The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav
E3 2012: First Impressions
"Fully hand-painted and presented in high definition, every area of the game is bursting with color and detail."

On the final day of E3, Neal Chandran and I met with Hauke Schweer of Daedelic Entertainment, and he gave us a walkthrough of a fascinating-looking point-and-click adventure called The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav. The game is based on a popular German tabletop RPG of the same name, set in a relatively unexplored part of the gameworld called Andergast. In the game, you take on the role of Geron, a young man forever cursed to bad luck and mistreatment by the ravings of a blind seer whose dying words were that Geron would bring misfortune upon his people.

The Dark Eye's world is aesthetically inspired by medieval Bavarian designs (think medieval Europe and you're on the right track), and the first thing I noticed about the game is how great it looks. While the animations of various characters are a bit stiff and lacking in frames, the backgrounds and character art themselves look gorgeous. Fully hand-painted and presented in high definition, every area of the game is bursting with color and detail. Backgrounds are animated, and in one instance we saw a water mill with fully hand-animated water that was beautiful to behold. Conversations with NPCs use a zoomed-in view that gives a nice look at characters' faces and expressions. For certain key moments, voiced cutscenes featuring stylized artwork present the story with panache. This game looks great.

The gameplay itself was standard tried-and-true point-and-clickery. You move Geron around the world by clicking, and a quick tap of the spacebar draws attention to any hotspots onscreen that might be worth your attention. Mousing over the bottom of the screen brings up the inventory toolbar, as well as access to Geron's single magic spell, a rather destructive bit of telekinesis. Later in our demo, Geron was joined by a sidekick nicknamed Nuri, who followed him around and offered assistance in a few sticky situations. Interestingly, Nuri is also possessed of some minor magical talents, and you are free to access her power from another button in your inventory interface.

Solving puzzles is handled in the standard "grab everything that isn't bolted down and hit stuff with it until you get it right." The few puzzles we saw seemed intuitive and not terribly esoteric though, so it looks as though a bit of logic will be able to guide you through the game successfully. The game is exceptionally friendly towards all kinds of players, however. The developers aimed to foster an environment of experimentation and adventure like classic LucasArts adventures, and as such you cannot die or "lose" the game. Additionally, at the outset you are able to choose between both a normal and a casual mode. The latter of the two offers hints and other puzzles solutions, so no matter what kind of adventure gamer you are, you should be able to tailor the experience to your liking.

The dialogue in the game is solid. There were a few awkward lines that seemed roughly translated, but by and large the writing was witty and well-delivered. Geron himself is a bit snarky and frequently fires off a few verbal barbs at the various people he interacts with. More important conversations feature dialogue trees, and in some cases you have the opportunity to choose a tone (encouraging, intimidating, etc.) in which to approach certain situations. Unfortunately, these won't affect how the conversations play out, ultimately, but it should still help create a bit of replayability and give you a bit more control.

Both Neal and I were very impressed with The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav. The plot seems interesting, and all the pieces are in play for a fantastic point-and-click experience. As a longtime lover of classic Sierra and LucasArts games, I couldn't be more excited to try out the game when it launches on June 22 via Steam. If you're a fan of the genre, definitely keep an eye on this one.

© 2012 Deep Silver, Daedalic Entertainment. All rights reserved.

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