Severance: Blade of Darkness is a 2001 3D fighting third-person PC action-adventure game created by (the now defunct) Rebel Act Studios and published by Codemasters. The original subtitle in direct translation from Spanish is Blade: The Edge of Darkness. Unfortunately, there was a TV show with the same title in the USA so the US publisher changed the subtitle to Blade of Darkness and the same label was pressed on the European copies as well, even though no sword of this exact name featured in the game.
Blade of Darkness is a hack-and-slash third-person action game in which you can play as one of four different warriors, all of whom must do bloody battle with assorted forces of evil. The game follows in the tradition of similar fantasy-themed 3D action games that feature violent melee combat, such as Die by the Sword, Heretic II, Drakan, and, most recently, Rune. Blade of Darkness distinguishes itself from the rest of these with its selection of different characters, its motion-captured character animation, and its gore effects and lighting effects. It’s got some problems and takes some time to get into, but it should otherwise appeal to players who’ve enjoyed previous hack-and-slash action games, or those who like the idea of them.
Created by Spanish developer Rebel Act Studios, Blade of Darkness has an immediately recognizable, rather unremarkable fantasy premise–just swords, sorcery, and the like. The setting and characters in the game aren’t very distinctive, though they’re still pretty fun. At the beginning of the game, you choose whom you want to play as: Tukaram, a heavily tattooed barbarian warrior; Naglfar, a burly dwarf; Sargon, a venerable knight; and Zoe, a lithe huntress. These characters look different from each other, have different preferences of weapons, and have different strengths and weaknesses in terms of power, agility, and defense. However, you control the characters in exactly the same way, and they really don’t play that much differently from one another when you get down to it. The main difference is, depending on which character you choose, you’ll end up relying on different types of weapons. And, each character takes a different course through the game.
Being able to parry attacks is just one of the many fighting techniques available in Blade of Darkness. The combat system lets you input different key combinations to produce a wide variety of different attacks, but you must be mindful of your stamina, or you’ll find yourself out of breath and a sitting duck. You gain experience as you kill enemies, and as you gain experience levels, you gain access to additional special attacks, and you get stronger and healthier. This system is more robust than that of most similar games, although it isn’t quite as open as Die by the Sword’s system, which lets you swing your sword arm in any direction by moving your mouse around accordingly. However, as in Die by the Sword, the combat in Blade of Darkness can take a lot of getting used to. The controls aren’t immediately intuitive and don’t seem very responsive, and it’ll actually take you a while to get a grasp of the timing necessary to win battles. You’ll often get frustrated with how your character will tend to step too far into every attack, inadvertently moving past the intended foe and exposing his or her back. You’ll also find that it can be difficult to tell when your character is taking damage; there often isn’t a clear visual or audible cue when you suffer a hit. Furthermore, each character’s walking speed is inordinately slow. You have to double-tap the walk key in order to run, which is faster, but even the running speed can seem sluggish, at least for the larger characters. If you’re more used to fast-paced first-person shooters, you’ll find that it takes a while to get accustomed to the rather deliberate pacing in Blade of Darkness.
Processor: Pentium 2 400 MHz
64 MB RAM
Free hard drive space: 750 MB
Video Card: 3D Accelerator with Hardware T&L and Pixel Shading 16MB Directx 8.0
16-bits Sound Card