With the sad news that developer Level-5 is leaving North America and my hopes for Dark Cloud 3 dashed, I wanted to take a look back at Dark Cloud. Sharing my love and experience with this game, I highly recommend it to fans looking for a classic RPG, which was my favorite PS2 game. Despite some heartbreak during my playthrough of it.
What is Dark Cloud?
If you haven’t heard of Dark Cloud, I’ve seen it compared to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It truly stands on its own for me and I actually prefer it to any Legend of Zelda game I have played (which admittedly hasn’t been many). Dark Cloud is a third-person action RPG in which the player controls multiple characters obtained slowly throughout the story. You traverse through a variety of towns, which each have their own feel and personality to them, and fight through procedurally-generated dungeons.
Whenever you enter a new town, it is completely barren due to the events of the story. Your mission is to collect “Atla,” which can contain anything from houses to people to objects, and arrange it however you’d like in the initial barren wasteland of each town. It is so satisfying to build each town back up, completing buildings and unlocking cutscenes with new characters in each town. The game has a lot of familiar aspects, but when everything is put all together, it really feels like an experience chock full of fun.
My Favorite Playstation 2 Game
I attribute my love of games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne to Dark Cloud. This game served as my initiation to the RPG genre, one of the earliest PlayStation 2 games I remember diving into. As a kid, I was terrible at this game (as with most games), but I didn’t care. Between hacking and slashing my way through enemies and collecting Atla (my first real rush as a gamer to the aspect of collecting 100% of the items), I was having a blast.
I made it to the boss at the end of the Wise Owl Forest before giving up on this game as a kid, defeated. A few years later, I returned, triumphantly completing the Wise Owl Forest, making it all the way to Minotaur Joe in the Moon Sea. Then I ran into a devastating development. I completed the Sun Giant, which is needed to unlock the next area, and the event it was supposed to trigger never happened. According to the Internet at the time, I had run into a game-breaking glitch that made it impossible for me to progress further with the game without starting all over. Forty-plus hours wasted. I was crushed.
Until they decided to bring Dark Cloud to the PS4! I saw it on sale one day, downloaded it, and never looked back, finally completing the game. It also seemed fitting that the first RPG I can remember playing would be the first game I ever got 100% of the achievements for on the PS4. It is by no means a perfect game, but my nostalgia factor runs high with this one. For me, it’s truly a classic RPG experience that I don’t think any RPG fans should miss out on.
Dark Chronicle/Dark Cloud 2
I do have more Dark Cloud to look forward to in the form of its spiritual sequel, Dark Chronicle (called Dark Cloud 2 in North America), which I have never played but bought alongside Dark Cloud when it was on sale in the PlayStation Store. It has won a ton of awards, including GameSpot’s “Best PlayStation 2 Game” (2003) and the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences’ “Console Role Playing Game of the Year” (2003). So, it sounds like I still have more fun ahead of me.
Did you play Dark Cloud? Do you remember it as fondly as me? Did the game-breaking bugs nearly break you as they almost did to me? Share your experiences in the comments below.
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