A point and click adventure dating back to the age of Aventuria, The Dark Eye Chains Of Satinav is part of The Dark Eye universe, a hugely popular RPG franchise from Deutschland from the cream of the adventuring crop: Daedalic Entertainment.
Hands up, I had a few reservations that the lore would go over my head, to begin with, knowing diddly squat about the series. Can this capture the beloved franchise’s essence, and would it be welcoming enough for newbies such as myself?
Daedalic have had a bit of a headstart as The Dark Eye Chains Of Satinav was launched on PC almost ten years ago, and now it’s on the PS5. The age does show a bit, resembling a 90s game on the surface, similar to the recent Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption, but without the humour.
The Dark Eye Chains Of Satinav PS5 Review
You play bird catcher Geron. When he’s introduced, his face is being dunked in pig swill by the local bully, intent on stealing his oak leaves – required as part of a contest where the winner will be honoured directly by the King.
Geron could do with the endorsement as everyone besides father figure, Gwinnling, and a local cheese wheel wench named Hilda, treat him like crap, believing him be a harbinger of misfortune. Coincidentally, he has Damien-like powers as he can destroy items from a short distance with his mind. Disappointingly, you can’t dispose of his tormenters by exploding their heads, à la Scanners.
The tribulations in The Dark Eye Chains Of Satinav continue when Gwinnling tasks Geron on a mission to capture a fairy, preventing the Seer (an enemy they believed to be dead) from playing the magic harp that will be the demise of all in the land. But soon reverses the sentiment and tells Geron to kill the fairy instead.
Leaving Andergast behind, Geron and the fairy, Nuri, search for a way to thwart the evil Seer by locating the Fairy Scholar. With each subsequent objective, the story deepens, as does the connection between the two leads.
The Dark Eye Chains Of Satinav PS5 version is relatively seamless in loading times and performance. Granted, a point and click is unlikely to make Astrobot and team sweat (they do live in the machine, you know), but occasionally you’ll walk off the screen by accident and back again – thankfully without loading screens.
A mouse is the best peripheral for the genre, but the controller works well. Moving Geron with the left stick, a verb wheel will automatically pop up when you get close to a point of interest. You can also scroll through items with the right stick or press R3 for some hints.
By default, there are three options on the verb wheel, represented by a button. Square will inspect an item, cross will talk to an NPC or perform an action, and with the triangle button, you can use whatever object is equipped.
As part of my routine, subtitles are on due to frequent interruptions, but with The Dark Eye Chains Of Satinav, there was a problem where the word ‘language’ appeared through every scene. It didn’t warrant a new game due to the progress made, but it occasionally ruined the artwork.
A Fairy Tale
Going back to the presentation of the game, it does feel like an old school adventure. The animation style skips a beat with dialogue scenes but only takes a few minutes to get used to. It’s a design choice, no doubt, as the characters are hand-painted and really well done.
Movement is swift though, and Geron isn’t your typical adventurer who pigeon steps from scene to scene, though trots like he needs a wee. As for the scenery in The Dark Eye Chains Of Satinav… wow. They tease on the fantasy side of things without feeling cliche or too much of a grand scale, excluding a slightly lucid fairy segment.
Between scenes will be an animatic as if presented on wethered paper, telling the story thus far. Each one felt like being offered another cookie as a reward for solving a puzzle and further exploring the characters in The Dark Eye universe. It was undoubtedly a highlight.
The voice talent is also very good. Bordering on caricatures at times, they were still well suited. Geron and Nuri were standouts, and I could see a film adaptation with Ben Wishaw and Gemma Arterton at the helm. The Fairy Scholar also looks like David Bowie. It could have done without the Wilhelm screams, however.
The Dark Eye Chains Of Satinav is a slow burner: a good indication for a point and click adventure. It may be a bit niche for PS5 gamers, though. I struggled with the fairy section in the game, and if the rest of the puzzles were as illogical, it would be an even smaller audience.
It’s also one of those rare point and clicks that don’t break the fourth wall, referencing other titles. While it has a basic hint system, I’d suggest it’s probably going to appeal more to fans of the genre than newcomers due to the later challenges.
You don’t have to know anything about The Dark Eye universe to enjoy the adventure here. I was sold on the characters and lore and looking forward to seeing where it goes with The Dark Eye: Memoria. A PS5 review is currently in the making.
The Dark Eye Chains Of Satinav PS5 Review Summary
It’s been a bit tricky to keep up the pace on this one as The Dark Eye Chains Of Satinav is a thoughtful game that requires patience and problem-solving. Don’t expect anything based on the LucasArts model, as this takes itself quite seriously and could potentially push a few buttons when it comes to thinking outside the box.