The Dark Stone from Mebara Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD

The Dark Stone from Mebara Review



Roleplaying games have been a part of my life ever since I started gaming. Titles such as Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest really turned my head around so as to appreciate the art style, unique gameplay, character development, and creative storytelling. I was intrigued upon receiving a copy of The Dark Stone from Mebara because it mixes detective elements with RPG battle sequences. After, regrettably, opening the game for the first time I realized it would have been better unopened and hidden away in my Steam library.

The Dark Stone from Mebara failed from the moment I started playing it by presenting me with a windowed, 580×560 box featuring the game title screen. Irritated by this resolution I tried to find an option menu but the main menu simply doesn’t have one. There is no option to change video settings in-game, either. Nor are there gameplay options or advanced options but only sound options. This was already an immense let down and I had a nagging feeling it was only going to go downhill from there – oh so very downhill.

Firstly, the story of The Dark Stone from Mebara is hard to explain considering the dialogue is incomprehensible – I’ll get to that in a bit – but this was what I gathered. Based on the H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, the game is set in 1924 Massachusetts in a town called Little Berlin. You play as a detective named Aloysius Monroe. He works for an agency called Pendleton Detective Agency with his fellow colleagues, Pendleton and Professor Webley. Apparently, Monroe and his companions find out Van Euther has been murdered and have to find out who did it and why. While searching the scene of the crime, Monroe finds a dark obsidian stone in his dresser. After taking the stone back to the office the team discovers it has mystic powers and can summon evil creatures from the nether world. The story is generic, at best, but also unsuccessful by not making a single pinch of sense with the help from the dialogues.

Dialogues are what the game thrives on. Like all old-school RPGs there are dialogue boxes and in these are character portraits attached with what they were saying. The Dark Stone from Mebara does one of the big no-no’s in text and mixes storytelling with dialogue. An example would be Webley saying, “The professor sighs deeply. ‘The longer I look into it, the more it looks like the parents. It’s a dark situation, to be certain.’ Webley takes a long sip of his coffee.” I was constantly getting lost in context and forgetting the story itself. Also, to be noted, the game suffers from tons of grammatical errors. The previous quote was only a snippet of what else was on offer.

Now the gameplay – halfway there and already feeling sick – can be described in two words: “Barely playable.”. The moment you step into the game you want to step the hell out. You control Detective Monroe throughout the game and are left to mosey around looking for clues. If you thought this was going to be easy then you can quit right now because this game is tough. The Dark Stone from Mebara is not being rated in how hard it is but in how well executed it was by being difficult in a fair and playable way. A great example would be the combat. Battles in the game use the battle system similar to that of Final Fantasy. The first combat encounter is a mini boss that does an exuberant amount of damage to each character, but upon defeating it you’ll be awarded with a level-up. Once the boss is dead then you will advance to the next area and soon encounter another enemy. At this point you will most likely die and have to reset at your last save point. There is a healing spell one of the party members can learn but even with that you’ll still be destined for failure. The only vendor, I found, was at the beginning of the game in the library but you won’t be able to get there unless you create a new game and start over. I found the puzzles being the only enjoyable part of the game. Sure, they were tough but they never felt unfair, either.

Graphically, I wasn’t impressed. I understand certain video games use certain visual styles, even if they aren’t extremely extraordinary, but with The Dark Stone from Mebara graphics seem rushed. The clunky animation of the detective walking will make your insides scream. Not to mention that every town or building you enter has the same generic textures as the next one does. In the combat sequences there are hardly any shadows rendered beneath the characters, but there sure is a cartoonish background that doesn’t match anything else. Finally, the character models themselves are 3D model renditions of graphics portrayed in the early 2000’s making the game feel dated. The audio rarely works. At the beginning of the game the music plays but abruptly stops. Upon exiting the building the music starts up and is on an unfinished loop. What doesn’t help is that the songs sound like they are being played from inside of a trash can. The real kicker is how much the game costs! $8. I could understand an Early Access game being this bad because there would be ways of improving upon the given basis upon release, but to release a product such as this is simply mind-boggling.

As an RPG lover I don’t recommend The Dark Stone from Mebara as it is painful to play through. My memory can never erase the mirror image of a game so poorly designed and and yet considered to be a full game. The graphics are a remnant of the early 2000’s, the audio is forgettable, gameplay makes me queasy, and the story would have actually been good if the dialogue wasn’t a horrible mess. I feel the only superb element the game offers are the problematic puzzles. If you like dreadful video games and have $8 to spend then The Dark Stone from Mebara is the ideal choice, though.