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UAT

 PLATFORM: PLAYSTATION 2
DEMANDING

ya is a typically curious and strong-willed teenager whose brother finds a magic amulet hidden in a secret room under their staircase. He and Kya are sucked into another dimension and separated. Her journey starts in Nativ City, a generally unpopulated square that was once a thriving area of commerce, where you are told that Wolfen are mutated Nativs working for Brazul, the token maniacal overlord.

From this point, you have to start completing quests for the Nativ leaders still left in their somewhat cuter forms. In exchange, they will help you find your brother and return to your world. By defeating Wolfen and freeing them from their magical spell, they turn into Nativs who set up new shops in Nativ City. This is how Kya will learn new combat abilities, upgrade her items, and participate in a handful of multiplayer beat-the-score-style minigames.

Dark Lineage is trying to do a lot of things in a very short period of time. The game has you battling against Wolfen that learn to block any of the 30-plus combo moves you prefer, sliding down organic halfpipes, freefalling along air currents, riding various animals (including enemies), and using extensive stealth and puzzle-solving skills. Some of these tasks are executed better than others.

All of the obstacles Kya will face in her journey can be handled in two different ways: the smart way and the fighting way. In the beginning, kicking and punching can get you pretty far. The combat mode is entered when an enemy spots you, and Kya has a basketful of high-flying kung fu-inspired skills at her disposal. By the end of the game, you’ll be flipping around like a juiced-up Bruce Lee and enjoying the computer-determined slow-motion sequences, designed to highlight your most "cinematic" moves.

Despite a nicely robust combat setup, Kya must learn to stealthily solve puzzles – as the Wolfen will become smarter, more numerous, and better armed. These puzzle sequences are ingenious, well crafted, and yet don’t require a ridiculous amount of trial-and-error deaths.

Dark Lineage is certainly an ambitious project to say the least, and definitely not without its charms. The use of air currents is fresh and interesting, but the sliding levels could have offered a little more. The biggest reason that I’m not ga-ga about this game is that I don’t feel like I know Kya as a character. Because of that limitation, your desire to spend some serious time in her company isn’t as high as, say, Voodoo Vince – who makes up for more predictable gameplay with loads of personality.   



MATT HELGESON   7.5

Eden Studios came to play. It’s obvious that the company wants to compete in the platforming big leagues. To this end, it’s created Kya, an ambitious but ultimately flawed adventure that shoots for the stars and ends up stalling out in the middle reaches of the video game atmosphere. There are many things I liked about Kya: the evolving combat system, the attempt to incorporate stealth gameplay into the mix, the cool skydiving sequences, and the ingenious puzzles. However, I too often found myself simply bored. This is mostly due to the fact that the basic character movement is so slow and plodding. Kya is awkward to control, which makes any platforming sequence seem like a chore instead of a pleasure, especially when you figure in the sub-par camera. Perhaps a good plot would have made up for it, but the characters and cutscenes are incredibly banal. Yet another platformer that I admired much more than I enjoyed.

7.5
CONCEPT:
Put your typical stubborn teenager in a fantasyland that she must save
GRAPHICS:
Creative and dynamic level design and general appearance
SOUND:
Dramatic orchestral scores pop up in moments of high stress
PLAYABILITY:
The camera (like most games of this type) is a problem, maybe even more so than most 3D action games
ENTERTAINMENT:
I wanted more personality from Kya and the Nativs, but the puzzles are well-done
REPLAY:
Moderate
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