Dark Earth is a post-apocalyptic action-adventure game for PC, developed by Kalisto Entertainment and published by MicroProse. The game released in 1997, and spawned its own tabletop RPG circa 2003 (though the rpg is French only).
The game is a third-person fixed camera action-adventure game featuring polygonal characters over pre-rendered environments (think Alone in the Dark, Resident Evil, or Bio Forge) with an emphasis on melee combat.
The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic world caused by meteorites hiting the earth, destroying major cities and causing a huge cloud of dust and ashes to clog most of the sky. This prevents sunlight from reaching the ground, save for a couple of sacred spots, called stalites, where the last survivors of the human race, the walkers, built huge cities in the glory of the Sun God.
The game is se in of those stalies, Sparta, and follows Arkhan, a guardian of fire. One day during the job, he gets infected with a dark disease after preventing the assassination of the great priestess Lori. The disease's most obvious effect is Arkhan's slow tranformation into a monster of darkness. It's then up to him to uncover to truth behind the priestess' assassination and find a cure.
The game provides examples of:
- After the End: The game takes place after meteorites destroyed the Earth's major cities, causing a cloud of dust obscuring sunlight.
- Bittersweet Ending: Arkhan destroys Thanandar and banishes the darkness, ultimately saving the day. However, his father, best friend, all his comrades and leaders, and possibly his girlfriend and others are dead. It's ambiguous whether the Runkas, the friendly aliens who cure Arkhan, resurrect the other characters.
- Breakable Weapons: Arkhan will find a lot of melee weapons of different shapes and sizes, he'll need them as they can break from overuse in battle.
- Clarke's Third Law: As a result of years following the apocalypse, many aspects of the world are misinterpeted, such as sunlight being considered a blessing of the Sun God.
- Cursed with Awesome: Even though the dark disease disfigured Arkham, it still made him stronger and definitely more intimidating as the disease progresses.
- Cyber Punk: Dark Earth is set Twenty Minutes In The Future (the disaster happen on 2054). As such the world was a cyberpunk dystopia (down to mohawked, bionic 'roid boys in the opening) before the meteors hit.
- The Dark Side: If Arkhan lets the dark disease progress too much, he will become more monstrous, gaining one or two feet in height and a decent share of muscle mass.
- Death World: What the Earth has become, the only safe places are the Stallites which have protection from their Runka presence. Bad enough that there's tremendous ecological damage and near-Ice Age conditions, it gets worse as creatures of darkness emerge. Dark Earth is almost like the early stages of The Night Land
- Eldritch Abomination: What the meteor actually was, it was a being of darkness that can corrupt and consume life from different worlds. The presence of the Runkas kept it from invading, until they hibernated too long.
- Future Imperfect: Compact discs over the years have become misinterpreted as mirrors from Before, due to the reflective side and lack of computers.
- Friendly Neighborhood Gangster: Armal Sadak leads a group of scavengers, which his organization managed to amass enough wealth and relics for clout to allow an unofficial autonomy over Lower City from the rulers and the Guardians. His relations with Sun Seers were strong to the point that he is willing to inform Arkhan about Konkalites, who instigated the attack on them at the start of the game.
- Guns Are Worthless: Averted. "Thunderbolts" are the pre-disaster guns and even the smallest "Thunderbolt" you get can One-Hit Kill many enemies. Heck the crude spitrods that are made now, can pack a significant punch.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Or rather exotic-dancer for Delia as she performing dances with her "attire", who is generally friendly to Arkham—so long as she was provided with a mirror (actually a CD ROM)—and her boss Maor.
- Jekyll & Hyde: The player can shift light to dark behavior by pressing Tab. This makes Arkhan go from a Nice Guy to complete Jerkass.
- Jerkass: When in dark mode, Arkham can be quite aggressive when he speaking to other characters ("Hi wheely" when talking to a guy in a wheelchair or "You look pretty stupid in that cage" when speaking to a prisoner), this can be used to intimidate characters if they refuse to cooperate.
- Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: Guns still exist in this world, but they are rare and so are the ammo. If the player is in a pinch, or just for the heck of it, he can shoot the enemies who almost always have melee weapons.
- Non-Standard Game Over: If you kill a key NPC required to go through the story, you will be assassinated as soon as you leave the area.
- Puzzle Boss: The final boss can't be killed BY YOU. However your weapons can slow him down, the more powerful the weapon the greater the boss's delay. So you must shoot it once with a flamethrower (you only get one chance with the flamethrower as it's too clumsy for a second shot) and then you'll need to use the best "Thunderbolts" you have to keep it from catching up to you. Make it to the Runka and you win.
- Stripper Iffic: Justified Trope for Delia◊ as she is an exotic dancer in the underbelly of the city.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: If the player wants to, you can kill any non-key NPC that isn't required to progress the main quest.
- Videogame Flamethrowers Suck: Averted, the most powerful weapon in the game is a flamethrower. Though it's overkill if you use it on anything other than the boss.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Arkham's girlfriend Kalhi just disappears towards the end of the game. The last you see of her, she's quarreling with another survivor over some ammo he owes her. Afterwards, she stops hanging out at Danrys' place, and Danrys is later killed by dark creatures.
- The events of the endgame unfold slightly differently based on your actions. It's possible to find Kalhi mourning over Danrys' corpse; she'll initially want to run off and avenge him, but Arkham will convince her to stay put and be safe.
- Wretched Hive: Sparta has a deplored area called Lower City where scavengers and other criminals hang out. However, the relationship between the higher-ups of the city and the experienced scavengers had been amicable due to the point that the Guardians generally left the scavengers to their own businesses alone as their scavenging in the Darklands tend not to be interfering with law and order.