide you with either the information you have already covered or perhaps provide some additional insight to what has already been learned. This is not the case. There are times where the log is the only place to figure out what the heck is going on. You will find out that you have already gotten essential information from Hacker. But, you won’t know this unless you are randomly checking the log.
This can also lead to gaps in the storyline and there are quite a few of them. For instance, upon testing some footprints found at a kidnapping scene, you learn that they are simply an oily substance. Go to the map and a power plant location has cropped up. Checking the log on this one won’t help. You encounter creepy clones and find something very important at this plant, but you will have no substantial storyline connection to link to this find. The storyline presented on the box cover is intriguing and tells quite a tale. However, the story in the game is never developed fully enough to match the tale on the box. This is disappointing as storyline is so essential to a good adventure.
Puzzles are on the easy side. They are inventory or logic-based. Ren has quite a few characters she has to get rid of in order to explore environments further. Ren will also have to perform some favors in order to get the help she requires. One such task involves finding fruit vodka in order to gain access to a location where Ren will ultimately get a space suit so she can walk on the moon. As in classic adventure style, theft will be in order. There are only a couple of stand alone puzzles which all take place on a prison spaceship. The computer system has a mind of its own and Ren must complete these puzzles in order to get the computer to remove the lasers that block her path. These puzzles will definitely remind you of the Nancy Drew Series puzzles. One of them involves rotating pipes to get a proper connection. Another involves moving barrels into their correct slots using an on-screen robot. This is the only puzzle that will involve using the arrow keys on the keyboard. It would have been nice if you were made aware of that fact. Of course, you can always keep clicking your mouse on it for 15 minutes wondering what the heck you’re doing wrong until by some miracle you realize you need to use the keyboard.
Legacy: Dark Shadows does not quite live up to its potential and has a feeling of being unfinished or rushed. But, Legacy still has entertainment value and should not be discounted entirely. Even with the flaws, it was still fun to play. Reminded that this is Razbor Studio’s first attempt at an adventure game, one can only wish that they can go back and give the game the full attention it deserves. Or, at the very least, take what they have learned from the creation of this game and knock our socks off with the next one.