Heart of Darkness
Heart of Darkness is a cinematic platform video game developed by Amazing Studio and published by Ocean Software and Infogrames Multimedia in Europe and Interplay Productions in North America for PlayStation and Microsoft Windows. A Game Boy Advance port was announced in 2001 but it was never released.
The game begins with the protagonist; a young boy known as Andy being abused by his teacher for sleeping in class where it is revealed that he has nyctophobia (fear of the dark). Being instructed that same day by his teacher to watch the solar eclipse, Andy takes his beloved dog Whisky to the park where dark forces steal Whisky away, prompting Andy to use his assortment of inventions and machines to get him back. Andy travels to another world called the Darkland in a homemade spaceship which promptly crashes and he has to face an assortment of obstacles to rescue Whisky and find his way home.
Throughout the game, Andy is tasked with fighting living shadow creatures and dark monsters while traversing several hostile alien environments such as a canyon, swamp, underwater cave, and lava river. He receives help in this quest from a peaceful alien race called Amigos whom he befriends, and from magic powers he obtains from a meteor referred to as the 'magic rock.' The main antagonist is an evil sorcerer known as the Master of Darkness who intended to capture Andy instead of his dog. Somewhat resembling Andy's teacher from the beginning of the game, the Master of Darkness has an interest in capturing Andy and sends his minions to pursue him. Another major antagonist is the Vicious Servant; a sniveling pink creature that serves the Master but is quick to betray him for personal benefit.
After traveling across the varying alien environments and fighting alongside the Amigos, Andy finds himself inside the Master of Darkness' lair where he proceeds to free Whisky and join forces with the Vicious Servant to help overthrow the Master of Darkness. Planning to use the magic rock's power to destroy the black hole at the lair's center. However, Andy is double-crossed by the servant who kicks Whisky into the black hole and sends Andy into an ambush. Andy ends up fending off droves of shadow creatures and successfully following through with his plan, but falls into the black hole himself along with the Master of Darkness as the structure around him collapses. The black hole's center is the heart of darkness and there Andy must fight the Master and face his fears once and for all. Upon succeeding the darkness dissipates and Andy awakens in his tree-house, believing the experience was all just a dream but after Andy and Whisky go to sleep and it's shown Andy has likely gotten over his fear of the dark, the player is shown the Amigos cleaning up the wreckage of Andy's ship and proving the adventure was perhaps more than imaginary.
Why It Rocks
- Excellent game-play with similar mechanics from Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee which this game was released one year later.
- Spectacular backgrounds and sprites as they were very smooth and clear.
- Creative story.
- Unlike Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee where you have to avoid from enemies, in this game you can use magical powers and even weapons to defend yourself.
- Likeable characters.
- This game took 6 years to develop from the mechanics, to the sprites and even cutscenes, and it shows.
- Bruce Broughton composed a soundtrack for the game that fits the tone, being entertaining or serious.
- Very disturbing moments and death animations for a PG rated video game.
- While the cutscenes aren't terrible, the animation is slightly fake looking.