Have you ever wanted to live in a fantasy world populated with amazing creatures and wonders, to travel and explore with friends, to build fame and tame dangerous beasts? Well, Dark and Light may be the digital answer to your wishes. At least that’s what developer Snail Games wants you to think. The game released in early access on PC this month after a long development process that also saw the game rebooted from the ashes of a failed launch all the way back in 2006. With a new team at the helm, does the gameplay hint at the potential we’ve seen in trailers and early looks? Let’s conjure up some insights with our Dark and Light early access review.
Dark and Light Early Access Review
Developed by: Snail Games USA
Published by: Snail Games USA
Release date: Early Access July 20th, Full release TBA – 2017,
- Exploration in a magical world: Gaia houses a number of various biomes, including lush forests, mountains and more.
- A world of limitless magic: There are dozens of magical skills, related to everything you need to thrive in this world.
- Unite and conquer: Dark and Light is designed to encourage cooperation at every level.
- True freedom in an endless sandbox: Dark and Light’s sandbox world affords players the freedom to create and build just about anywhere in the world.
Story & Setting
Ages ago, the world Gaia was attacked by dark forces and collapsed, plunging the world into darkness. Many sought exodus to Alpha, one of Gaia’s satellite planets, unwittingly bringing the dark forces along with them. As a result, Alpha’s atmosphere has been adversely affected, causing some strange occurrences on the planet during the night. During the day, Alpha’s landscape is peaceful, but once the sun sets, the planet immediately plunges into chaos.
The world setting of DnL is generic, but still sufficient to satisfy most RPG lovers. It takes place in a medieval fantasy land settled by humans, elves and dwarfs. The map is huge and beautiful, teeming with diverse fantasy wildlife. There are awe-inspiring air islands and underwater scenes, dragons, centaurs…everything you could hope for in a fantasy world.
The concept of DnL is a little bit like Ark: survival evolved plus some fantasy RPG elements. It’s a survival game, so you need to keep your characters alive by collecting food/water/followers. You can fight environments, build houses and mount animals just like Ark, but in DnL your characters can cast spells/Magic, that makes the game more complex and interesting.
In the game you will choose between one of 3 competing factions in order to defend them in their struggle against the others. The game is a competition of resources, exploration and survival and you will have to be on your toes against players from opposing factions. You will be staking your claims on land by using magic to alter the landscape and ecosystem to suit your needs and protect against enemies and the numerous wild beasts you’ll encounter as you explore.
Magic is a big part of the game, with over 100 spells spanning a range of elements. It is an advanced magic system where you can tame mounts, craft weapons, fight enemies and more. Magic is also used to build structures, craft gear and transport resources across the world, making the entire magic system a crucial part of the sandbox play. The game will also have over 14 different melee and ranged weapons, including bows, swords, daggers, and more.
The skill system is also impressive, no skill points are needed, instead, you can gradually learn a skill through related activities. This makes the grinding process much more tolerable and what kind of character you finally get is all based on your playstyle.
You may think that lack of proper actions will make this game hard when fighting tough enemies, because how can you not dodge or block when you fight dragons or element monsters alike? Ironically this is completely not the case, due to another bug in this game. Poor enemy AI makes most of the creatures kind of dumb and blind, and some don’t even fight although they are way higher than your level and are supposed to be hostile and aggressive. The bestiary is impressive however and if the AI gets sorted this will be a great element of the game.
There is also some poor optimization. Each time you run the game, DnL will take ten minutes or longer to load in. There are also some oddities that are expected for an early access release, like skeleton animations and currently there is only one action for all interactions, namely attack, harvest, etc which makes for some odd moments. Furthermore, your character always looks at where your mouse pointed, making him/her seem kinda silly. If you are looking for an Action-heavy game like Dark Souls or Nioh, then this game is certainly not for you, at least not right now. These all represent your typical early access hiccups.
Visual & Audio
Despite all its good features and potential, Dark and Light is still in its very early development stages, and is in certain need of more polishing. Take graphics for example, although this game features so many great scenes, there are still many objects missing correct mesh and textures. Once in awhile you will notice a certain item: a boulder, a table, or wall that does not fit in its surroundings. Instead they look like some kind of 16-bit prehistoric remains in a 64-bit world. Some vendors in cities just stand there half-naked, because the developers have not created clothing textures from them yet. This will no doubt be addressed but still worth mentioning at this juncture. The cinematic soundscapes and ambient sounds are what you would expect and fit the world.
Dark and Light has promise, but has bugs and weaknesses. However, the developers are putting effort into making it a better game. Within the first week of the Early Access release, Snail Games has already released two major patches, along with several small fixes. Some of the issues that showed up on Day 1 have been satisfactorily solved. For example, in day 1 there was no PvE server and people were being slaughtered quickly by much more PvP focused and high level players. But Snail Games quickly patched this, along with task bug fixes and several other improvements. The optimization problem mentioned before has also received the developer’s attention, and we are promised it will be improved in the following patches. It is an early access game, after all, bugs and other issues are expected. This is very similar to when Ark first launched and given time and effort, it will get better and better. For right now the jury is still out.