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
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
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
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
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