"So addicting, you'll have to enter rehab after playing for a month"

Just staying away from the game long enough to write this review is giving me withdrawal pains. Let's make this quick then...

Graphics: 7

Compared to some of the later PS2 games (red faction, zone of the enders), the graphics aren't all that, but they're certainly adequate. They're mostly on par with DOA2, except for some rare frame rate weirdness around certain parts (large waterfalls, large windmills, and so on).

Sound: 7

Most of the music isn't anything extraordinary. A couple of tracks are good (The music in the moon factory kinda reminds me of chrono cross), but most of it's just... well, *there*. Not overly great, but not supremely annoying either.

It gets a 7, then, because I liked the sound effects. Particularly the sound effects you hear when you kill a monster... not really realistic, not entirely wacky, but somewhere in *just* the right spot in-between. The other sound effects are nice too.

Control: 10

No problems here, chief.

Story: 7

A power-hungry general unseals an evil power, and a young boy is entrusted to save the world by going through several dungeons and rebuilding the world's towns and eventually defeating the evil force. Yawn. I'm genuinely surprised they didn't make you save a princess on your travels; it certainly wouldn't have been out of place.

The 2 extra points are for a bit of weirdness encountered through your travels. It's not on the level of, say, earthbound, but there's some genuinely weird stuff going on. Perverted stuff, too (go have your fortune told in queens)...

Game play: Trying to convey dark cloud's greatness through a numeral is like trying to accurately portray the Face of God... with a crayon.

You go into a dungeon. You find a few pieces of the town the dungeon is near. You go out and place a few pieces of the town in hopes of a reward. You go back into dungeon. Rinse, lather, repeat. And yet the game doesn't seem too repetitive at all (for me, at least).

It might be because of all the weapon tweaking madness: You can put various items on your weapons (gems, anti-class stones, elemental crystals, stat modifiers, and even other weapons that have been broken down into something called a ''synthsphere''), and they all up your weapon's goodlyness in one way or another. ''Oh, how boring. Attachments. Yay,'' I hear you say. But wait! When your weapon levels up (yes, your weapon gets experience points instead of you. More on that in a bit), it'll absorb any attachments still on it (and also gain 1 point in endurance and attack), and they'll become permanent. Then you can attach more stuff, and absorb it! And again! And some more! Wh33! But there's even more than that. After your weapon has gone up enough in certain stats, you can evolve it. This gives your weapon higher maxes, and, on occasion, special attributes like Durability and Draining, and even Quenching, which slows down your thirst.

Leveling up your weapons is simple: Anytime you kill an enemy with a weapon equipped, that weapon gets absorbtion points (ABs). When the weapon's ABs is full, you can upgrade it. But only if it doesn't break! Along with ABs, there's another set of points called weapon points (WHp). The more you use the sword on enemies, the more your WHp decreases. If it ever gets to 0... *POOF!* The weapon breaks, and is gone forever (except for each character's default weapon, which just gets a bigtime decrease in power until you repair it). You can restore your weapon's WHp only through the use of a very handy-dandy item called repair powder. Needless to say, you'll be stocking up on those.

On to synthspheres. See, after a weapon gets to level 5, you can ''status break'' it into a synthsphere. A synthsphere has about %60 of each of the weapon's stats, which it'll give to whatever weapon you put it on. You can only have one attached at a time (as it needs to be put on a blue slot, and weapons only have 1 blue slot), but, like any other attachment, leveling up the weapon with a synthsphere attached will make it absorb the synthsphere (and all it's powering-up goodness) permanently. There is a limit to how many weapons a weapon can absorb, though, so don't go thinking you can just put 1000 shamshirs into your 7th heaven and call it a day...

Weapons lead to battle, and so me talking about weapons leads to me talking about: the battle system. Uh... not really much here... think ''Zelda 64'' with elementals and monster classes and you've pretty much got it.

So your actual character doesn't level up. ''You mean my guys'll never get stronger?!'' I hear you moan. But this isn't the case. Instead of getting stat boosts through EXP, dark cloud's characters get boosts by using items. HP is boosted by eating ''fruit of eden'' (which looks pretty much like a white apple), the thirst meter is expanded by using ''gourds'', and defense is upped by giving each character his/her favorite food. You'll find the necessary items in chests around the place that appear near buildings every time you clear a dungeon level. These chests also hold other things, everything from bread to power up powder.

Yes, I said thirst meter. In a small li'l twist of the ol' dungeon aspect (it doesn't occur outside of dungeons), your characters have a thirst meter than measures how thirsty they are. Once it's empty, your character'll start taking damage until... death. It can be replenished by drinking water items (never go into a dungeon without at least a few) or by taking a dip into a pond of water in a dungeon. If there is one...

Which leads to the next aspect: dungeons. Randomized dungeons, to be specific. Random layout, random enemy count, random treasure, you get the idea. The atla you get on each floor, however, isn't randomized.

Which leads us to dark cloud's claim to fame: The georama system. You get pieces for the different towns in spheres called atla (which are found in dungeons), and you place them around town as you please. You can't skip it, either: certain required keys, items, and even characters will only be given out when you've finished rebuilding someone's house , at which point an event will occur. Events are nifty little things: sometimes you'll get lame crap like cheese and repair powder, whereas other times you'll get way kickass stuff like the sun sword.

That's not all, folks! Each citizen (which you also find in atla; apparently people don't mind being condensed into energy and put in a large orb one bit) has a request for how they want their town rebuilt, stuff like ''put my house next to his'' or ''make my house face something''. If you can manage to please them all (and complete the entire town), you'll touch off another special event where something is given to you. Like events, sometimes it's good stuff like toan's ''windmill slash'' special attack (hold attack to charge up for it, natch), and sometimes it's lame stuff like 1 power up powder and a battle axe. But no matter what you get, it just gives you a warm feeling inside to have finally completed that town, after hours of toil.

Oh, and you can arrange the buildings however you like. You know, for that whole ''customization'' thing...

Finally, there's fishing. It's not complicated: get a rod, put a lure on it, and fish. Certain fish like certain lures, and some only come out at specific times of day. You'll get fishing points when you catch something, which can be traded in for healing items, stat-boosting gems (probably your most common FP buy), and even weapons. That's pretty much it. And yet it's so... addicting. Like dark cloud needed more addiction power...

Replay: Once again, a numerical evaluation would be wildly inaccurate.

I was toying with the idea of giving the replay a zero. Not because you'll never want to play it again, but because, with all the weapon-tweaking, the enemy-slaying, and the pure addiction power of this game, you might not *stop* playing in the first place. And there can be no replay if you never stop playing, now can there?

Addiction power: 4 billion

You'll experience withdrawal pains when forced to not play this game some more (family reunions, funerals, etc.). It's THAT addicting. ''Yeah yeah, we all loved grandma. She was kind and sweet and blah blah blah. Now take me back home! I need to build my Evilcise into a 7th Heaven!''

Quote-ability: lots

''Osmond is now joined your ally'' is gong to become the next ''all your base are belong to us''. You just wait and see if it doesn't...

And there you have it. All the reasons you should drop everything you're doing and go buy this game now. Yes, *now*, this very instant. WHAT ARE YOU STILL READING THIS FOR?! GO BUY YOUR COPY OF DARK CLOUD BEFORE SOMEONE ELSE DOES!!


And no, that wasn't that quick. In fact, I hereby dub this ''My longest review ever''. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go play more dark cloud. Or get some sleep, if I can bear to turn off my PS2...

Reviewer's Score: 10/10

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  • Model: Sony Playstation 2
  • Shipping Weight: 2lbs
  • 1 Units in Stock

This product was added to our catalog on Sunday 17 July, 2011.

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