Dark Earth - an Old School Post Apocalyptic Video Game

I've been between houses for a while now, and my plans have changed a fair bit recently so I'm shuffling stuff around and sorting through a lot of my books. My last post about Metanoia had a photo of some of my library packed away in boxes, as well as spilling out of them onto the floor. One of the books visible is the game guide for one of the stories that cemented my love of the Post Apocalyptic genre - Dark Earth.

 I never understood why this guy is on the cover, he's wearing the outfit of the bad guys, but he's not even a character in the game?

I never understood why this guy is on the cover, he's wearing the outfit of the bad guys, but he's not even a character in the game?

Released in 1997 by Kalisto Entertainment, Dark Earth was a fantastic RPG that had some pretty impressive graphics... for the time. The backgrounds were fully detailed art pieces that your animated characters moved through - so while there was a high level of disconnect between all the characters and the world itself, it was still a pretty impressive game visually. 

 The backgrounds were largely static, but very impressive for the time.

The backgrounds were largely static, but very impressive for the time.

The basic premise of the game was that the old world was wiped out by a meteor shower when a comet passed by close to earth, and most of human civilization was destroyed. Dust clouds were thrown into the air and, baring a few sacred areas, the earth was shrouded in darkness. It wasn't just any old meteor shower though, as the stones from space brought with them a dark power - one the Shankr. The Shankr are a race of dark beings that wish to destroy all, and they're opposed by the Runkas, beings of light that slumber beneath the earth.

So while most of the earth is shrouded in darkness and twisted monsters roam the shadows, there are areas where light breaks through the clouds and reaches the ground below. Thanks to the Runkas, these illuminated areas are safe for human habitation and are the last bastions of humanity, three hundred years after the old world ended.

 One of the upper sections of the city - there ain't no poor people here.

One of the upper sections of the city - there ain't no poor people here.

As the game starts, you play as Arkhan - a Guardian of Fire in the city of Sparta. Your role is to protect the Sunseers, priests that lead worship of the holy light, and ensure that the fires which protect the city from the Shankr beasts never go out. You're caught up in the eternal battle between the light and the dark however, and you find yourself poisoned by the Shankr Archessence - a poison that slowly turns you into a Shankr beast.

 You start twisting into a monster pretty early in the game.

You start twisting into a monster pretty early in the game.

Despite your role as a protector of the city, the fact that you're turning into a monster turns most of the cities inhabitants against you. You discover ruins of the old world, harness old world weaponry and discover an ancient organisation and the reason why light pierces the clouds at specific points. You've still got a few old friends, in the Guardians of Fire as well as the Sunseers, but these are few and far between.

 The specter of the old world is always present in Dark Earth...

The specter of the old world is always present in Dark Earth...

You've got to unravel the a plot to overthrow the power structure of the city, discover who is working with the Shankr as well as find a way to cure yourself of the Shankr Archessence before it turns you into a slavering beast. You progress through the game and explore the city of Sparta and the world of Dark Earth, encountering devout yet poor citizens and dastardly rogues. 

 Do. Not. Fuck. With. This. Man.

Do. Not. Fuck. With. This. Man.

It's one of my favourite games, despite how old it is. I'd love to see Dark Earth remade, because I think the world has a lot of potential. There was so much that was left unanswered! You get outside the city, for a very short time, and there's a whole world out there still to explore. There are Wanderers who brave the Darklands, nomadic tribes that travel between the few remaining human settlements to trade and bring news. The battle between the Shankr and the Runkas is eternal and the conflict presented in the game is just between one member of each group, so there's plenty of fertile ground there for further exploration.

If anyone out there is ever looking to purchase an established IP and put some work into it, I couldn't recommend Dark Earth highly enough. It's got a simple set up that's still prevalent to this day, look at Destiny's "Light vs Dark" story, and it could easily be built upon.

Till next time.