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Page 1:
Introduction

Page 2:
Blade of Destiny

Page 3:
Star Trail

Page 4:
Shadow over Riva

Page 5:
Blade of Destiny HD

Page 6:
Spirit of Adventure
Other TDE Games

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Spirit of Adventure - IBM PC, Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64 (1991)

Atari ST Cover

Attic developed several smaller games in various genres before Realms of Arkania that were published by Starbyte, but one of them stands out because of many similarities to Blade of Destiny: That game is Spirit of Adventure. Still without the pen & paper license, the character creation is much simpler - after choosing from the rather exotic classes and races, all values are generated automatically.

Just like all three Arkania-games, the adventure starts out in a temple, or rather a monastery in this case. After the party is briefed about its adventure and leaves the holy halls, the relationship to the later games becomes immediately visible: The 3D view and the interface with the six characters and an extra slot for NPCs almost look like an alpha version of Blade of Destiny, it even uses the same mouse cursor, and plenty of familiar imagery. Some of the artwork was even plainly reused in Blade of Destiny.

Spirit of Adventure (IBM PC)

Combat is much more archaic, though. In place of the tactical battlefield stands an entirely menu-based system, well known from games like Wizardry, or in slightly altered form from most old JRPGs. Only the characters in the first three slots can attack the enemies directly, but a lot of classes possess an alternate "mind attack", which serves as a generic offensive spell with very low cost. Other spells are available as well, but they have to be created by using a set of runes, many of which can only be found later in the game.

The game can only be considered borderline unplayable nowadays. There's no automap, and the movement in cities and dungeons is executed rather confusingly. Every wall or house has a strange exclusive field when stepped up to closely, and turning around moves the party automatically a step away from it. It doesn't make much sense, and renders navigation and custom map making into very tiresome tasks. Houses and shops are impossible to distinguish from each other, but at least the cities have street names who are displayed at any time to help at least a tiny bit with the orientation.

There aren't many redeeming qualities or storytelling worth mentioning, either. Most of the time it's just grinding until the party gets strong enough for the next area, heal at the healer, save at the monastery, rinse, repeat. The game is also completely quiet, there's no music or sound effects whatsoever except some static noise in the intro. Spirit of Adventure is interesting to have read about as a kinda prototype to the series, but actually playing it is ultimately not rewarding at all.

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • Attic

Publisher:

  • Starbyte

Designer:

  • Hans-Jürgen Brändle
    Guido Henkel

Genre:

Themes:


Spirit of Adventure (IBM PC)

Spirit of Adventure (IBM PC)

Spirit of Adventure (IBM PC)

Spirit of Adventure (IBM PC)

Spirit of Adventure (IBM PC)


Reused Graphics


Lookalikes

The Realms of Arkania games themselves contain quite a few references to personalities and events in the real world (and other fictional ones), but those are nothing compared to the "stolen" faces in Spirit of Adventure. To the left are the creators of the game as the lords in "The Castle of Attic," expansive comparisons for all the games can be found in our feature Tracing the Influence. There are also many more pop culture references to be found in text form (not few of which have been lost in translation and/or didn't age quite as well as the visual ones).

Spirit of Adventure (IBM PC)


Other The Dark Eye Computer Games

LMK / Legenden der Magierkriege / The Lady, the Mage and the Knight - Windows (unreleased)

German PC Player 5/98 Cover

Sketch of "The Lady"

Instead of a true Realms of Arkania 4, Attic announced the Diablo-inspired The Lady, the Mage and the Knight in cooperation with the Belgian developer Larian Studios. Though an action-oriented game, LMK would have had the player take control of a three-member party consisting of the three titular heroes, which the player would have been able to split up at any time.

Originally started as an independent franchise called Unless - The Treachery, Attic pushed forward the reconception. The non-Aventuria-compatible creatures Larian studios had already created were explained by setting the game 400 years in the past, during the age of the Mage Wars, hence the German title Legenden der Magierkriege (Legends of the Mage Wars). Both titles were consciously chosen to fit to the same abbreviation.

During the development occurred a lot of conflicts between Larian Studios, Attic and the publisher Infogrames, though, and after being hyped quite a lot by the press in Germany, the game was finally cancelled in 2000. The artist of the game keeps a website showing a number of sketches and animations intended for the game. Larian Studios then went on to develop the Divinity series of well-executed, but none too special action RPGs. The first game features tombstones for the three heroes of LMK.

Very early preview from 1997.

LMK (preview)

LMK (preview)

Divine Divinity (Windows)



Armalion - Windows (unreleased)

Armalion Tabletop Rulebook

Armalion (preview)

The next attempt at a new TDE game was Armalion, a license to the TDE wargame offshoot, as the title reveals. The computer game, however, was supposed to become another Diablo-esque action RPG like LMK. Other than Larian Studios' game it was conceived with an Aventurian setting to begin with, and showed off some interesting features like mounting horses. Unfortunately, it shared the same fate as the aforementioned project when the developer Ikarion went bankrupt.

Not all was lost, though. The resources had been bought by Ascaron, formerly one of Germany's most venerable software houses, and completed without the Armalion license under the title Sacred, which has also become a successful series in its own right. Keen eyes have spotted fragments of the originally planned scenario in Sacred, like remaining symbols of the Aventurian gods.

Sacred (Windows)

Armalion (preview)

Armalion (preview)

Armalion (preview)


Rastullahs Lockenpracht - Windows (unreleased)

This inofficial TDE game project was initiated by a group of independent developers called Team Pantheon. Rastullahs Lockenpracht (Translates to Rastullah's Gorgeous Head of Curls - Rastullah is the god of an Aventurian religion inspired by real world Islam.) was intended as an open source RPG engine for adventures in Aventuria, similar to what Neverwinter Nights offered for Dungeons & Dragons fans. However, on January 2, 2010, the development was officially put on halt, due to the core team members lacking the time to properly continue working on the project. Two early tech demos have been released for download, the last one in 2006.

Rastullahs Lockenpracht (Windows)


Drakensang series - Windows (2008-2011)

Drakensang Cover

The River of Time Cover

The Dark Eye fans had to wait 12 long years after Shadows over Riva before a new game in the franchise was finally released to the public. The messiah here was the Berlin developer Radon Labs, who until then had done nothing but casual and kids' games for more than ten years.

Similar to Blade of Destiny, Drakensang was actually tied in directly with the contemporary official pen and paper campaign The Dragon Chronicle, as part of the prologue. It contains, however, a much less complete rendition of the ruleset than the Realms of Arkania trilogy, to cater to a more mainstream gaming audience. Players can gather a party of four characters, but only the main hero is created manually. Combat takes place in pauseable pseudo-realtime, similar to the Baldur's Gate series. The press quite loved Drakensang, but Realms of Arkania veterans criticized it for its high linearity, the average gamer for the only fragmentary voiced dialogue.

Due to the success of Drakensang, a sequel - or rather a prequel to the prequel, as The River of Time takes place 23 years earlier - was released two years later. The concept of a journey alongside the titular river is quite interesting. Radon Labs promised completely voiced dialogues and a less linear storyline this time.

More attention was also put towards the role playing system. In consequence, the characteristic negative base values like superstition or claustrophobia, that were missing in the first game, make their comeback. It also received an expansion called Phileasson's Secret. The sequel was even more critically acclaimed than its predecessor, but apparently that didn't translate as well into financial success, as soon after Radon Labs went bankrupt, and were bought out by Bigpoint Games.

Bigpoint specializes in browser games, so naturally the next Drakensang became a browser-based free-to-play MMO action RPG - oddly, without The Dark Eye license.

Drakensang (Windows)

Drakensang (Windows)

Drakensang (Windows)



Satinavs Ketten / Chains of Satinav - Windows (2012)

Memoria - Windows (2013)

Chains of Satinav English Cover

Memoria German Cover

Chains of Satinav uses the TDE license in a very uncommon way - instead of a hardcore RPG experience, it is a traditional point & click adventure. This isn't too surprising, seeing how it was made by the adventure experts at Daedalic Entertainment (Edna & Harvey, The Whispered World). The story revolves around the untrained magic-user Geron. In his childhood, a seer upon execution cursed him as the harbinger of his home town's destruction in his childhood. Now as an adult he sets out to free the city from an invasion of crows to prove his worth, accompanied by the fairy Nuri. Like all games by Daedalic, Chains of Satinav offers absolutely gorgeous drawn backgrounds, but the writing was criticized much for its failure to create truly interesting, relatable heroes.

A year later, the game was followed up by Memoria. Geron is still a not very likeable whiner, but this time he shares the spotlight with another hero - the princess Sadja of Fasar, whose adventures from 450 years earlier appear as a reoccurring dream. Set in the Aventurian equivalent of ancient India, her quest leads to much more exotic locations than pedestrian Andergast. It starts out in an ancient tomb, where she is locked in and has to make a pact with a talking staff. Much like Geron's ability to repair and destroy small items, the staff allows her to control magical devices.

Chains of Satinav (Windows)

Chains of Satinav (Windows)

Chains of Satinav (Windows)



Herokon Online - Browser (2012)

Artwork

While Drakensang lost the license just in time to go MMO, an official The Dark Eye online experience still happened with Herokon Online. The browser-based game is a typical free-to-play MMO, using 2D graphics and an isometric perspective that reminds of Baldur's Gate or Ultima Online. The open beta started only with the fairly central town Greifenfurt ("Griffon Ford") and its surroundings. The big plan for the future is to include all major areas of Aventuria via instances. It still has a long way to go - as of this writing only 5 out of more than 40 regions can be traveled to. Thorwal is among them, but not yet Lowangen and Riva.

Homepage

Herokon Online (Browser)

Herokon Online (Browser)



Demonicon - Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 (2013)

Xbox 360 Cover

Collector's Edition Cover

Demonicon already came very close to add up to the list of failed TDE projects once. Around the time Drakensang came out, Silver Style Entertainment announced that they were working on their own interpretation of the source material, with a release planned for 2011. First photoshopped screenshots looked breathtaking, but the later released real ones weren't to shabby, either. The developer, who has had some RPG experience with the Fallout-inspired The Fall: Last Days of Gaya, meant to implement the complete skill set from the original and not limiting the character development at all, even though the game was also described as a Diablo-inspired, yet story-driven action RPG. It seems that the original pitch was aiming for something sandbox-y along the lines of the Fable series, as there was talk about the main character beign able to marry and have children.

Demonicon (late preview)

However, in 2010 publisher The Games Company went bankrupt, leaving the project hanging. Kalypso Media bought up some of TGC's properties, though, and revived the game at the new-founded Noumena Studios (with some of the former Silver Style staff members on board). According to the game's new owners, the original concept failed at its overreaching ambition, and never went past an extremely basic prototype (Interview in German).

After undergoing heavy restructuring and an engine change, Demonicon finally arrived in October 2013 (in Germany). This new Demonicon is much more straightforward and strictly action-oriented than what was originally described. The gameplay is nothing too great, but the sometimes gritty, sometimes TDE-typical tongue-in-cheek writing and excellent voice acting (at least in German) makes it stand out among other B-tier action RPGs, nonetheless. The game takes place in the Shadowlands, a doomed wasteland created through the war against the mighty necromancer Borbarad, so the title is honored with lots of hellish abominations to fight. The tone of the game seems very much inspired by CD Projekt Red's The Witcher series, complete with occasional moral choices that eschew clean "good" options.

Demonicon is also coming to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, making it the first The Dark Eye game ever to be released on consoles.

Demonicon (Windows)

Demonicon (Windows)

Demonicon (Windows)

Demonicon (Windows)


Early preview Screenshots


Blackguards - Windows (2013)

German Cover

Also by Daedalic Entertainment, Blackguards takes the Dark Eye license in yet other genre realms, although this time it's much closer to home than their point and click adventures: The game actually does use a variant of the role-playing rules, but everything is focused on tactical combat using hex field maps.

The player starts by creating only the main character, who can be male or female, but is constrained to being a human and either a generic fighter or mage type. The system is also based on the 4th Edition rules, which means that stats and skills are bought with a finite pool of points instead of dice rolls, which is much more user friendly. A beginner can still easily be overwhelmed by the options, though, so generating the hero automatically is also possible.

The story takes place within the Horasian Empire, which is the vaguely Arabian-ish area of the world in The Dark Eye. Something happens to the hero in the beginning that makes them uncertain whether or not they killed a princess. The protagonist ends up getting falsely(?) tortured and thrown in prison, where they band together with an exile dwarf and a dubious sorcerer to escape. The dialogs are well-written and astonishingly well-acted even in the English version. There are a lot of environmental objects in the battlefields that make the combat more interesting, like puddles of mud where combatants slip and fall on the floor, or chandeliers that can be sent flying down by cutting a rope.

Blackguards (Windows)

Blackguards (Windows)

Blackguards (Windows)


Related Articles


<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Introduction

Page 2:
Blade of Destiny

Page 3:
Star Trail

Page 4:
Shadow over Riva

Page 5:
Blade of Destiny HD

Page 6:
Spirit of Adventure
Other TDE Games

Back to the Index