Darkeden is one of the oldest MMORPGs still in service. Released during the age of 2D isometric action RPGs like Diablo, Darkeden is a blast from the past unlikely to impress young gamers. Those who were fond of this long forgotten playstyle and wish to relive past adventures just might enjoy this game. The three playable races are all truly different from one another, though movement and combat are uniform. Not only do players level up their character’s base level, but must also increase the rank of individual skills and stats before participating the game’s interesting PvP battles. The three races are:
Vampire - Masters of the night. Vampires increase their stats by attacking. They unlock new skills as they level up and have the ability to bite members of the other races and turn them into vampires if they do not find a cure in time.
Slayer - Holy warriors who hunt down Vampires during the day. Slayers must work up their skills by fighting, but allocate their stat points each level. Slayers can use melee weapon like swords, maces, and axes or ranged weapons such as rifles, sniper rifles, and pistols.
Ouster – A race composed entirely of females, Ousters took refuge in their lush forested enclave, but have emerged to reclaim their land from both the Vampires and Slayers. Ousters prefer melee combat and gain stat and skill points each level to distribute. They are the easiest race for new players since their play style is similar to classes found in newer MMORPGs.
Darkeden Featured Video
By Erhan Altay
Darkeden is a Korean game originally released way back in 1997, making it older than Cronous or Red Stone. Even after twelve years the game is still in service, proving it has lasting power. Perhaps this is why JoyMax recently acquired the international license and re-launched the game in early 2008. Darkeden was developed at a time when 2D action RPGs with isometric camera views and gloomy graphics were all the rage. The mega hit Diablo was released the same year, and the two games have many similarities. Darkeden in the 21st century is really a love it or hate it game. If you can entertain the thought of playing a twelve year old game, read on. Otherwise, I wouldn’t hold it against you for stopping here.
Vampire vs Slayer vs Ouster
Darkeden has three playable races and each is fundamentally different than the others. So while the number is not impressive, the variety is actually greater than in most games. The character creation process itself, however, is as impressive as you would expect from such an aged game. Players chose their gender, (Ousters are all female), a portrait, and their character’s skin/hair color. Even with this slight color option, all players end up looking nearly identical. Each race has its own way of distributing stats at the beginning. Slayers must ‘roll’ for their stats until they get a distribution they are content with. Vampires all have the same default stats, while Ousters must manually allocate their stat points between the game’s three stats: Str, Dex, Int. After this short process, players are ready to enter the country of Eslania where the war rages on.
Horror Meets Apocalypse.
Each race has its own starting area, which can vary a lot in terms of atmosphere, but the game’s general themes are horror and dystopia. The parallels between Darkeden and Diablo continue in more than setting -movement and combat are identical, as are many interface and graphic elements. For example, when players target a monster, it becomes highlighted in red and its health bar appears over its head. This must havebeen copied completely from Diablo. I’ll talk more about the game’s PvP elements, but it’s important to bring up some of the racial differences now. From my experience, the Ouster is the easiest class to play since her progression is similar to many modern MMORPGs. Killing monsters awards experience and at each level players receive three stat points and one skill point to distribute. Skills are organized like a tree – by learning skills on the top, you unlock more powerful ones. The experience rate is very accommodating; my Ouster leveled up after every kill for 3-4 levels, and even after that things didn’t slow down much.
The differences between the races don’t stop with stat distribution. The way they progress throughout the game is also radically different. Slayers gain ranks in skills as they are used. For example, fighting with a sword will increase a slayer’s melee skill, using a gun will increase their ranged skill, and so on. There are a total of five skills available to the Slayer, each with a maximum rank of 150. Vampires don’t gain rank in skills, instead they receive new skills at certain levels, but their stats increase as they fight. As I mentioned earlier, Ousters are the more traditional class; they receive stat and skill points each level to distribute as they like. The three races also have different equipment slots, which adds even more depth to the game. Slayers and Ousters can equip weapons, shields, helmets, pants, belts, gloves, and so on, while Vampires cannot equip weapons but can equip several rings and amulets at once.
The enemies you’ll be grinding off are the same no matter which race you play. The same humanoid mobs are located all over the world and have random names, which leads me to believe they are former humans who are now zombies. Grinding off these zombies is repetitive task, as they offer little challenge and are all alike. Luckily, the experience rate seems to be set very high, so it won’t take much grinding before you’re ready to participate in PvP, the main component of the game. There are quests in Darkeden, but they are not very in-depth. The first quest I had to complete was ‘reach level 6.’ This sort of quest does little to build up the game’s backstory, but the publishers don’t seem to be interested in that sort of thing. Much of the NPC dialogue is illegible because of the poor English translations, and the help guide is, remarkably, still in Korean! You’d image that after ten years one of the English version license holders would have bothered to translate the game.
The main draw of this action-horror RPG is its unique PvP system. Almost the entire world, save for towns and small green patches called ‘safe zones’, has open PvP enabled, meaning players can attack one another any time. There are no penalties for PKing, which means low level players must always be ready to flee at the sight of stronger characters. Additionally, each of the races has a preferred time of day when their abilities are magnified. During night hours (in-game) Vampires receive a buff, while daylight offers Slayers and Ousters a bonus. Another unique feature in the game is the ability to change races while playing. This is done either voluntarily or as a penalty. If a vampire (AI or human controlled) bites a Slayer, that player will turn into a vampire unless they are cured within 12 hours. A Vampire can change his or her class by talking to an NPC in town. Ousters are the only race that cannot switch to another race. Darkeden is certainly unique, and the fact that so many old school games like Mu Online and Dragon Raja are still around prove that there is still a fan base for the genre.
Final Verdict: Poor
Darkeden is too old to recommend when there are free games that offer so much more. The fact that Darkeden’s free features are much more limited than the average F2P MMORPG is hard to believe but true. While it doesn’t earn a general recommendation, it’s still worth checking out for those who are knowingly looking for an old school game.
Darkeden Character Creation
Darkeden PvP Footage
Darkeden Town Walkthrough
Darkeden Gameplay Footage
Darkeden Vampire Gameplay
Darkeden System Requirements
OS: Win95 / 98 / 2000 / ME / XP
CPU: Pentium 3 600 MHz
HDD: 800 MB
Graphics Card: 16Mb video memory
OS: Windows XP or Vista
CPU: Pentium 4 1GHz or better
RAM: 512 MB or more
HDD: 1.5 GB
Graphics Card: 64Mb video memory or more