By Henry Badilla / June 9th, 2017
|Title||Chronicles of a Dark Lord: Tides of Fate Remastered|
|Release Date||March 31st, 2017|
For many, describing a game as “an RPG Maker game” comes with a negative connotation, making us consider it as an amateur game. RPG Maker is software that provides creators with many easy-to-use tools to create an RPG like the SNES era, very similar to Final Fantasy I through V. And while it includes its own set of pre-made graphics and character sprites, you can create and upload your own graphics to it. As with any tool, in the right hands it can create excellent games, To the Moon and Yume Nikki, for example. But ultimately the story is what really makes or breaks these kinds of games. In which category will Chronicles of a Dark Lord end up? Let’s find out.
This title is a remastered version of the original Chronicles of a Dark Lord: Tides of Fate (Steve’s review here). I didn’t play the original game so I will review this as a new game. From what I can tell there has been an improvement in graphics, and according to Steam there is more story content.
The game takes place in the world of Cora. Our protagonist Magus Drakhen Lee is the son of a dark lord who is at war with an enemy kingdom. According to Magus, his father is cruel and has never loved him, so he is determined to defeat him, to show him that he is capable of being a better dark lord than him. With the help of a dark god, Magus exiles his father and begins his conquest of the world, except halfway through he loses his powers. So he builds a kingdom of his own and starts a family, apparently. Now a new enemy is attempting to conquer his land, so as any king would do, he goes on a journey to discover who is behind this.
As you may have noticed, I’m being vague on a few details of the story. That’s because the plot is very vague and that’s my main problem with the game; the story is not good. Just starting the game we see Magus arguing with his parents. He is being disrespectful, spoiled and mean to both of them, for reasons we don’t know, and the game never cares to explain why he hates them so much. Through the game we will travel to several kingdoms which are ruled by either of Magus’ children, but we never get any reaction from him. He is always straight to the point in regards to the invasion, but never asks how his kids are or how the kingdom is faring.
Unfortunately, this is but one of many problems related to the story. The whole game is extremely linear. We go to the castle, talk to the current ruler, then pass through a dungeon, defeat the boss and move to the next area. There is no overworld map, but small maps with only a couple of locations maximum. And once you move to the next area you can’t backtrack to previous dungeons or towns. Even once you get the boat it’s basically just a menu to select the next area to travel towards, but with no options to explore the world freely.
The cast of heroes is somewhat varied. On the battlefield they provide known roles like healer, damage dealer, mage and a mix of these, but other than that none are memorable. Every character that is introduced apparently knows Magus from a past interaction with him during his time taking over the world, or his family. Other than that we never really know how they know each other or what caused them to become friends. Everything just falls into place.
The thing that bothers me the most is that there are moments when talking to NPCs in town when they will talk ill of Magus, and rightfully so, since he tried to conquer many kingdoms. So Magus will kill them, out of the blue and with no consideration of his actions. It’s hard to care for our protagonist when he doesn’t show any emotion or care for anyone and his actions are never judged.
Gameplay wise everything is pretty standard for a JRPG. Combat is turn-based, we select which action each of our four characters will take, and then these are executed. A nice addition is that you can see the order that every action will take place in, so you can heal your characters before the enemy takes a turn. Another great addition is that battles are not random. On the top left corner there is a bar that fills while you walk, and empties when you stop moving on the map. When the bar is full a cutscene will happen and combat will start. While I like random battles more, this is a nice addition for those who don’t.
Characters will level up by defeating enemies and will learn new spells after a few levels. There are no jobs or classes in this game so there is not really any customization available. The graphics are fine. As mentioned above it has a 16-bit era style, using standard graphics from RPG Maker. The character portraits are also created using a tool for it, so all the characters look very similar. They all have the same face shape, and only eyes, hair and mouth change. Since most characters are female this becomes quite obvious during any long conversation.
The music works well. The ending theme in particular is very nice with high quality tunes. The developers used many free-to-use tracks to provide the game with a unique soundtrack and that works fine. The battle theme in particular is very upbeat and catchy.
In conclusion, while the game presents itself as the story of an evil character, and you could say that it succeeds in presenting a character that is cold and emotionless, it’s not able to make it interesting. On the contrary, it presents us with a generic story with all the usual tropes from a JRPG. We never get to see the villain’s perspective, or the past of our allies, and overall the game is not able to grab your attention for long. I never felt the need to see where the story was going. For $5 you get around eight hours of gameplay which may sound fair, but you’ll have to consider if you can overlook the problems mentioned above and enjoy the rest of the game.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
Chronicles of a Dark LordChronicles of a Dark Lord Episode 1 Tides of FateIndieJRPGKisareth StudiosRPG Maker