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Defeating the Dark Side
In this case the year was 1380 and the battle was between those returning from the Crusades, known as the Guardians, who were pitted against the forces of the so-called Clan of Nine who resided in their fortress within the confides of Prague. The battle was over the possession of a special Artefact which was under the control of the Clan of Nine.
Fearing they were about to loose the battle, and thus possession of the Artefact, the Clan of Nine, who were priests with mystical powers, opened up a gateway from which they called forth the Dark Side. This terrible force, operating as a deadly mist, destroyed the Guardian forces and then turned on the priests who were unable to control it once it had tasted blood. Over time, as the Clan of Nine have been depleted by death and were no longer in existence, many brave souls have tried to enter the Clan's fortress and bring an end to the Dark Side and the destruction it was causing to Prague. But none have succeeded or even returned.
The one remaining hope is that the last surviving descendant of the Guardians can defeat the Dark Side. You can probably guess who has been nominated for the role of the Last Descendant. It's YOU.
Available as part of the Black Lime series of titles, 9 The Dark Side is a Hidden Object Adventure game that has been rated as being suitable for those ages 12 and over. Allowing different people to accept the challenge of defeating The Dark Side, profiles for players can be created. Adjustments can be made to the volume levels for background music and sound effects including the spoken dialogue delivered by voice actors. The game can be played in full or wide screen mode with the option of a software or hardware cursor. There is a choice of three levels of difficulty as you select from Casual, Advanced or Hardcore. These level deliver different amounts of hints, the time delay before you can skip puzzles and a misclick penalty when looking for items.
A fairly familiar format for the screen layout is used when in adventure mode. With your view of the current scene taking up most of the screen area, a strip along the base of the scene will contain the tools available for use. Occupying a central position is an inventory holding the items you have collected or been awarded for completing various tasks. To the right of the inventory is the Hint feature in the form of a number 9. Initially the left side of the inventory will house a diary that automatically records your findings. One tool that you might expect to find, but is missing, is a map to help you get around the various locations you need to visit.
Soon after the start of the game, you will receive an Amulet which will reside next to the diary until required. The Amulet can be used to detect runes that can be used to remove ghostly figures that offer advice and present you with one of the ancient symbols that you need to collect in order to complete the game. When required the Amulet will glow and will need to be dragged around the current scene.
The different characters you meet, in ghostly format, tend to have a request to make and promise to reward you if you do as they ask. Any dialogue will be delivered by a voice actor and displayed on the screen in text format. Once you complete the task then you will be rewarded.
As well as completing tasks, you will need to tackle a number of Hidden Object scenes that are identified by an outbreak of sparkles. Hidden Object game play follows the familiar standard of pairing a cluttered scene with a text list of items to find. Any item coloured yellow in the text list will require an additional action before it can be selected. This action could involve lighting a lantern, using a magnet to find a key or painting a flower. You will be rewarded with one of the items found.
The game features a number of puzzle type mini games. These puzzle are varied in style and are generally designed to fit in with the game's atmosphere. If any puzzle proves too difficult then a Skip option will become available after a period of delay. On more than one occasion I was tempted to use the Skip option.
I enjoyed the challenge of the game with its mixture of well-drawn graphics, special animated effects and interesting puzzles. 9 The Dark Side is available from Big Fish Games priced at $2.99 for downloading. The game requires a 2.0 GHz processor with 2048MB of RAM and 209MB of hard disk space running Windows XP and later.
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