Heart of Darkness

Graphics: 5
Sound: 5
Control: 4
Depth: 4
Overall: 4

Heart of Darkness

By: Amazing Studio
Published By: Interplay
Released: 1998

One of my favorite games from back when I actively used my Amiga computer was Out of This World/Another World, designed by √Čric Chahi. His follow up game, Heart of Darkness, took six years to complete; so long that when it was finished, the original target consoles—the 3DO and Amiga CD32—were no longer on the market. Sporting similar gameplay and a similar short game length, fans of Out of This World should be right at home.

The 3D-rendered cut scenes are some of the best ever on the PlayStation One, both in terms of image quality and in actual animation. While the cut scenes in Final Fantasy 7 and Tekken 3 are very good, pay attention to the lighting and the range of movement of the characters in Heart of Darkness. The style is a cross between classic Warner Bros cartoons and Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal, and I feel it even surpasses the first Toy Story at times.

Getting back to the game, I have been waiting for one with the animation quality of Dragon’s Lair to have somewhat complicated mechanics. Older titles such as Earthworm Jim and Rayman began to approach this goal, and I feel Heart of Darkness is one of the closest yet. The story can get hokey at times; similar to some of Steven Spielberg’s 1980s movies, but the beautiful and imaginative locales and puzzles make up for it.

The audio in the game is great, from the voice acting to the orchestrated score. The highlight though, is definitely the atmospheric sound effects peppered throughout the game.

In terms of gameplay, be prepared for trial and error as you progress from screen to screen. This may frustrate some, but it rarely gets repetitive and I feel it was worth the effort to get immersed in the game’s world. while I still slightly prefer Out of This World (and Flashback for that matter), this is a textbook hidden gem for the PlayStation. By 1998, this style of game was out of fashion, but to my mind it just helps Heart of Darkness stand out more.

-Ben Langberg