Shining in the Darkness Review
If it’s not immediately apparent, I chose the header image above mostly because the row of phallus-shaped enemies summarized my feelings on Shining in the Darkness pretty succinctly. That’s not to say that the game is completely devoid of entertainment value, of course, because it has the same kind of inexplicable charm many games of the time possessed, but that’s not enough to make up for its painfully repetitive gameplay and poor communication about how things actually work. There are a large number of games from around the same time period that still hold up—including developer Climax Entertainment’s Landstalker, which tormented me when I was a child—but this can’t hold a candle to those timeless titles.
This is going to be a short review
Shining in the Darkness is an incredibly simple game despite its attempts to overcomplicate things by not giving you enough information to efficiently get through dungeon areas, so there’s really not that much to say about it. The basic story is that the kingdom’s princess is kidnapped, and the main character’s dad was protecting her at the time, so said main character is given a paltry amount of money and sent on his way to single-handedly rescue the princess from the labyrinth she’s probably in and reunite with his missing family in the process. There’s also a villain in the form of “Dark Sol,” who claims to have abducted her and wants the kingdom in return. None of this is ever explored in much detail, but it’s entertaining enough, and I was pleasantly surprised that the guy with the suspiciously evil-seeming eyebrows didn’t turn out to secretly be the villain. It’s also interesting how the things people at the castle say change as you progress, with it being possible to miss entire (non-crucial) events. For example, I went back to a previous save state—as with most Genesis/Mega Drive games I review for this site, I’m using the emulated versions from Steam—and found that returning to the castle at that point caused an appearance by Dark Sol where he taunts the main character. I don’t know how many things like that I missed, but I suppose this could be considered replay value.
This is the walk to get to my favorite late-game grinding spot, and it really highlights how tedious the game is when you get down to it.
This is one of those first-person dungeon crawlers where you move one square at a time, slowly working your way through a dungeon and dealing with random battles as you progress. This is something that’s actually done remarkably well here; I’ve mentioned before on this site that I have no sense of direction whatsoever and find it incredibly easy to become lost, and yet many of this game’s areas are designed in such a way that it’s easy to remember where everything is. The beginning area in particular uses puddles and wall torches to give you a sense of which way is forward and …read more