Dark Messiah of Might & Magic Review

One ugly customer.
Sometimes you have to wonder why you bother with PC gaming at all. Installing Dark Messiah of Might and Magic was a hellish experience for me and left me wondering if anyone at the game’s publishing or development companies had ever bothered to sit down and see what it was like to go through the game’s installation process. First there’s the issue of what the installation program installs. In addition to the game and Direct X, you’ll have to sit through installations of Acrobat, Steam, and PlayLinc software. After 15 minutes of installing and asking me periodic questions the installation program exited and I thought I could put it all behind me and play the game, but this was sadly not the case. The next step was for Steam to prompt me for my CD key and then start downloading updates for both the single and multiplayer versions of Dark Messiah. Unfortunately for me, I only run Steam when I have to because I hate giving up memory and CPU cycles to a program that likes to pop-up notices to me that it thinks are of vital import. This meant that I had to let Steam download updates for four things at once and as far as I could tell there was no way to tell it that I just wanted to download the single player update for Dark Messiah. The process was so slow that I gave up and left it to run overnight. The next day after everything was downloaded I went to play the game and … nothing. The game would not run. It would start up a process that I had to kill with Task Manager, but that’s as far as it ever got. I uninstalled the entire thing and tried again while playing a PSP game I have to review next. The result was the same though, the game would not run – and this is on a high-powered, totally up to date, Windows XP Pro gaming rig. Good thing I work for a game site because I was able to take the disk to another computer and try again, but how many people keep more than one gaming rig lying around? Again the installation took forever, Steam decided to download the world, and the computer was left overnight. This time though Steam hung at some point overnight so I reinstalled and tried again. Now four installations and three days later I was able to play the game. Seriously. Makes you want to chuck the PC and just pop a game into an Xbox 360 and start playing within 30 seconds.

If I haven’t scared you away from the game at this point, then I suppose you’ll want to know if all of these troubles were worth it. Well the short answer is “no”. There are some things about Dark Messiah that are really cool and that made it look like it had a tremendous amount of potential at E3 this year. Overall though it boils down to a cool concept in search of a good game. It’s the old “good idea, bad execution” problem that has sunk plenty of games with potential in the past.

As the title points out, Dark Messiah is set in the world of Might and Magic. However, it is not an RPG at all and can better be described as a first-person hacker. If you are looking for the whole Might and Magic experience or vibe here you won’t find it. The story is very basic and no real attempt is made to tie it into the Might and Magic mythos. The story concerns a young warrior unaware of his grand destiny sent on a quest by a wise master and could have been copied from umpteen RPG games that have come before it. Or perhaps the writers watched Star Wars the night before they sat down to hash out the script. Anyway, story is obviously not the game’s strong suit so let’s move on to the gameplay instead…