Legacy: Dark Shadows
is an old-fashioned third person point-and-click story-driven
adventure game. It was developed by Razbor Studios, a new game
developer located in Croatia.
Your character is Ren Silver, a private investigator in the 22nd
century. Usually she only gets boring assignments involving missing
pets and unfaithful husbands. Occasionally she gets more interesting
cases which she investigates along with her friends, Ted the
journalist and Hacker the... um... I guess you'd call Hacker a
droid. He's a bit more intelligent than the average robot you meet
in the game. Perhaps he is somehow communicating with the dolphin
that swims around in the tank behind him. I was never clear on how
much the dolphin was contributing to the situation. How much was
meant by the words "D00lphin says hi!" on a computer screen at a
critical moment in the game?
Anyway, when we first meet Ren, she is arriving on Mars for a
vacation. Mars wouldn't be my first choice, but I suppose it's a
change of scene of sorts. Ren hasn't been there long when Hacker
contacts her to inform her that their mutual friend Ted has been
kidnapped along with a scientist from the Albert Hawking Institute.
It seems that being a snoopy journalist doesn't pay. But was Ted the
real target of the kidnapping or was it the scientist, Professor
Harper Lee? What diabolical mystery had Ted uncovered that led to
In her search for Ted, Ren will visit a mining colony on Mars, a
mining installation on an asteroid, and various locations on Earth,
including a buried and mostly forgotten part of the city that holds
a secret the government doesn't want discovered.
The game doesn't actually start with Ren. It starts with a scene
that takes place back in 1941 in the trenches of the Stalingrad war
zone during World War II. You play as a man you don't recognize and
it isn't until much later in the game that you learn the
significance of what happens during this scene and why it affects
Despite the subtitle Dark Shadows, this game has absolutely
nothing to do with the vampire soap opera of the same name that
aired on US television back in the 1960's (and in numerous reruns).
Silverload may have featured vampires in the Old West, but if there
exists a game that features vampires in outer space, this isn't it.
There are no vampires in Legacy: Dark Shadows.
comes on three CD's. It allows a complete install to the hard drive,
so after installation you can put your CD's away for safekeeping.
You do not need a CD in the drive to play the game.
Controls and Inventory
is a third person point-and-click adventure game. If you enjoyed the
interface in The Longest Journey and Syberia,
Legacy is very similar. You move around the screen by clicking
on it. The default cursor is an arrow. The cursor will light up
green if you hover it over an exit point, where you can move to a
different screen, or in front of an area where you can zoom in for a
closeup. Usually you'll see Ren on the screen, except when you're in
a closeup. Double-clicking on an exit will cause Ren to run instead
Ren is able to comment on objects in the environment, similar to the
way April did in The Longest Journey. If you hover your
cursor over an object, you'll see a description of the object (if
you have the description option enabled in the game options).
Left-clicking on the object will elicit a comment from Ren. Some of
her comments are humorous, some give a clue, and some are just
"can't do that." If an item is collectable, left-clicking will bring
up a choice of "look," which produces a comment from Ren, or "take,"
which adds the item to inventory. You use an inventory item in the
usual way - by left-clicking on it to pick it up and then clicking
it where you want to use it. Sometimes you combine objects in
inventory by clicking one of them on the other. The inventory closes
automatically when you pick up an item and then move it outside the
To talk with another character you left-click on them. This brings
up a choice of "look" or "talk." If Ren has nothing more to say to a
person, she'll simply say "Bye." There are some people in the game
who are just part of the background scenery and Ren will not
interact with them.
Ren moves around locations on earth by means of a type of
hovercraft. When she enters the hovercraft, the screen changes to a
green on black grid showing what locations are available. You select
the location you want by left-clicking on it. Locations on the grid
will appear and disappear according where you are in the game.
Right-clicking will bring up the inventory, which has eight visible
spaces for stashing the items you collect. Besides right-clicking,
you can left-click on the picture of the inventory in the upper left
of the screen to access it. Scrolling arrows allow you to see
additional inventory spaces (you aren't limited to eight). The
inventory is self-cleaning and I don't think I ever had more than
eleven spaces filled. There is one exception to the self-cleaning
rule - Ren carries around an unloaded gun throughout most of the
game. She is never able to reload it once she runs out of ammo, so I
don't know why it wasn't removed from inventory along with other
items that had served their purpose.
One option, which I missed because I couldn't find the manual, is to
use the middle mouse button or the "L" key while holding a document
or map on your cursor. This will give an enlarged view of the
document or map. It isn't necessary for gameplay to look at items in
closeup this way, but it does explain how Ren knows enough to look
in certain locations after receiving a document. It gives you a
reason to go to an area you see on the grid map besides just
"because it's there."
Besides the items you pick up, the inventory also has buttons for
permanent items. These include a camera, a sample collector, and a
descrambler for opening locks. There is also a LOG button, which you
can use to get a recap of Ren's exploits. Sometimes the log will
contain clues about what she needs to do next.
Cut scenes and conversations can be skipped by using the spacebar.
Menus and Options
The main menu screen has selections for New (to start a new game),
Resume, Save, Load, Options, and Quit. Options allow you to toggle
subtitles and descriptions of items on and off. There are also
controls for brightness and music volume. The main menu is available
when you first start the game. While playing the game, the main menu
can be accessed by clicking on the Menu icon at the top right of the
The number of saved games you can have is apparently unlimited. I
had over 90 saves on one of my computers. If there is a way to save
over old saves from within the game, I didn't find it. Saves are
very small, something like 7KB each, so the amount of hard drive
space they use is negligible. But if you have a lot of saves, you'll
have to do a lot of scrolling before you get to the latest one. When
you start the game and go to load a save, the oldest saves will be
displayed rather than the newest ones.
When you save the game, you are allowed to name your save. When you
go to load the save, the name you chose will appear under a small
screenshot of your save location. When you load a game, you use the
arrows to scroll to the save you want, click the save, and click OK.
An option to Cancel is provided in case you change your mind. Nine
saves are displayed at a time. One thing that initially confused me
is that the arrows seem to scroll the saves in the opposite
direction from what I expected, the left arrow scrolling the saves
to the right instead of to the left.
Most of the puzzles in Legacy are inventory puzzles. If you
find yourself stuck, it usually means you've missed picking up or
using an inventory item somewhere, or possibly talking to a
character to trigger a hotspot. Some actions cannot be taken until
properly triggered, in which case Ren will often comment that she
has to do something else first. The game did a good job of making
sure you could never be stuck in a dead end. As far as I know, if
you need an item you'll always be able to go back and get it.
There weren't any conversation tree puzzles, though it was sometimes
necessary to talk to an individual more than once to make an action
or inventory item available.
There are a few "puzzley" puzzles that you'll encounter. These are
set up for you by a computer that has had its memory scrambled. When
you solve the puzzle on the monitor screen, the computer allows you
to move to a new area. As far as I can remember, there are only
three of these and they are fairly easy. They are not arcade games
that require fast reflexes or hand-eye coordination.
Graphics are 1024x768. Backgrounds are prerendered and characters
are in 3D, similar to the way they are in The Longest Journey
and Syberia. The viewing area is "widescreen" type, with dark
areas above and below the image. The dark area on top includes the
inventory and menu icons that you can click on to bring up the
inventory or main menu screen, but the dark area on the bottom is
There were some nice background animations. Some areas had rain or
fog effects. Lights blinked on and off in city backgrounds and on
computer consoles. One area had a roller skater occasionally appear
at the side of the screen. In Hacker's lair a dolphin swims around
in the background. And there are numerous other small animations.
Although the graphics in the interactive part of the game were sharp
and detailed, some of the cut scenes were a bit blurry. Not terribly
so, but they looked "softer" than the rest of the game. Cut scenes,
like interactive screens, were "widescreen" rather than full screen.
Character animation wasn't as good as in big budget action games,
but was serviceable. Ren moved in a reasonably lifelike manner. But
sometimes when running she'd stay in one place for a few steps, then
put on a sudden spurt. It reminded me of old Warner Brothers
cartoons. Ren also had a habit of looking at the bottom of her foot,
as if she'd stepped in something. There was no attempt at lip synch
at all, which didn't bother me much but which might bother some
Sound quality was mixed. Background sounds were very good. Most
sound effects were also good. Some effort was made to adapt the
sound of footsteps to the surface Ren was walking on, though in a
couple of places it didn't sound quite right.
Voice acting was mixed. Most of the actors spoke with accents, which
doesn't bother me, though it bothers some people. I don't remember
having any problem with any of the male actors. But except for Ren
herself, who I liked, most of the female actors were not very good.
Fortunately only Ren had much of a part. Occasionally I could hear a
difference in sound quality where different microphones were
apparently used to record speeches that were part of the same
Music was generally very good. It was at its best when it suited the
mood of the situation. The music on the asteroid was especially
good. The music that played when Ren arrived at the prison was also
very good for setting the mood. There were only a couple of areas
where music was aggravating. One was the Ares hotel, where a piano
version of Beethoven's 5th played on a short loop. I was in and out
of the hotel a lot and that music got very repetitive. The
other really aggravating music is what plays when you exit the game.
Fortunately you can skip it if you are quick about hitting the
spacebar as soon as you quit (or turning off your speakers, which I
could never remember to do). It's the type of music I usually think
of as "get 'em out of the theatre music" - the kind of music that
plays at the end of certain movies and which doesn't resemble any of
the other music in the movie. It is so bad that it no doubt serves
the function of clearing the theatre as quickly as possible. The
game makers actually made a "song" out of the absolute worst
sounding voice in the game - a female voice that was so awful that
I'd rather listen to a Siamese cat in heat. I'm telling you I
couldn't hit that space bar fast enough.
(as listed on the game site)
Pentium III 800 MHz or AMD Duron
900 MHz [Pentium IV 1200 MHz recommended]
256 MB system RAM [512 MB
12x CDROM [32x or better
3D video card with 32 MB video
RAM (1024x768, 16-bit)
[3D video card with 64 MB video
RAM (1024x768, 32-bit recommended)]
DirectX 8.1 or higher
700 MB free hard drive space
[1.5 GB free hard drive space recommended]
The computers I played it on
Windows 2000 SP2
Athlon 64 3200+
1024 MB system RAM
16X Toshiba SD-M1702 DVD drive
Nvidia Geforce 5700 FX with 256
MB video RAM
onboard sound (AD1980 on ASUS K8V
motherboard identified by Windows as SoundMax)
Windows 2000 SP2
Athlon XP 1800+ (about 1533 MHz)
512 MB system RAM
16X Toshiba SD-M1912 DVD drive
Matrox G550 graphics card with 32
MB video RAM
SBLive Value 5.1
Both computers had a tendency to drop me back to the desktop during
the game, usually without warning. The 1800+ would sometimes lose
background sounds shortly before doing so, which warned me it was
time to save and exit. The 3200+ dumped me on the desktop much less
often, though I don't know why. (If "It's desktop time!" had to do
with video card memory, why would the 3200+ with its 256 MB card
have a problem at all?) Usually it was entirely random when I would
meet the desktop, but I ran into a recurring problem when exiting
the area behind the barrels at the ACME power plant. I was never
able to get past that point on the 1800+, but was eventually able to
get past it with the 3200+, so I was able to save and copy the save
to the hapless 1800+. I haven't heard of anyone else having a
problem at this particular location.
With most other games, the random appearance of the desktop would
have been a lot more annoying. But it only took a few seconds to
restart Legacy and load my last saved game. That's one
advantage of the game - it starts right up without your hard drive
going through a lot of indigestion first.
Easy, intuitive game interface
No motion sickness problems
Just as with The Longest
Journey or Syberia, your character can't be killed in the
Many hotspots that you can click
on to get a variety of comments - similar to the system in The
There are no arcade games, action
sequences, or timed sequences in the game - nothing that requires
Not a difficult game - suitable
for those who are new to adventure games.
Probably too easy for those who
want a challenging game (low difficulty can be either a positive or
a negative thing).
Legacy: Dark Shadows
did not come with a printed manual. There isn't even a pdf included
with the game, only a link to a pdf file on the game's website that
appears in your Start\Programs menu after you install the game. It
is easy to miss seeing it if you start the game from a desktop
shortcut instead of the Start\Programs menu. Although for the most
part the game interface is so intuitive you don't need to consult
the manual (unless you want some background on story and
characters), the function of the middle mouse button (or "L" key)
will be unfamiliar to those who've played games with similar
interfaces. And if you don't use this function when available, you
get a continuity gap in the story.
And about the pdf manual on the
game's website - it is all white print on a black background (except
for a picture of Ren which is also against a black background). So
if you try printing it out it will use up all your ink.
There were some pixel hunts -
items that are very hard to see and which have small hotspots. There
are also similarly labeled items that may be functionally different.
A barrel, for example, may be different from all the other barrels.
The eastern European accents of
most of the characters and the lack of lip synch may bother some
Some items (or game areas) don't
come active until you trigger something, and there is no clue given
that they'll ever come active. Ren doesn't always say she'll need to
do something else first. So you can be fooled into not checking
these items again.
After all the trouble I went to
to acquire the Crogun, I would have liked more opportunity to
actually use it.
Although the story was pretty
good, it could have been deeper and there were a lot of questions
that weren't answered. There was one rather serious problem that Ren
encountered under the city that was never resolved. And is the bad
guy really dead or isn't he? There is certainly room for a sequel.
I'd have liked more insight into
Ren's character and what she thought about things. An ex-police
officer turned private investigator might be pretty stoic, but
surely some of what Ren encountered would have had more of an effect
on her than what I saw. And what were her thought processes as she
solved the mysteries she encountered? How did she feel when she
first landed on the asteroid and saw ... ?
I'd also have liked to know more
about the bad guy. Pretty much everything you find out about him is
in a log you find near the end of the game - which isn't all that
different from what you can read on the game's website.
I'd recommend Legacy to almost any fan of third person
story-driven point-and-click adventure games with inventory puzzles.
It would also be a good choice for inexperienced adventure gamers
who want a game that is on the easy side. I wouldn't recommend it to
those who want a challenging game with tough puzzles or those who
don't like science fiction.
Overall Grade D
(I gave my original grade of B thinking my computer was to blame for crashes. But it turned out my computer had a lot FEWER crashes than most people experienced with this game. Nor was the game ever properly patched. So in my opinion, it should get a D rather than a B.)
December 8, 2004
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