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It was a Time of Myths. It was a Time of Legends. It was a Time of ever growing Chaos. The screams of the forsaken echoed throughout the Cathedral of Avalon. Creatures of unimaginable horror rose from their nightmares. Apocalypse was but a single moment away. She came with a vengeance, destroying all that stood in her path, knowing it would lead her to a final battle against Chaos himself. Her name is Carina, the Dark Angæl.

Dark Angæl is a side-scrolling action/adventure game, rich in both story and intensity. Featuring 360 degree aiming, more than two dozen interconnected single player levels, and eight multiplayer deathmatch arenas, Dark Angæl brings an epic saga to the genre of fast-action platform games...

  • 27 interconnected single-player levels.
  • 8 multiplayer deathmatch levels.
  • Windows 95 Native [DirectX 3.0]
  • 3D rendered characters and hand painted backgrounds.
  • SVGA 640x480 video mode for high-resolution gameplay.
  • A menagerie of enemies to battle, each with unique skills and AI.
  • Advanced character animation allowing Carina to jump, duck, climb, flip and more.
  • A vast interconnected world scattered with hundreds of hidden areas and multiple paths.
  • 3D rendered characters incorporating thousands of frames of animation and unique AI.
  • Up to 8 player multiplayer capability over the Internet or LAN (IPX or TCP/IP).
  • A full CD music soundtrack, character dialogue and sound effects.
  • An arsenal of weapons, superpowers and powerups each with unique strategic advantages.
  • Greater player control through 360 degree mouse weapon targeting and a host of acrobatic moves
~ from the archived Vicarious Visions website

If you're a frequent follower of this site, you may have played Synnergist which I reviewed a couple of months ago. This was the first game from young upstarts Vicarious Visions (now known as Blizzard Albany) released through 21st Century Entertainments publishing brand. With their next game, Dark Angael, the ambitious company would handle the publishing themselves, but unless you were French you wouldn't find it on store shelves. You needed to contact them directly though their website if you really wanted it.

Released in September of 1997, the estimated budget of the game was around $250,000. That's huge numbers for an upstart company whose CEO was barely out of his teens. To be fair, you can see where the money went. The visuals use pre-rendered Silicon Graphics in a similar way to Donkey Kong Country, and the sprawling inter-linked environments must've taken some undertaking. An uncommonly large chunk of the game was released as shareware earlier on in the year earned it a buzz beyond its mediocre review scores that news of its existence even reached my ears.

Corina will blurt out whatever she's thinking. If you're lucky, it might be a clue (left).
I would've had no idea you could destroy the floor without it (right).

The game stars the big-bosomed Carina, aka the Dark Angael, who is the only defence against the evil machinations of Azrael and his legion of hell spawn. The end is nigh, but that won't stop her from searching for the five super powers; Mutator, Psychic Attack, Reflection, Energy Wave and a Teleport Coin. Whether turning health pick ups into much needed ammo or simply causing maximum damage, they are all very useful and at times needed in order to succeed. In many ways, it's very much like a Metroidvania before such a term existed with explorable areas with multiple pathways and oodles of backtracking. It was a design ethos I wasn't expecting going in, thinking it to be more of a bombastic, explosion-heavy action-fest. I was pleasantly surprised.

The open platforming areas are admittedly hit and miss. You have the run of some handsome stages, but there is a touch of amateurness in terms of the design. Important pieces of information are held back leaving you scratching your head more often than not. Too many minutes are spend backtracking to the very beginning searching for the way forward, only to find that a wall blocking you was actually fake; you could walk right through it without batting an eyelid.

Most doorways can be entered by pressing the Down arrow key (left).
It could lead to an important area or a room stocked with pick-ups such as this crypt (right).

The puzzle design is similarly needlessly obtuse. Early on in the game, you'll find an underground spring beneath a crypt with a comment about requiring a vessel to take some. That vessel is none other than a magical chalice found by destroying the floor beneath a church altar. I only found this by accident, but you've now got a cup of holy water with no reason why you have it. Carina herself often chimes in with some decently-acted voice work, but she'll often describe the obstacle in front of you without giving much clues beyond that. With a little more work in the design phase, the game as a whole could've been more structured and satisfying but as it stands, these puzzles left me pulling my hair out more often than the hoards of demons around every corner.

The combat recalls another game I've also reviewed on this site; Abuse. You aim your gun with the mouse while Corina herself moves with the arrow keys. This means she can easily run away while shooting behind her. While Abuse is the better game, it is a mechanic that works well but it is underused in this game. Having more of a focus on puzzles and exploration, I would've liked this control scheme to be used in more inventive ways. It does try; the Teleportation Coin can be thrown over walls or through holes to instantly transport you to where it lands, but this is the only instance I can think of where the mouse is required outside of combat.

Make sure you select "Play Dark Angael Music CD" from this menu every time you launch the game (left).
Shooting will always be tied to the mouse, but everything else can easily be remapped in the Controls menu (right).

The game still works well on modern systems using dgVoodoo, but even after applying the official patch, there are a few niggled to the game, particularly in regards to the music. Originally, the game supported custom soundtracks, allowing you to insert any music CD to play along to (a feature that no longer functions through necessity). The original CD also included a separate score to highlight this, but for some reason the game defaults to this "Other Music CD" option every time you launch the game. This means speech - which is stored in the Redbook audio - will not work unless you switch back in the Options menu. It's needed too, as story beats can easily bee missed without it.

Overall, I kinda liked Dark Angael. It's by no means an amazing game with some awkward level designs and some unpolished moments, but it doesn't lack charm. Carina is a great protagonist with an impressive arsenal and some inventive if underused abilities. It got a bad rap upon its initial release, but there's more to this game than meets the eye.

To download the PC game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses dgVoodoo with CDAEmu to run on modern systems. A real or virtual CD drive may be required to play. Online multiplayer untested. Read the ChamberNotes.txt for more detailed information. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 139 Mb.  Install Size: 216 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ


Dark Angael is © Vicarious Visions
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me

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https://collectionchamber.blogspot.com/2015/03/abuse.html  https://collectionchamber.blogspot.com/p/hunter-hunted.html  https://collectionchamber.blogspot.com/2015/07/robocop-vs-terminator.html


  1. i remember this game from 1997 demo compilation disc along side "Captain Claw", "Postal", "Jedi Knight" and "Virtua Fighter 2". not a bad game, but a bit on the mediocre side.

  2. Aww man.....
    I was hoping for Jessica Alba. :(