Dark Cloud (PlayStation 4) Review

By Ian Soltes 17.02.2016

Review for Dark Cloud on PlayStation 4

Back in 2000, a small company known as Level-5 released its first game onto the PS2, hoping for the best. That game was Dark Cloud and the company would go on to produce titles like Dragon Quest VIII, Professor Layton, and Ni no Kuni - but what of the original? After all these years, can it still be considered as something great, or was it just a mere fluke that resulted in its developer's survival?

For those that have played this, yes, there is a major elephant in the room that will be talked about later on. For those that haven't, well… things within the world took a bad turn for the worse. This was a largely peaceful-ish place until a certain military general decided to unleash a Dark Genie from its bottle; a genie whom he now commands and he wants to take over the world. Of course, things aren't quite that simple for him, as, when his new minion rained destruction upon the land, the fairy king stepped in and sealed parts of the world away as fast as possible, scattering them about in his haste, and enlisting the aid of a young child named Toan to gather them up and help rebuild.

For its time Dark Cloud was simply astounding. It wasn't just the standard RPG of hacking up monsters or crawling through dungeons, as a huge portion of the game was sitting down and actually rebuilding its game world. Figuring out just where to put the shop down in the village was just as important as figuring out how to tackle the next floor in the dungeon, and making sure the citizens were happy wasn't just some idling thing but a huge part of the experience. Doing so would yield great rewards, and not doing so would make things underwhelming at best. Therefore, the result was that the game ended up being a lot more than just a standard action-RPG.

Even in the dungeons things were different. They were all randomly generated instead of set, with the rewards changing every time a floor was visited. This system is fairly well-known now, but at the time this sort of thing was rare at best, and, fortunately, the randomly generated dungeons still hold up for the most part, as they are well designed and handled.

Screenshot for Dark Cloud on PlayStation 4

The real major star, however, is the weaponry. Unlike in most games, the weapons in Dark Cloud held no major set path or pattern. Yes, there were caps to the various stats, and, yes, upgrading certain stats would lead them down certain paths, but what, exactly, happened was up entirely to the player. They could opt for cheap upgrades over the more expensive and rare, but powerful, gems, or focus on just one thing (such as ice) while, on an otherwise identical copy of the same sword, focus on wind. It wasn't some cheap gimmick or minor feature but a huge aspect, since, with proper planning and decision-making, it was possible to create a very strong weapon, or even something specialized in a certain area.

Things weren't perfect though. Even for the time when the PS2 was new and many titles hadn't tapped into its full potential, the graphics weren't that amazing. Later Level-5 products showed just how wonderful the company really was when it came to graphical detail, but this one had an uphill struggle that ends up sadly underwhelming by modern standards - which isn't to say that they're bad or ugly. They were certainly more enjoyable than some other ones, but… underwhelming. They wouldn't fly today.

Now for the big one: this has a major issue with making characters useless. Throughout the journey, multiple characters will be recruited for use in battle, like in most RPGs, but only one can be present on the field at once. Normally, this wouldn't be an issue, but the result is that there are only three characters ever worth even considering using, except for when bypassing character specific obstacles. Toan, the go-to guy for melee combat, Xiao, the cat-turned-into-a girl, who will be the only ranged character until the final worth-while character, Ruby, comes along with her magical spells that make Xiao obsolete. The result is that only two of the cast will even be considered worth touching at any one time with everyone else simply sitting around and waiting. These characters will also struggle with the fact that their weapons will be under-levelled since levelling-up the weapons of six characters at once will be far too time-consuming.

Screenshot for Dark Cloud on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


Does Dark Cloud hold up and withstand the test of time? Yes, it does - quite well in fact. The problem is that, even at its launch, while it was fun from an objective viewpoint, it had some problems. In no way is it bad, though, as, quite clearly, everything is made competently and enjoyable. Just that its age lines are quite clear and the rising standards of the industry will make this title an interesting throwback worth playing, but perfectly fine to ignore as well.






Real Time RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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