Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Deep Silver Inc

Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment

Released:  June 2012

PC Requirements:  

•  Windows XP/Vista/7
•  2,5 Ghz Single Core or 2 Ghz Dual Core
•  OpenGL2.0-compatible graphic card with 512 MB RAM (shared memory is not recommended)
•  6 GB HDD
•  2 GB RAM






by Becky


The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav begins in the city of Andergast, as our hero Geron is set upon by bullies. A “Blind Seer” once prophesied that Geron would become a source of misfortune and doom. Since then, whenever something goes wrong in Andergast, the townsfolk blame Geron.

Geron’s guardian is Gwinnling, the local birdcatcher, a gruff man who doesn’t blame his adopted son for the city’s bad luck, but doesn’t treat him with noticeable kindness either. A recent infestation of crows has Gwinnling deeply concerned -- he links it to the incident, thirteen years earlier, when a town mob kidnapped and burned the Blind Seer at the stake. Gwinnling is haunted by a foreboding of darkness enveloping the land.

Each Goodly Thing is Hardest to Begin

Andergast is a city in Aventuria, a medieval-esque fantasy realm similar to that of The Lord of the Rings. The Aventuria universe originally sprang from a pen-and-paper role-playing game popular in Europe. 

I've never played the pen-and-paper Dark Eye game, and it took a while for me to warm up to its Chains of Satinav PC adventure game spinoff, which starts out discouragingly brutal and dark. At first, the main factor that kept me intrigued was Geron’s ability to shrug off the townsfolk's cruelty and make something of himself despite the odds.

It isn’t until the King of Andergast sends Geron on a quest, that I was hooked. Geron ventures into the Stone Oak Forest and encounters the lovely and mysterious Nuri, who represents what is most magical and appealing about this game.

So Faire a Creature

Despite his reputation as a loser, Geron exhibits courage and practicality throughout his endeavors and he grows into a (mostly) traditional adventure hero. Nuri, in contrast, is lonely and helpless and strangely flawed. She’s impulsive at times but, as the quest unfolds, she becomes more accepting and patient. She is full of questions, but reveals very little about herself. Part of the journey involves discovering what Nuri is capable of and who she really is.

Other characters leave their mark – the Seer as he goes up in smoke, the harpist at the still point of the turning world, the scholar on the trail of magical mysteries, the aptly named Honorable Master Harm (well, two out of three). You see how past history and personality faults affect relationships and decisions, adding multidimensionality to the characters.

The writing overall is very good, as are the voiceovers (the dialogs can be clicked through). The game contains plenty of character interaction. One minor quibble – for dialogs, the game employs a close-up screen that loads slowly.

The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav contains many a twist – by the end, almost nothing (or no one) is as it appeared initially. Yet nearly all of the loose ends are eventually tied up and past events begin to make sense. The ending is bitter and sweet in different measures for each character, for Andergast, and the lands beyond.

Gold All is Not that doth Golden Seem

Background graphics in Chains of Satinav have a painterly, watercolor effect, but with depth and quirky, organic detail. They aren’t photorealistic, but not the least bit cartoon-like either. They fit the game’s fantasy themes perfectly. Certain outdoor scenes are jaw-dropping and unforgettable.

During gameplay, the background music is contemplative and mysterious and suits the different worlds -- sometimes medieval and sometimes surreal. A bewitching vocal theme enlivens the main menu.

Cutscenes are narrated, sepia tinted and partially animated. They fit the game’s fantasy theme and add direction and perspective to the story. Animation in general is somewhat stylized – small animations make the worlds feel alive and the characters move smoothly enough not to detract from the gameplay.

For there is Nothing Lost, that may be Found, if Sought

This is a point-and-click adventure game, viewed from the third person perspective. It offers two difficulty levels – in the easier level, the spacebar reveals all hotspots.

Most of the puzzles use inventory items in creative ways. Both Geron and Nuri have a particular magical ability that can be used – usually during multi-stepped sequences in conjunction with various inventory items. There are clues to be analyzed and a few pattern analysis puzzles as well.

A surreal location presents particularly enjoyable challenges where experimentation is necessary to understand the physical/magical rules before using the correct combinations of movement and inventory application.

He that Strives to Touch the Stars

I came to Chains of Satinav not knowing what to expect, and gamed through the first hour feeling almost as downtrodden as Geron. Then Nuri appeared -- lonely, ambivalent, and enchanting -- and the game bloomed into one of the finest fantasy adventure quests of recent vintage, comparable to The Longest Journey and The Book of Unwritten Tales.

Quick List for The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav

An unusually creative medieval fantasy adventure with a twisty heroic quest. Memorable characters, particularly Nuri – a youthful beauty with a blithe attitude. Lots of character interaction. Very good writing and voiceovers. You can click through the dialogs.

Spectacular hand-drawn graphics with background watercolor effects. Sepia tinted, narrated cutscenes between chapters.

Third person perspective, point-and-click interface. Two difficulty levels, one in which the spacebar shows all hotspots. Mostly inventory puzzles, plus a handful of pattern analysis challenges. Puzzle difficulty is medium. The hardest challenge – a surreal puzzle world in which the laws of physics do not always apply. No sliders, no mazes, no sound based puzzles, no timed puzzles, no challenges that require distinguishing colors. You can’t die.

No problems with installation; no glitches. Unlimited save slots. The game contains some violent themes and is not appropriate for young children. About fifteen hours of gameplay.

Aimed at gamers who enjoy a polished, absorbing story and fantastical environments.

Final Grade: A

*Section headings are taken from the works of Edmund Spenser (c. 1552 - 1599).

The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav can be purchased via download from The Adventure Shop or Steam.

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