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Of Light and Darkness: The Prophecy
Of Light and Darkness: The Prophecy

Inspired by the end of the world prophecies that preceded the year 2000, Interplay’s Of Light and Darkness- The Prophecy is a truly unique adventure game. As the new millennium draws near, signs of the Apocalypse are observed. The Mississippi river floods, Sudan suffers from drought, the water temperatures rise in the Pacific Ocean, and El Nino worsens daily. In the midst of all this chaos, an exotic dancer Angel Gemini receives revelations. Angel starts speaking of the end of the world, the coming destruction and she starts spreading her message, soon gathering large numbers of followers. One night however, she mysteriously disappears after killing her own lover in front of her followers. It is now up to the players, in the role of the Chosen One, to defeat Gar Hob - The Dark Lord of the Seventh Millennium, save Angel Gemini and stop the oncoming Apocalypse.

Of Light and Darkness takes place in a village between Heaven and Hell. A court hearing delivers the players their mission. Before the Clock of Judgment completes its countdown, the Chosen One must redeem the apparitions in the village. The apparitions are real or mythical sinners from the past, such as Ivan the Terrible, Marie Antoinette, and Caligula. Apparitions have unique artifacts that symbolize their sins. Each apparition also has a color that can be recreated by using the colored orbs spread throughout the village. To redeem an apparition, players must locate the artifacts in apocalyptic rooms and take them to appropriate sin rooms such as the room of lust, avarice, pride, or anger. Then the artifact must be used along with the orbs that create the sinner’s color. If the sin room, artifact and color combination is not correct, the orbs and the artifact get sent back to their original locations. When all the apparitions in a level are redeemed, the Chosen One is allowed to enter the next level. Once all three levels are complete, the Chosen One must find the way to the Dark Isle to stop Gar Hob and save humanity from the Apocalypse.

While the process of redeeming the sinners of the past might sound interesting, there are two fundamental gameplay problems. First of all, there is a time limit to each level. Every few minutes, the Clock of Judgment flashes a color. This marks the arrival of artifacts to an apocalyptic room. Apparitions soon follow the artifacts, giving the players a limited amount of time to redeem the sinners. If the Chosen One is in possession of an artifact when its apparition arrives, the apparition starts chasing the player to demand the artifact. The player may run away in a direction that’s not blocked or send the apparition away by flashing him or her with white light, but doing so means that the colored orbs will need to be relocated. Portal stones found around the village can also be used to get away temporarily. However, giving the artifact back is sometimes the only option, and in that case the player eventually has to go back to the apocalyptic room the artifact is found in to flash the apparition with white light, which sends both the apparitions and the artifacts in that room away. Then the player will either have to click on the apocalyptic room’s color on the Clock of Judgment or wait for the artifacts to come back on their own. Thus, especially when players don’t know the right color, sin room and artifact combinations, the levels get very repetitive and take a significant amount of time to complete. The problem is worsened in the later levels when there are more apparitions, sins, and colors to deal with and some of the doors leading to the sin rooms are locked until they are touched by a specific artifact. Furthermore, when the Clock of Judgment flashes all of its colors before all the apparitions are redeemed, the player has a few minutes to send an apparition away with white light or the game is over. The repetitiveness and the time-based nature of the game will undoubtedly repel many players.

The second problem is that the game is not intuitive. The players are very obviously expected to sit there and read everything in the manual before they can enjoy Of Light and Darkness. In fact, the game itself hardly provides any information about how everything works and what the player is supposed to do. Without reading the manual or a review, it would probably be impossible to understand what is going on. Furthermore, the game itself also does not provide players with enough hints about the sins the apparitions are guilty of. The color associated with a sinner can be determined by visiting a special room in the village, but the only source of information about an apparition’s sin is the game’s manual. The players must work with the histories in the manual to figure out what sin an apparition might be guilty of. While it was enjoyable for me to read the stories of historical or mythical figures and determine which sin they committed, few players will probably find the idea particularly appealing.

Having discussed its problems, the game also has some very nice features. Exploring the village as the Chosen One is a truly pleasurable experience. The graphics are excellent for the game’s time, and the animations are very well done. The rooms are very detailed; setting a dark atmosphere that is proper in a game about the end of the world with a welcome touch of humor. In the apocalyptic rooms symbolizing the signs of the Apocalypse like pestilence, famine, pollution, or extinction of species, voices discussing what brought the destruction upon humanity can be heard, reminding players of how badly we have been treating our world. The sin rooms have similar voices hinting at what sin the room represents. All of this detail adds up to an excellent game environment.

The background story is also very nicely told although some of it is available only through the manual. The court hearing is made highly entertaining and funny with the remarks apparitions make when they are redeemed. But more importantly, at various points as the Chosen One explores the village, players will see conversations between Angel Gemini and Gar Hob. These conversations are masterfully executed as Gar Hob tries to make Angel forget about her revelations and convince her to join him. James Woods, Lolita Davidovich, Valeri Ross, and William Utay deliver exceptional performances as the voice actors of Gar Hob, Angel Gemini, the judge, and the bailiff. The voices actors for the apparitions also nicely match the historical figures they represent. The remarkably high quality of voice acting in Of Light and Darknessis refreshing to say the least.

What Of Light and Darkness– The Prophecy boils down to is a game with a lot of misused potential. The gameplay is very repetitive and tedious as players will have to work with the manual and take notes about the sins apparitions are guilty of, the color they can be redeemed by and what their artifacts are. Designers should have thought of ways to make the game more intuitive and playable without consulting the manual every ten seconds. The highly detailed environments and the exceptional voice acting show that a lot of work went into this game. It is a shame that the same amount of attention was not paid to gameplay issues.

The final grade is 72/100.

Developer: Tribal Dreams
Publisher: Interplay
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 1998
Platform: PC

System Requirements:

Pentium-90 or equivalent
100 MB hard drive space
DirectX v5.0

*This article originally appeared on Just Adventure.