Shining in the Darkness is the first game in Sega's "Shining"
franchise. It was also one the earliest first-person RPGs to be
released on a console.
The story begins as you are called to the castle by King Drake for an
important meeting. There, you meet the king and his advisors, which
include Baron Vyrun, Chancellor Theos, Court Mage Melvyl, General
Tristan, and the Minister. They tell you about a recent incident where
your father Sir Mortred was accompanying the king's daughter Jessa on a
trip to the shrine, and both of them mysteriously vanished. The last
known siting of Jessa and Mortred was near the old training labyrinth
located near the town. The king asks you to investigate the matter.
You were chosen not only because your father is involved, but also
because according to General Tristan, you are the second best knight in
the kingdom, rivaled only by Mortred. When you return to the castle
after a short trip to the town, a monster calling himself Dark Sol
crashes in. Dark Sol makes it clear that he is holding Jessa for
ransom, and the price is ownership of the kingdom. After this, the king
sends you into the aforementioned labyrinth to see if any trace of the
missing persons can be found. You find a piece of hard evidence, and it
becomes clear that the Princess, and possibly your father, are in the
labyrinth somewhere. At this point, the king and his advisors realize
that our hero can't complete this taks single-handedly; you need
allies. Knowing this, you turn to your childhood friends, Milo Brax and
Pyra Myst. From this point, the adventure really begins..
The aforementioned charcters including Milo, Pyra, and yourself are the
heroes of this game, and are the party you control from start to
finish. The main character (you name him) is a knight. He has no
spells or MP, but he can use many powerful weapons and heavy armors. He
has the highest strength and HP, but he also has the lowest
intelligence, speed, and natural defense. Milo has fairly good scores
in most areas, and the highest Luck of the trio. Milo has many
defensive and auxilary spells, but he also leans a few powerful attack
spells. Pyra is the wizard of the group. Her attack power is low, and
she can't use powerful weapons, she has the best offensive magic. She
also has excellent speed and natural defense. There are a few brief
times in the game where your party will have an NPC assisting in the
monster fights. Their contribution is usually small, but it's
interesting to see.
Milo and Pyra learn spells as their levels increase. Magic in Shining
in the Darkness includes spells such as Heal, Detox, Quick, Egress,
Screen, Sleep, Slow, Blaze, Freeze, Bolt, and (my favorite) Desoul.
Gamers who have played any other "Shining" title will recognize the
names and icons of many of the spells in Shining in the Darkness. Most
spells have varying levels of power. Upon learning a spell, the
subscreen will show how many levels of the spell will eventually be
Shining in the Darkness is a first-person RPG. You explore all areas of
the game through a first-person view. Because the labyrinth consists
mostly of walls, finding your way around can be confusing at times.
There are a few things usable as landmarks, including statues, treasure
chests, and fountains. Also, you can spend one MP to bring up a map
showing where you are. The map displays areas you have been in, which
is useful for finding out where you still need to go. Animation while
traveling through 3D corridors is decent, but somewhat jagged. This is
most likely due to technical difficulties, such as the limited 3D
capabilities of the Genesis. Battles are fought using a traditional,
turn-based battle system. Every hero and monster gets one attack per
round, but faster characters always attack first.
The graphics in Shining in the Darkness are very good for a 16-Bit
system. Monsters are very detailed. Although most enemy attacks have
only minimal animation, special effects for magic are very good and they
become more impressive as the spells' levels increase. Powerful
monsters always make grand entrances. The town was drawn nicely, and
all shops are adorned appropriately.
The game's main faults are in its lack of dramatic moments. There are
some scenes with interesting character interaction, but they are few and
far between, happening only during critical events. This results is
limited character development. There are also almost no boss enemies.
There are really only 2 official bosses, and both are towards the end of
the game. There are a few fairly exciting battles at times, but not
many particularly difficult fights.
To sum everything up, if you enjoy exploring through a 1st-person view,
and fighting battles RPG style, this game is worth trying. It should be
fairly easy to find at any used game store.