Adventure & Mystery
Darkseed II (the sequel to Darkseed, from Cyberdreams) is based on the illustrations of Swiss surrealist artist H.R. Giger, whose designs for Alien influenced a whole generation of future-trash-organic-mechanic Hollywood science fiction. Different CD-ROM designers have shown different strategies in adapting work from acclaimed artists who made their name in other mediums. For example, a disc based on a Harlan Ellison story — another master of the macabre, who incidentally collaborated with Mr. Giger on the H.R. Giger Screen Saver (Cyberdreams) — strives to be as unique and disorienting as Mr. Ellison’s original story, which was called I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. That CD-ROM doesn’t put much focus on graphics or conventional problem-solving, preferring to stress less-explored areas like character and ideas. Darkseed II, with H.R. Giger as its visual ace-in-the-hole, takes exactly the opposite approach: it offers a very conventional game that seeks to dazzle with great graphics and a solid, derivative mystery. Except for some overlong dialogue and a simpering protagonist, it succeeds. You’ve seen all the elements before; a Twin Peaks-type town becomes the gateway to Another Hellish Realm. You control an ex-mental patient (made that way in the first installment of the series) who nobody believes. From the opening sequence, in which the hero dreams of his ex-girlfriend and her eyes and tongue dissolve down her face, to the eventual explorations of the intricately-rendered Dark World, the disc is good hokey fun, and provokes consistent exclamations of “bitching!”. Giger’s visions elevate the proceedings above your basic adventure-horror game, but not far above – they’re too well-suited to the old formula to make many changes in it.
– February 1996