Review – Golden Sun: Dark Dawn [DS]

Posted: March 8, 2012 in DS, Reviews

Weyard, the land that the Golden Sun series is set in, has never had it easy. The building blocks of reality called Alchemy are made up of the four elements: Earth, Water, Fire and Wind. This power was deemed too great a threat to the people of Weyard and as such was sealed away. This however turned out to be even worse as the land started to decay as Alchemy was the source of the world’s vitality…

Following the conclusion of the first two games, Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age, Alchemy was released back into the world, culminating in an event known as the Golden Sun. The release of this power saved the land but at a price of shattering the world and changing the landscape forever, creating new countries and demolishing others. But a new threat has arisen in the form of Psynergy Vortexes which are sucking the Psynergy from power-based adepts and more importantly, from the land itself which is slowly draining the life out of the world. Your mission is to find the truth behind these vortexes and stop them from forming again.

You control Matthew, son of Isaac and leader of the heroes in Golden Sun, and like his father is an accomplished earth Adept. Your best friends are also children of the heroes of Weyard; Tyrell, son of Garet the fire Adept, and Karis, daughter of wind Adept Ivan. These three make up your starting party and many more join later on, giving you the opportunity to create your own line-up of four characters for battles.

A lengthy introduction fills you in on the events of the previous games and to help fill in any cracks of knowledge during conversations with other characters. Certain words (such as people and place names, along with some technical terms) are highlighted and can be explained in further detail in the encyclopedia which appears on the top screen. This will prove most useful to newcomers who may not understand certain concepts when mentioned in game, which haven’t been explained previously. It can however get a bit overwhelming at times when you are given too many random place and people names, half of which may not yet be relevant to your current situation at that moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The storyline twists and turns between themes. To begin with you are charged with finding a Roc Feather to fix a Soarwing (hang glider) and soon find yourself encountering a malignant force sucking the life out of the world and in the process find yourself drawn into a battle between two warring nations whilst exploring dark forests, ancient ruins and scaling cliffs.

Golden Sun: Dark Dawn can be controlled with either the touch screen or the standard D-pad controls. Whilst you may be more tempted to use the fluidity of the touch screen there will be occasions where you’ll find things more convenient to use the old fashioned method. Such as needing a bit more precision when puzzle solving or during long conversations simply pressing A will save your wrist from aching due to prolonged tapping. As the touch screen has all the features the top screen is left with little use except for maps and character status, which is disappointing as more details could have been added such as objectives and Djinn status so that you could view them without having to go into the menu. This eventually proves to be a bit of a chore as much scrolling is needed to find what you’re after, even with the stylus giving you a sliding action.

Along with the standard RPG method of travelling from town to town battling various monsters for experience to level up your characters, every location has at least a puzzle or two to solve. The majority of these puzzles take the form of pushing and pulling objects with some even testing the old grey matter. The inclusion of having to use various Psynergy to get results, such as freezing water to create pillars to stand on or making plants grow to give you easy passage to above ledges, give each location less of a repetitive feel. To save time the shoulder buttons can be assigned as shortcuts to certain Psynergy that you know you will be using more than once in a dungeon, which will more than likely be some form of ancient ruins as it seems there are quite a few.

Another distinctive characteristic of the Golden Sun series which makes a welcome return are the capture and usage of Djinn, magical beings created by Alchemy and representative of the four elements: Venus (Earth), Mars (Fire), Jupiter (Wind) and Mercury (Water). These little creatures can be found in towns and dungeons as well as in the field. Many will come quietly but some may get agitated and will need defeating before offering their services to you. Djinn can be assigned to any character which can affect their class and stat levels for better or worse and can be mixed up between characters so each character can have a Djinn of each element assigned to them, offering each player the opportunity to create a unique line up. Each Djinn possesses a different ability. Some can unleash an attack in battle, increase your attack/defence and even heal your party. Once an ability has been used the Djinn is put into “standby mode” where it can be used to summon powerful dual-screen filling creatures with devastating attacks. Some summons will need more than one Djinn and maybe more than one element before it can be called upon. Perfectionists will find themselves returning to locations where Djinn are hiding but were previously unobtainable due to lacking the necessary spell or item.

The graphical style has been upgraded to vibrant cel-shaded 3D, which looks good but lacks the charm and unique looking graphical style the previous two games used. Thankfully the music hasn’t changed and retains a smooth melody wherever you travel, EG: appropriately used location sounds before kicking into a fast beat when you’re attacked.

Sadly the game is just too easy, the enemies aren’t that powerful and it doesn’t help having powerful healing spells and healing Djinn available so early in the game. By the time you’ve beaten the previous dungeon and travelled to the next town you’ll have more than enough money to upgrade your weapons and armour before moving on. There are many items to collect on your quest but a mass acquisition is hampered by an item limit on each character. However, many pointless items such as sleep bombs can be sold for a profit as they simply aren’t needed, a battle can be ended much quicker by just attacking and summoning.

As a package it’s a solid RPG which is sadly let down by a troublesome menu interface and disappointingly easy battles. Regardless fans of the series will love this game and Golden Sun: Dark Dawn can be a perfect introduction for new gamers to the RPG genre.

Gameplay 4/5
Playability 4/5
Sound 4/5
Graphics 4/5
Lifespan 3/5

Pr0’s
A] Good soundtrack
B] Imaginative puzzles
C] Customizable line up
D] Colourful graphics

Cons
A] Too easy
B] Cumbersome menu interface

 

TOTAL

8/10

 

 

 

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