Dark Messiah of Might and Magic

Might and Magic is one of the oldest CRPG series that I never really got into. Starting with microcomputers in 1986, 3DO were steadily releasing games until they were sold the rights to Ubisoft. Ubisoft rebooted the series with two releases: Heroes of Might and Magic V, and Dark Messiah of Might and Magic.

Dark Messiah of Might and Magic happens to be the only Might and Magic game in my library. Instead of an RPG, it is more of a linear action game with RPG elements. You will learn spells, find magical weapons, and kick your way to the game’s conclusion.

The game initially reminded me of some old mods I used to play, adapting games like Half-Life into a close combat fantasy style. The game is based on a modified version of the Source engine, and old school gamers will recognise the feeling.

Combat is relatively simple. You can attack, power attack, and defend. You can use various spells to launch fireballs, set magical traps, and heal, among other effects. And you can kick. And kick you will. A lot. Because you have a kick that rivals Captain America. It’s literally the most powerful weapon in the game.

If you don’t believe me, read the reviews on Steam and count how many refer to the game as an orc-kicking simulator. With one kick you can knock an orc off a cliff, thrust a demon onto a bunch of spikes, knock a goblin into a fire, or just stun an opponent long enough to get in a few extra jabs. It’s the easiest way to get an instant kill.

A variety of weapons are available. You have fast striking daggers, swords which can be paired with shields, various bows, and combat staffs. More powerful weapons do more damage and have better abilities, but also require you to invest in certain skills before you can use them.

The story of Dark Messiah is typical fantasy game fare. You play as Sareth, a wizard’s apprentice tasked with recovering the Skull of McGuffin for a reason that isn’t explained right away. To aid you in your quest a spirit is bound to you, and she acts as a voice in your head guiding you in your quest. During the quest you will make allies, including Leanna, who will accompany Sareth for much of the journey.

You will generally end up fighting Arantir’s minions, a rival wizard and necromancer who serves as the main antagonist for the game. He will send zombies and necromancers after you. I especially enjoyed the moment I realised that killing necromancers would also destroy any zombies they had summoned. This also led to the realisation that they would raise their fallen allies to fight against you as well.

In addition to these enemies, you will fight through goblins, orcs, cyclops, and even dragons. There are a few battles in the game that create great set pieces. Buildings crumble and burn around you, floors collapse beneath you, and you find yourself mounting ballistae to take down some of the largest enemies.

The levels are linear for the most part, but many are designed to allow for backtracking and exploration to a certain degree. Despite effectively being a corridor shooter, the game doesn’t feel linear, and many environments are a larger and more detailed than you would expect.

As you progress through the game and complete objectives you will be awarded skill points. These can be spent on various spells, skills, and combat abilities, which can also unlock the ability to use powerful weapons. You won’t be able to invest in all skills by the end of the game, so you should choose your play style early.

This is one aspect I was a little disappointed in, because the game doesn’t really have any replay value beyond seeing the skills/spells you didn’t unlock last time. The game does have multiple endings, 4 of them, but it’s easy to save near the end and see all the outcomes of the game.

Overall, this is an extremely fun game to play through, though it does lack replay value. I had a few frustrating moments where I couldn’t figure out where to go next. Rope and ladder climbing can be a bit clunky at times leading to more than a few annoying deaths.

These feel like nit-picks in the grand scheme of things, though. For me, I had a really fun time playing through this fantasy kick simulator. Nothing is more fun than sneaking up on an orc and kicking it off a cliff before it has a chance to fight back. And despite doing it over a dozen times, it never gets old.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.