The Shining series is one I’ve never been able to get into; I usually dive into the first Shining Force game after hearing others effuse about how good the sequel is, only to quickly give up after remembering how overwhelmingly clunky the whole thing feels compared to other strategy games of that era (most notably Bahamut Lagoon and the Fire Emblem series). Shining in the Darkness, on the other hand, is a game I’ve never really made an effort to get into. Since it involves wandering around a same-y looking dungeon and I have no sense of direction whatsoever, giving it a wide berth made perfect sense. Stubbornness demands that I occasionally try uncomfortable things, however, and so I decided to see how far I can get.
The wizard-looking guy from the header image first asks me for my name. Sadly, the five-character limit keeps me from coming up with anything too elaborate (when I last played through Arcanum, it was as a mage named Prickly Thunderbottom). Still, there’s something nice about knowing that someday the people will tell their grandchildren the story of JERK’s grand adventure as a bedtime story.
My good friends have totally believable and not at all fabricated names. Did they witness a murder or something? This is why they need to start banning Dungeons & Dragons players from witness relocation jobs.
Being that JERK appears to be a silent protagonist, everyone insists on speaking on my behalf. Apparently the princess is missing and my dad was with her, so I have to go hunt down the both of them. I’m given 200 gold to go buy weapons because it’s only the princess’ life at stake. Apparently the kingdom is in a recession.
See? I buy a single short sword and my savings are already blown. Does the castle not have an armory? Or hell, even an armed guard who could loan me a sword? Part of me is getting paranoid that the king wants me to suck and die.
Just as the minister explains that the princess was last sighted near “the Labyrinth,” the villain Dark Souls shows up and tells everyone that he kidnapped the princess and wants to trade her for control of the kingdom. Given the fact that the king is a cheapskate and the kingdom is probably in a recession due to his mismanagement, I think it’s a pretty sweet deal. Alas, no one else sees it the same way, and I’m thus granted permission to enter the Labyrinth and find the princess who may or may not actually be inside. This is the laziest princess rescue I’ve ever been a part of.
Before leaving, I make a point to talk to some of the people in the throne room. This guy Theos seems to know a lot about Dark Souls and his weaknesses. That’s highly suspicious, as are his thick eyebrows. Those eyebrows ooze malice.
I enter the Labyrinth and immediately start walking into walls. Before long, I’ve encountered my first mob of enemies and beaten them, but they manage to take me from 24 HP to 13 HP in the process. That might be a problem.
Oh right, I forgot to actually equip the sword I bought earlier. Brilliant, JERK. Absolutely fantastic. This is obviously going to be one of those journeys.