Snap Judgment – Dark and Light

598 wc

I didn’t know much about Dark and Light except that I had a vague sense that it was a PvP-style MMORPG that had been cancelled and then salvaged. Yesterday I saw a screenshot of the game float through my Twitter feed that looked amazing, so I totally broke my own rules and impulsively went to Steam to buy the Early Access version for $25 (on sale).

The bottom line: It’s not an MMORPG at all. It’s a “survival sandbox” game in the vein of ARK and Conan Exiles. It runs on the Unreal engine so it’s a client-server system where you browse a huge list of servers to connect to, like the good old days with QuakeSpy. You can also play single-player or on your own private server, as with most games of this type. (I did not try this-I played on an official server.)

It’s a neat concept but it’s very early in development and I can’t recommend buying it yet. It’s at the “barely playable” stage of development. If you’ve never seen this style of survival game before, you would do much better to check out the aforementioned ARK or Conan Exiles.

Loading screen. As is typical of these client-server games, you’ll be seeing this screen for many long minutes while the game loads. It was up so long I thought the game crashed.

If I had known it was a survival-style game I probably wouldn’t have bought it, but somehow I had it in my head that this was an RPG. It’s not. At least not yet. There are thin layers of fantasy elements over top of the survival system-you can make a staff and cast spells, and there are apparently a bunch of fantasy monsters out in the world-but that’s about it.

You begin the game in a town of sorts. There are buildings but it is deserted of players or NPCs. (There are plenty of player corpses though.) You have no equipment, no food, no water, as is normal for a survival game. You are given a checklist of tasks to do which walk you through the basics of how to survive: Punch trees and rocks and bushes to get resources, craft tools and things, eat berries, etc. In addition to the “normal” resources you also get “magic shard” resources which allow you to “craft” spells.

The game looks nice, but not quite as good as it looks in screenshots. Unfortunately there’s a heavy price for the nice graphics: The game has very slow frame rates. It’s a lot like the early days of ARK (and the current days, too, actually). Expect to crank down the resolution and settings, and even then you’ll be lucky to get to 30 fps.

Just a few bugs to iron out.

I’m curious to see where Dark and Light goes, but again, it’s not even close to being finished. I would guess this game has another year or two before it could be considered polished. I thought Conan Exiles launched in a fairly unfinished state, and that game was miles ahead of where Dark and Light is.

I played for about an hour, and will now be uninstalling it. I’ll check back on it next year, if it survives that long. (“Survives.” Get it?) I’ll also be sternly reminding myself to do more research next time and to never buy an unknown Early Access game if it costs more than $10!

Here’s video:


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