Dark Savior, Sega Saturn

Dark Savior is an isometric action game developed by Climax Entertainment and published by Sega for the Saturn in 1996. In my opinion the game is a bad idea, badly translated, poorly executed, and with some pretty awful story-telling.

You play a bounty hunter (with a Kajagoogoo mullet), called Garian, who is escorting a captured monster, called Bilan, on a transportation ship. Of course the monster escapes, kills all the crew, and you must try to re-capture it again.

You’re armed with a sword and have a stupid talking blue bird that flies around and is your ‘companion’, but in reality it seems to do sod all except get in your way… The puzzles are about as uninteresting as you could imagine, with switches to open doors, crates to position to reach higher platforms, platforming sections over drops, and damaging floors that must be avoided. Dark Savior is like a dodgy old Amiga game, but with little charm or finesse…

The controls are simple: you can move in four directions, run, jump and use hit/action (you use the same button to pick things up and talk to people, as well as swing your sword), but even the main character’s movement seems glitchy to me (he keeps walking in the same direction even if you press another direction on the d-pad). You can also access a Filofax type book that allows you to equip things and choose items to use. Dark Savior also has terrible camera controls. You can hold down the L and R buttons to turn the camera, but it hardly moves at all so is pretty useless.

A timer begins to count upward when the game starts, and the idea is that you’ve got to find the captain of the ship you’re on before it reaches four minutes (otherwise he’ll be killed), but that isn’t clear from the outset. In fact: it’s not really clear what your mission is at all.

Occasionally you’ll find a mangled corpse and can speak to them for inane, badly-written dialogue. Even less frequently you’ll find another bird that you can talk to to save your game. When you do eventually get into combat the game switches to a fighting game mode where you must win a best-of-three punch-out to continue. The beat ’em up sections work okay, but they’re hardly what I would call “spectacular”.

The graphics are a mixture of 3D and 2D, which is no bad thing, but they’re poorly realised overall, with garish colours and wonky models. The music is not that good either. Combine those deficiencies with some atrocious use of English (the game was developed in Japan so has been translated, albeit badly) and a weak storyline and you have what I would call a half-baked game.

Dark Saviour is a cruddy game overall, although looking online it seems some people rate it (although there’s no accounting for taste). While I have played worse games, for 1996 and the Sega Saturn this is pretty bad – especially when you compare it next to something like The Legend of Oasis or Albert Odyssey. I’m usually a lover of isometric action games, but this one is distinctly malformed.

More: Dark Savior on Wikipedia

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