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Harbinger

Developer: Silverback Entertainment | Publisher: DreamCatcher
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 02/26/03 | Genre: Action/RPG

Every once and awhile, a game comes along seeking to shake things up by introducing a semi-new ingredient to a well-known recipe. DreamCatcher Interactive tries to take a watered-down Diablo into space with Harbinger. This sci-fi RPG is entertaining, but stacked up against the likes of the powerful Diablo series and Neverwinter Nights, it may just sadly slip unnoticed.

"If ignorance is bliss" is the opening and seemingly founding statement of the game. Gradually you'll discover that you're on some titanic ship populated mostly with refugees and outcasts who are at the mercy of someone known only as "the overlord". Amidst some random battle between species on the ship, there's you just trying to survive.

The characters available are equally cloaked in a confusion that never really establishes itself as interesting or worth figuring out. Human, gladiator, and culibine are your meager choices with no real "special" attributes or creatable features. Each does have unique abilities (culibine has sci-fi like magical abilities; the gladiator can use deployable bots), but other than they are all the same.

Each has both melee and range attack and can only be equipped with character-specific armory and weaponry. None of these come into serious gameplay, as fighting boils down to run-and-shoot tactics. You can outrun every enemy and dodge their predictable attacks. Yes, these features can be found in most other games of its class, but unfortunately Harbinger lacks strong features to balance this issue.

Graphically, Harbinger isn't bad. It is average with some animation and shadowing. Levels are repetitiously detailed. Music fits the spacey atmosphere and plays continuously in the back ground.

Harbinger never draws players into the characters' story and life, making continual play a struggle. The enjoyment of RPGs is character development and the discovery of new items and stuff, but because characters are severely limited by what they can and cannot use, finding items and developing your character loses its fun.

Stories and events for each character to sway from time to time, but, overall, stick closely to a linear path, cutting replayability way down. With no multiplayer aspect or random mapping feature, it is difficult to recommend Harbinger even with its $30 price tag.

Interestingly though, setting all this aside, simplicity has its addictability. Simply running around killing things while leveling up and accomplishing tasks brings back memories of the original Diablo. Some players don't like the complexity of character development and endless itemizing. So if you are interested in a light game of shallow Diablo, mixed with a slight hint of Gauntlet, blended into a sci-fi sauce, then Harbinger may be a nice dish for you.

By Peter Humpton - 04/03/03
ESRB Details: Blood, Use of Drugs, Violence
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Screenshots for Harbinger

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