Shining in the Darkness is a fun dungeon hack RPG for the SEGA Genesis that is relatively obscure, probably because very few Genesis gamers are fans of this style of RPG, and fans of hack 'n' slash RPGs on the PC wouldn’t have been exposed to it. Thanks to emulators (and this review, of course ;)), PC gamers can now experience another forgotten RPG gem. |
While Shining in the Darkness may be the precursor to the much more popular Shining Force strategy/RPG series, it’s a very different kind of game. The premise is basic: Thornwood used to be a peaceful kingdom until the evil Dark Sol came and abducted Princess Jessa and Sir Mortred, one of the king’s most trusted knights. You, Mortred's only son, must journey deep into Dark Sol’s labyrinth with two friends to rescue the abducted and defeat Dark Sol.
The game is played from the first-person perspective like a typical dungeon crawl on PC. You fight monsters in random encounters, occasionally returning to the village to sell the loot, buy more powerful weapons, cure your party members of poison or curses, or get tips from patrons at the tavern. Occasionally you must fight large "boss" monsters, but most encounters are random. The deeper you go, the tougher the monsters you will face. Fortunately, battles at the beginning of the game are easy, giving you plenty of time to practice (the premise for this easy stage is that you must find a special item on your own to pass the “Trials of the Ancients” and be allowed to leave the castle with your friends). One nice feature is that you can turn ore into equipment of your choice, and the locations and identity of many items in the game vary from game to game, making it quite replayable.
Intuitive interface, creative monsters, and fun battles make Shining in the Darkness a fun dungeon crawl that should appeal to fans of PC-style hack 'n' slashers. It’s not overly complex but does provides enough challenge to make killing a boss monster or Dark Sol himself a rewarding experience. The game's levels require mapping, but are not so large as to get lost inside. The game is longer than an average RPG on the console, but not as difficult as similar games on the PC (say, the Eye of the Beholder series). If you’re looking for a fun, moderately challenging dungeon crawl, check out this forgotten classic on the console. Highly recommended!
Reviewed by: Underdogs