Content Test 3

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Pryzm: The Dark Unicorn
Graphics: 2.5
Gameplay: 2
Sound: 2.5
Control: 3
Replay Value: 0
Rating: 2
Publisher: TDK Mediactive
Developer: Digital Illusions
Number Of Players: 1
Pryzm: Chapter One: The Dark Unicorn hereafter known as Pryzm, because Iím not supposed to substitute profanity for a gameís name, is an adventure game starring a troll and a unicorn. The game looks horrible, the voice work makes you pray that you were deaf, and the game is about as fun as pounding nails into your skull. Hopefully that whole ďChapter OneĒ thing in the title is just a joke and they wonít waste another $500 to create a sequel. You should probably stop reading here.

Itís not a typo in the first paragraph Ėseriously, a troll and a unicorn team up because the world is being taken over by plants that in turn take over the villagers turning them into monsters that are fond of killing. Pryzm is a unicorn that for some reason or another is the only one that can save the world, so she goes off to kill bad guys. For whatever reason, the trolls donít trust the unicorns Ė you know how the unicorns can be, so the troll has to ride on her back. This means she canít fly and apparently makes her controls pathetic as well, but thereís nothing you can do about it. To save the world youíve got to kill plants and then set the villagers free by killing them so they arenít monsters. Itís a horrible premise for a game, and itís a horrible game, so itís a match made in heaven.

Pryzm all comes together in one spectacularly bad package when you throw in the stunningly bad gameplay. The controls are arranged in an interesting manner, but they are extremely poor when actually applied to the game. The left analog stick moves your little horsy around, and the right stick lets your troll swing his magic stick thing around to kill bad guys. Each character can cast some uninteresting spells and Pryzm can do a charge attack that is for some reason is mapped to L2. All the controls are a moot point because once you get in combat you find yourself flailing about trying to find the bad guy and then repeating the same attacks over and over again.

The level structure and objectives that you must accomplish on your quest do nothing to help this game play any better. The goal of the game is to brin the sacred flowers that are now poisonous back to their original state by attacking the monsters that protect them and then shooting the flowers until they are back to normal. Lame platforming elements that are a challenge only because of the controls and camera donít help matters much either. Itís amazing that such boring and tedious objectives are the purpose of the entire game, but then again, after seeing everything else thatís gone so wrong here, itís not too shocking.

Pryzmís graphics are as boring and drab as anything seen on the PlayStation 2 to date. Granted, the levels are huge -- but huge, ugly levels are still ugly. Textures are blurry and repetitive, and thereís very little scenery to distinguish one area of a level from another. Killing an evil plant only raises a couple of little flowers out of the ground, making the level just as heinous as it was before you ďsavedĒ it. One canít help but wonder why youíve got to save such an ugly inhospitable place to start with.

The camera system is horrible, and it is made worse by the unwieldy control scheme, which will be touched upon later. Basically, the camera follows the not-so-dynamic duo around, swinging rapidly to stay behind if you make a quick turn. This often sends the camera behind walls, through walls, or some other position thatís not conducive to gameplay. Since the main method of killing the creatures is to run around them slashing at them, the camera ends up spinning around like itís caught in a tornado. Thereís also no way to look behind you to see the lame and quite stupid creatures chasing after you.

Other visual treats are: creatures that donít fly yet somehow levitate off the ground and get stuck in walls, pop-up, clipping, poor draw distances, FMV sequences that are poor in both visual appeal and content, and lava flows that are solid as the ground but are lava because someone slapped a lava texture on them. The only good thing Pryzmís got going for it are the lighting and particle effects when you use magic, but even they arenít that wonderful.

It doesnít get much better than the ďwittyĒ banter between your little troll and your unicorn. Theyíve got two lame insults that they hurl back and forth about the troll being sore from riding and Pryzm saying how heavy he is. Itís painful to hear these ďinsultsĒ the first time, much less 500 times before the game is over or you hurl yourself out a window.

The music has flashes where itís not bad, but then quickly repeats itself endlessly as you scramble for the mute button. Voice-acting achieves the same low standard as the rest of the game with what sounds like a couple programmers reading the script that their children got together to write.

The game is only made difficult because itís so hard to force yourself to keep playing the boring levels and same objectives over and over again. Thereís absolutely no replay value since youíre not likely to even want to touch again it to trade it in, much less play it again. Itís only $20, but youíd be hard pressed to spend $20 any more poorly if you just closed your eyes and picked a random game off the shelves.

I almost forgot, a short comic printed in the back of an instruction manual does not count as a free collectorís comic. Youíve got to be kidding me. Be afraid, be very afraid.

6/26/2004   Aaron Thomas