Being an evil mastermind is easy for one like me, but choosing good and challenging games for my genius, well that isn't easy. Especially when many of them are rehashes of the same-old same-old. Not this one, however. With a nice combat system, intriguing puzzles, and a plot good enough even for one as clever as myself, The Dark Heart of Uukrul is one heck of a good game.
So, what is it about? Well, basically your party is sent on a mission to destroy Uukrul, the evil lord of an underground land. You are NOT the first to try this, as a whole army was sent against him before you are sent. But, in typical hero fashion, they failed. MISERABLY. All that remains of them is the diary of one of the warriors. Heh, typical heroes, always failing. Oh yeah, the review. So now it is up to your band of warriors (four in all - why do they always come in fours?), each a different class, to succeed where a whole army of heroes failed. Of course, being a bad guy myself, you know who I am rooting for.
So you take your heroes, their little soul gems (more on those later) and their basic equipment and you set them in the underground world. Unlike in most RPGs, you cannot choose the classes of your team in this game. No, you have a set foursome: one Fighter (wields all the heavy weapons and armor), one Paladin (able to fight well and lay on hands for healing), one Priest (who can pray to various incredible deities), and one Wizard (if you do not know what a Wizard does, you are really out of it!). This may seem to take away from the game as a whole, but in the end, this is all part of the magic. See, you need this exact team in order to solve each puzzle, and there are a lot of those! The game is loaded with puzzles, and each of them is unique. Even the copy protection, which can be defeated with the printout of the soul gems, is a puzzle! In order to use the sanctuaries, which heal characters and allow game saving, you must use the gems to decode the language of each sanctuary. How exactly is this done? Well, I'm evil, so I am not telling. You have to look at the instructions on the gems to find out.
But that is only the beginning. One rule of thumb in this game: ALMOST NOTHING IN THE GAME IS USELESS! You may even have to retrieve items which you've thrown away because they seemed useless. And that is not good, considering how many of Uukrul's minions there are just waiting for a hero sandwich.
This happens to be another of the strengths of this diabolical game: the combat. Through the majority of the game you are playing from a first-person perspective, but the combat is much more strategic, similar to Ultima IV in appearance and execution. Not only that, but the animation of movement, spells, and attacks is well done, considering when the game was made. On the downside, prayers and spells require the user to spell their titles correctly. Not easy, considering these are not in a language I ever heard of - except maybe ancient Demonic script...
Of course, combat and puzzles may be the main joys of the game, but there are others. One is that the characters need food and water to survive, another being that, when one dies, a character has to be revived quickly, or else it will not work and a new partner will have to take their place. Personally, I like that part. After all, heroes can be easily replaced, like most of my minons.
Overall, The Dark Heart of Uukrul is a unique RPG experience that gamers should try at least once. It has it all: incredible difficulty, well-made combat system, unique puzzles, and a storyline that is very well thought out. I give this game a 4 out of 5. Anyone who says otherwise will meet the wrath of Uukrul!