Overall, things are rosier for the PS3 and Sony fanboys than they have been in years. Sales are up, the machine finally has some decent games, and with the likes of MGS4, Mirrors Edge and Motorstorm: Pacific Rift on the way, the future is looking bright as well. However, there is one area where Sony still seems to lag behind. At a time when Microsoft seems to be putting a game up every week on Xbox Live Arcade and Nintendo is going big on its WiiWare download service, the PSN Store is still running low on original games. Despite the recent facelift, week after week goes by with nary a new game on the service, and the PAL store seems to be the worst afflicted. For instance, while the rest of the PS3 owning world is quietly getting its head around Echochrome, we're only just getting Dark Mist - a game that launched in Japan back in November.
Was it worth the wait? On first impressions, it looks like the answer might be yes. Imagine a Zelda-style 2D action RPG from the PlayStation era, but updated for the modern HD age. While a dungeon crawler, Dark Mist has a lovely line in cel-shaded characters and monsters, not to mention some beautiful dungeon scenery; all rushing fountains, glowing vegetation and intricate textures. It's actually a much better looking game than the screenshots on this page make it look.
Start playing the game, however, and it soon becomes clear that all is not as you might expect. You see, though Dark Mist looks like an action RPG, it's actually a shoot-em-up. Sure, the fantasy setting and what passes for the story (warrior Goddess takes on evil forces) puts it in RPG territory, but in reality each level of the game's dungeon is merely a series of chambers in which you blast the various monsters using your mystic bow. The only elements of adventure or exploration are in navigating the maze-like environments and finding keys to open doors. If you're looking for narrative, puzzles, quests and side quests or anything beyond blasting hordes of beasties to kingdom come, Dark Mist probably isn't for you. In a way, it hearkens back to the days when 8-bit developers gave old ideas a new lick of paint by changing aliens to mythological monsters and space stations to the temples of Ancient Greece. The fantasy stuff is really just a skin, no more. It's only when you forget the trappings and switch to the game's optional twin-stick control method that everything truly falls into place.