The ‘Twilight’ books take a lot of heat for allegedly watering down the ancient legend of the vampire. Whereas the Nosferatu was once feared as a pale-skinned predator that lurked in the shadows and snatched up maidens as easily as a centipede nabs a beetle, today’s vampire is a gentler, shinier creature. Dark Legends, an iOS MMORPG, opts for lore that’s more akin to the gangly, modern vampire, but here’s the thing: the game’s story is still interesting, and it’s still fun to play through.
That’s not a compliment given to Stephenie Meyer’s infamous series, mind you. Spacetime Studios doesn’t do anything radically different with the vampire formula that hasn’t been done in an Anne Rice novel, but Dark Legends will keep you engaged long enough for quick bursts of gameplay.
Incidentally, Dark Legends is well-suited for bite-sized portions of gameplay. It’s a freemium MMORPG, which means you’re in for a lot of downtime. The game’s story takes you (and your vampire avatar) across several campaigns on a quest to find out who murdered your mentor. Along the way, you find yourself mixed up in a plot that involves vampire hunters, and a virus that turns humans into (what else?) zombies.
“Wanna come to my MCR-themed birthday party?”
Gameplay in Dark Legends consists mostly of passive missions and active battles, both of which are scattered around each campaign map. Passive missions require a mere tap to complete, after which you wait for a certain amount of time to tick down. When that’s done, you gain a bit of experience, some gold, and another piece of the story. Completing each passive mission requires a portion of your energy, and you do little except wait for time to pass. It feels like a bit of a rip-off, frankly, especially since later missions take a pretty big bite out of your energy.
Fortunately, Dark Legends also allows for a whole lot of bloody slaughter in its active battle scenes, which is where the game really shines. You can equip your vampire avatar with a variety of blades; some are loot drops, and others can be bought at the in-game store (don’t worry, you won’t forget. The game reminds you constantly that you can make in-app purchases). Regardless of your weapon of choice, your objective is always clear: carve up the monsters roaming the streets, and the boss that controls them.
Blood on the carpet. Tsk. Someone get the Tide.
Attacking is as simple as mashing your sword button, though you have several skills at your disposal, too. If you chain several kills, you’re able to leap on a nearby baddie and feed on their jugular, which restores your health and gives you a speed buff. That’s good eatin’.
You can choose to go on an attack mission solo, or you can join some other random vampires. Alternatively, you and your friends can mount an assault. Pretty standard stuff for an MMORPG, but still a lot of fun once the red stuff really starts flying. If you feel like antagonizing somebody, you can engage in a simple but functional capture-the-flag style PVP.
Dark Legends won’t knock your socks off, but for a free MMORPG, it’s fun to play and it’s adequately paced. The servers are solid, too: there are few problems with lag or disconnections. The battlegrounds you visit are a bit repetitive, and some variety in the passive missions would be very welcome, but Spacetime Studios has a solid foundation to build on. With its bloody battles and subtle tongue-in-cheek humor, Dark Legends is a small step towards the overall redemption of vampire-kind. Every little bit helps.