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Dark Cloud Preview

"Dark Cloud is as much "Zelda does Arabia" as it is a subtle homage to Populous. It's also one of the first RPGs on the PS2. Here's how it's shaping up."

Quality RPGs are always a commodity early in a new system's life. Beyond the Beyond, on the original PlayStation, for example, sold well despite the fact that it was generally regarded as tripe, even by the standards of the day. It's not surprising, then, that we see history repeating itself in some of the launch day titles of the PlayStation 2. Games like Summoner and Eternal Ring - which attempt to pacify RPG cravings with gimmicky next-generation graphics and not much else - are selling well despite lukewarm reviews. Will fate be any kinder to Sony's upcoming RPG, Dark Cloud? If its claims of compelling story, next-generation visuals, and many other unique features are delivered with the level of quality Sony Computer Entertainment is promising, then the answer is most likely yes.

Dark Cloud's story opens with a bang. A cruel commander, Colonel Flag, appears with his army in the peaceful village of Norn in the midst of a festival. Flag has decided that the backward village on the western continent will be the ideal proving ground for a powerful demon that he has surreptitiously obtained. Flag uncorks his personal demon to unsurprising results - total devastation of the town and its peaceful inhabitants. The only apparent survivor of the massacre is Dark Cloud's hero, Toan. Soon after Flag's departure, Toan emerges from his destroyed village, only to encounter the mystical protector of the western continent, the King of the Spirits. The King gives Toan a powerful stone that will allow him to re-create his home, if he so desires, exactly as it was before.

The acquisition of a stone with the power to re-create Toan's village doesn't necessarily mean that everyone will live happily ever after. Rather, it is just the beginning of a much larger quest. Before peace is truly restored to his land, Toan must embark on an arduous quest to eliminate the threats presented by Colonel Flag and his powerful demon. Along the way, he'll meet an interesting assortment of characters who are neither fully opposed to or supportive of his epic quest. The vagabond adventurer Shida, for example, is on a mission parallel to Toan's, but he seeks Flag's demon for his own reasons. While Toan and Shida have the same goal, their means often conflict. Other characters, like Ungaga, a spear-wielding nomad; Shao, a wily female warrior; Goro, a burly hero from a nearby village; and Ruby, a sorceress with a penchant for magical rings, will also interact with Toan, for better or worse.

Posted on Dec 01, 2000