Reviewed: November 23, 2007
Released: October 16, 2007
Skyfallen Entertainment and 1C join forces to bring you a hack ‘n’ slash action RPG with the release of Dawn of Magic for the PC. Dawn of Magic is the North American release of the Russian language version known as “Blood Magic”. European gamers also got their crack at Dawn of Magic in April of this year. Dawn of Magic sports the classic Diablo map and control styles, but several new age features are thrown into the fray and you end up with a nice blend of old school and new age gaming.
Modo, an immortal being was banished from the Absolute (essentially the Afterlife) for committing horrible crimes against its people and sentenced to live a moral life on Earth. 40 years into his punishment, Modo sets in motion a plan to destroy the Earth so that he will never be sent there again. You play as one of four heroes tasked with either aiding him in his diabolical plans of thwarting his plans once and for all.
I’ve been playing action RPGs for a long time and with each new game, my list of favorites grows. My all time favorite has to be the Diablo Series. When an RPG allows you to pick what class you use, I usually jump all over the magic users. Magic users in games are often overlooked, because of their low hit points. I think that playing characters like these are a challenge, that and I love raining death upon my unsuspecting enemies.
It should be no surprise that the primary weapon in Dawn of Magic is well… magic. So all combat is done with spells and by carving or bludgeoning your enemies with whatever weapon you have equipped.
Along the bottom of your screen you have your Health Gauge and life Potions display on the bottom left and your Chi Gauge (basically this world’s version of Mana) and Chi Potions in the bottom right of your screen. The potion buttons can be clicked on to use them but you can also the Z and X keys respectively to use them as well. Your Experience bar is shown at the very bottom center of your screen under the Quick Slots Bar allows you to assign up to 8 primary spells at a time on the screen. More can be added by clicking on the arrows on either side of the Slot Bar. You can click on the slot to make it activate or use the 1- 8 hotkeys to switch ever faster. The current spell is highlighted by a spinning yellow aura. Your currently selected quick slot is shown in the upper left hand corner of the screen.
Each quick slot is broken down into two slots: primary and secondary. The primary slot is basically your damage spells, whereas the secondary is your support spell. However damage spells can be used as secondary spells. For example if you use “Fireball” with “Fire Mastery” your resistance to fire is increased as well and amount of damage you inflict on your enemies. But say you use “Fireball” but team it up with the Air Magic spell “Lightning”, when your fireball hits a target a lightning bolt will strike and do additional damage.
In the right hand corner of the screen, there are icons representing your Stats, Inventory, Craft and Book windows when clicked on. Stats and Inventory is pretty self explanatory, but I want to delve in to the other two. Crafting is but one of the various skills available to you in your journey. Here you can modify the properties of items you possess to create new items. An example of this is when you have an unwanted scroll but when you mix it with poison potions you can create random scrolls that may be useful to you. The second thing I want to tell about is the Book (or Spell Book).
The Spell book is one of the most important aspects of Dawn of Magic. But what truly is important is the sheer number of spells you have at your disposal. There is a mind numbing 12 magic schools in Dawn of Magic. Each school has 8 spells so you literally have 96 spells at your disposal. But the coolest part isn’t just using the spells; it’s what happens the more you use the spells. The more you use one of the 12 classes of magic the more your character changes in appearance. So the more your use the School of Fire, the more you look like a demon and the more you use the School of Blood, the more you look like a vampire.
As mentioned about you get to choose one of four characters, known collectively as the Unlikely Heroes. Unlike most RPGs, the characters here aren’t knights, or warrior or any manor of royalty. Dawn of Magic focuses on those down to earth everyday people. They are known as The Fat Friar, The Baker’s Wife, The Awkward Scholar and the Weird Gypsy. Each of the four has unique abilities, strengths and weaknesses that affect their beginning attributes.
The lanky scholar can learn spells faster, but he has also has the shortest amount of life. The Weird Gypsy is the well-rounded character and probably a good character for beginners to start with. The Fat Friar and Baker’s wife are not to particularly bright, but they make up for with strength and life respectively. Not only do you choose your character but you also choose your Alignment and your character type. As mentioned above, you can either aid or thwart Modo’s plans. With that in mind you can pick one of three alignments: Good, Evil and Neutral. Picking Neutral means that you are neither aiding nor stopping Modo. You are simply taking out the most powerful opponents be they good or evil.
You have several profile slots at your disposal so you can feel free to experiment a bit with each of the Alignments. Now Dawn of Magic has three levels of difficulty but sadly you must play the game all the way through on the easiest difficulty to gain access to the second difficulty and again to get the hardest. It would have been nice to be able to choose the difficulty right off the bat instead of beating the game repeatedly. But Dawn of Magic offers another challenge besides the difficulty modes. You have two different character styles you can play as well, mortal and immortal. If you die while playing as an immortal you get to respawn and try again, losing only cash and items, but if you take the mortal path, if you die its game over.
Dawn of Magic, like most RPGs, operates on an Experience points system as means to leveling up. But unlike most RPGs, Dawn of Magic does something that I can’t say that I’ve seen in any other RPG. Each Full Level (1, 2, 3, etc…) is broken down into intermediate levels (or 1+, 1++ and 1+++). For every intermediate level you gain skill and spell points, which you use to increase or learn skills and spells. At each Full Level you gain 1 Stat point, which you use to increase one of the players primary parameters such as Intellect, strength and Energy. Also you gain Health, Chi and maximum weight each time you raise a Full Level.
In Dawn of Magic you also gain access to Tattoos. Tattoos grant the player additional properties or change parameters, You have several Tattoos available to purchase at any Fortune Teller, but some only become available as certain requirements are met. A player can have up to 8 Tattoos on his persons. But a word of caution, Tattoos cannot be removed, so choose wisely. Dawn of Magic not only has a staggering number of spells but also 1,500 pieces of armor and weapons.
There is a lot of NPC interaction in Dawn of Magic. With over 600 Non-Playable Characters in over 100 locations, there is no shortage of people to talk to. While most of what the people say is “Hello” or “I want to be just like you” in readable text, there is actually voice spoken words to be heard alongside text when speaking to an important character.
Dawn of Magic not only features a Single Player mode but a Multiplayer mode as well. You can battle up to 16 people in 4 different modes via LAN or Internet. You can choose to do Free For All, Team Deathmatch, Capture The Flag and Survival. There is actually a 5th mode but it is not used for fighting, but for Trading known as the Market Mode. So not only does Dawn of Magic have a solid Single Player Mode but an equally enticing Multiplayer Mode as well.
I was fairly impressed with camera controls and found that moving my character and spinning the camera around to be a breeze. As seen in some RPGs you can either view everything from above or zoom in to see everything on the ground more closely.
The graphics of Dawn of Magic are actually quite good. They were good to the point that I couldn’t run it at its maximum capacity. Dawn of Magic surprisingly supported the 1680 x 1050 resolution of my monitor. The beginning cutscene was nothing short of amazing. Sure it isn’t as good as some I’ve seen, but I thought it looked really good. One of the things that really caught my eye while playing was the day/night cycles and the shadows that the flora created as the sun shined above.
Dawn of Magic’s background music was well scored, but was overshadowed by the less that graceful voice acting. I give 1C high marks for a great sound score but the voice acting could have been better.
Dawn of magic will literally have you playing for hours. There is so much to do that, I didn’t know where to proceed sometimes. With over 100 locations to visit, you can spend countless hours exploring each place. I love RPGs and I loved the Diablo series. Dawn of Magic is probably one of the coolest hash ‘n’ slash RPGs I have ever played since my days of Diablo obsession. Dawn of Magic retails for $29.99 and is definitely worth a look.
All in all, Dawn of magic is one of the better hack ‘n’ slash RPG titles to come out in some time. I really enjoyed the abundant amount of locations, weapons and spells. Since I favor the mage in most RPGs. I fell right in love with this title. The character morphing was way cool and I think that more games should have this feature. If you are a fan of the tried and true Diablo style gameplay then you will like this game. I highly recommend picking up this title. If you have your doubts there is a demo available out there, but the demo just doesn’t do the game justice.