This is Darklight Conflict. The most beautifully rendered, fully-realised space combat sim ever created.

You have been chosen. From the elite of Earth's pilots. Transported across space to fight for an alien race. Genetically-enhanced, you become one with your starship.

But you won't have time to enjoy the view. Not while wave after wave of enemy ships assault you, mission after mission. And all that separates you from imminent death? Speed and skill.

Simply the most spectacular shoot-em-up in the universe.
  • Spectacular technology and 'Softlight' lighting effects dramatically enhance every encounter with the enemy, making this the best looking shoot-em-up ever.
  • Up to 6 players can enjoy the ultimate in multiplayer combat via an IPX compatible network, on specifically designed multiplayer missions.
  • Totally believable 3D SVGA space scopes and accurate physics modelling make piloting Darklight's ships the nearest you can come to real space combat.
  • Arcade-style gameplay with a fast, responsive and easy-to-master interface.
  • 50 missions within the adventure featuring a variety of ever more hazardous objectives.
  • Choose from 5 sleek and deadly ships.
~from the back of the box

Developed by Rage Software for release in 1997 Darklight Conflict is a space combat flight sim that aims to be a bit more arcadey and accessible than its contemporaries. It doesn't always succeed at that goal.

The plotline is fairly simple. Playing as a hotshot fighter pilot, you've been kidnapped from Earth by an alien race called Reptons to fight in their intergalactic war. They've altered your DNA so that you can be "genetically altered to fly Repton fighters, humans bonded with their starships like lovers." Ew.

Graphically, it's perhaps one of the best looking of such games from the era. Ships have a bulky weight to them and there's always a splash of colour or particle effects somewhere on-screen to break up the black void of outer space. The missions themselves are fairly short, mostly consisting of destroying all enemies, protecting an ally or finding a particular location.

In some areas, there are Hyperspace portals that take you to different areas. The screen changes to a third-person perspective as you travel through something like the stargate sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey. More often than not, these are little more than loading screens but on occasion, they become a bit of a mini-game. Your energy can be drained or restored through contact with matter  (orange dots) or anti-matter (blue dots) respectively.

Your HUD has a lot of useful information cluttering the screen. There are three arrows on the left which, from top to bottom, details your primary mission objective (green), your nearest enemy (yellow) and your nearest ally (purple). When you have them in sight, a thin line will extend and point to them. There is also a scanner just underneath which displays the position of everything in the playfield.

The other side is your readouts, such as your energy, speed and selected weapons. There is also a stress readout. Because you and the ship are essentially the same entity, too much stress can cause you to explode. Whenever you hold to shoot, you will raise a shield that lessens the impact, but your energy will drain when you do so. If you can find a safe space to pause and take a breather, you can reduce your stress. Basically, it's another form of health but with a different name.

The result of all of these mechanics is that Darklight Conflict is not as easy and accessible as it perhaps wants to be. They couldn't get over the disorientating dogfights that still plague the genre. As a result, it's a space sim that's a little too hard for novices of the genre and a bit too mechanically simple (not to mention light on story) for fans of Wing Commander of TIE Fighter. Above average.

To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses the DOSBox Daum build of DOSBox 0.74 to bring the game to modern systems.  To play the game without the scanline fix, launch 'Run-NoFix.bat' from the install directory. Manual and Reference Card included. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 248 Mb.  Install Size: 322 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ


Darklight Conflict is © Rage Software
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me

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1 comment:

  1. This is probably the most beautiful space game that does not use any acceleration. The technology behind is absolutely amazing. Pity that it forces you through so many boring missions.