Developed and produced by Snail GamesStudio Wildcard’s parent company, you know, the guys behind Ark: Survival Evolved whom have had nothing to do with Ark’s development. Yet, Dark and Light is built off the same foundations as Ark, it uses the same engine and many of Ark’s game systems as well as eating, drinking and stamina management, but that’s where the similarity ends.

Dark and Light is played in third-person and draws more influence from MMO’s than your typical craft survival game. It features multiple races, factions and trading, the usual RPG fare. Using the same building system as Ark, one where players gather resources then build them into various pieces – like floors, walls, roofing and giant dragon effigies (just me?) – and create more complex structures by snapping them together. Building materials from straw to iron for example create structures that are different visually and in durability.

So the background story sounds like the typical RPG, the Elves, Dwarves and Humans are forced to flee their destroyed home world, Gaia, to a new home on Archos. However, Archos is a touch windy, “dominated by powerful elemental forces” they claim. Not only is this new planet dangerous but nasty gits leftover from the destruction of Gaia are raiding Archos, hellbent on destroying this new world as well. Plot or narrative is secondary to gameplay, which is typical of this genre – but the premise is well supported by various gameplay events such as undead invasions.

Dark and Light has a distinct fantasy theme, goblins and unicorns for example, and a taming system similar to Ark’s. Grab some kibble for a quick and easy tame or wear them out by binding them with rope-arrows instead of tranquilizing them. Dark and Light is much less of a grind than Ark, with its faster taming, lower resource costs and diversity of combat. I found less strain on my attention or drive to play than I did early on in Ark.

Magic is impressively diverse, elemental magics, shape shifting, telekinesis, being able to turn the shower on without getting your arm wet (not really, nobody is worthy of that power)… there’s even a spell that will make a holographic world map appear so you can see where you or your mates are. Safe to say, loads of options. It created a need to unlock combat oriented skills rather than just crafting/construction.

As it is in most games – levelling up is important and anyone who’s touched an Elder Scrolls game will grasp the skill trees easily. You cannot just unlock everything without meeting the criteria, you have to perform certain actions. Sadly, you can eventually unlock everything. I have never found the ‘Master of Everything’ a good idea in games which are designed around cooperation. Like the MMO trinity if you will – the healer, the shield and the damage, contributing something different to the group.

Graphically speaking, Dark and Light is nothing to write home about, at least not yet anyway. But as mentioned earlier it is a work in progress and things are expected to change and improve, but right now it’s a familiar look, á la Ark.

Dark and Light suffers with a clunky hit-box for attacking and can often infuriate when you’ve clearly hit your target multiple time without effect and I’d recommend PvE servers for anyone starting out, as just like in Ark and Conan Exiles – PvP servers are somewhat toxic and brutal.

It’s got promise, and there’s plenty enough to do right now. But it’s still an early access title, there’s a fair share of bugs and issues, one of which causes a nasty crash to desktop but constant updates are addressing everything, but let’s not forget Ark’s controversial pricing change upon release and also launching the Scorched Earth expansion pre release. Yes, an expansion for an unfinished game, you read right. All I’m saying is it’s better to be informed of Ark’s history.

Written by Michael Jones.

(Disclaimer: CONQUEST received a preview copy of Dark and Light, however this does not in any way affect the scoring of a game or our thoughts on the game itself. We believe in total honesty and being transparent with you.)

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