Shown for the first time at a private showing in the 1996 Los Angeles Electronic Entertainment Expo, Dark Earth is a graphic adventure with three-dimensional prerendered actors that appear remarkably realistic, far surpassing most of the Full Motion Video with animated figures.
The setting is the third millennia, after a massive meteor shower has caused the atmosphere to be clouded with black dust making life on the Dark Earth very difficult and depressing. Religious superstition and scientific progress has mingled, so that satellites and other technology are controlled by religious orders.
Plot: Three hundred years from now, a comet passes close to earth and hundreds of meteors rain down on the planet kicking up dust into the higher reaches of the atmosphere where it was trapped. The sky became a shield against the sun, and the earth became a world or perpetual night. In one day, light became the most valuable commodity on earth and the sun became a god once more.
The protagonist serves the Wise, the police force of the religious elders. When one of the elders is assassinated, the player is called on to solve the murder. Complicating matters is that the player character is infected by a creature of the evil Shankr Lord, and must quest to rid himself of the infection or be permanently turned into a shankr creature, an evil dweller of the dark.
Interface: The interface is almost entirely the first person and third person screen display which will use multiple camera angles that many refer to as cinematic.
Gameplay: There are over 80 three-dimensional characters, 50 locations, 400 camera angles, and 3,500 animations. The story is a non-linear evolving story line, where the plot is determined by the actions of the gameplayer. This dynamic plot generation is supposed to be groundbreaking.
Difficulty: Multiple settings that may involve a difficulty matrix.
Graphics: The highly-detailed three-dimensional characters and backgrounds were rendered with Softimage and 3D Studio. The resolution of 640x480 pixels with 256 colors is standard with full screen cinematic sequences using 32 thousand colors. Interactive real-time, light-sourcing, texture-mapping, gouraud shading, and shadow management will make the graphics special . Animation is real-time three-dimensional.
Voice actors: Over two hours of spoken dialogue
Muscic score: MIDI action-related elevator music.
Next Generation, volume 2, June, 1996, pg. 82-84.
Rebecca Anderson, www.gamespot.com/previews/darkeart/index.html