Dark Ages (1991)

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Dark Ages reminds me of the earliest games I played when I got my first computer, a clunky 386er with a 20 MByte harddisk. I liked platformers, and in these days it often meant weak controls and lots of levels, but rarely well designed. I never played the game at that time, but I probably would have liked it, given the lack of good platformers on the PC in general. It follows the shareware principle, the first of three episodes is free, the rest had to be paid for. That said, once you’ve played the first episode, there’s no reason to really play the 2nd and 3rd.

They don’t offer new gameplay or even new sprites, just occasionally more difficult levels. As the base gameplay is already not very good in the first episode, I can’t imagine anybody wanting to see more of that. Even in 1991 you had better choice with Apogee’s own Commander Keen series or some of the other platformers. Dark Ages is really from the dark time and better left forgotten. Boring, long levels that feel boxed in (you can’t jump above the top screen, even if it’s open sky). Movement feels like it’s in the lowest frames-per-seconds number possible, sometimes it’s as if you hit a key and see the following action unwind in slow motion.

It’s interesting to see from a historical perspective, but doesn’t offer much of interest or playability these days.

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