The State of Blade Runner Enhanced Edition in 2023

I’ve seen things you really wouldn’t believe…

In June 2022 Nightdive Studios, a videogame developer known for publishing remasters and ports of classic PC games such as System Shock, Doom 64, and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, released an Enhanced Edition of the classic Westwood adventure game Blade Runner to disastrous results.

It’s been suggested by some that the game’s release date was set to coincide with the 40th anniversary release date of the 1982 classic – and that the game was not ready for release by that point in time. Despite some well-received trailers depicting upscaled cutscenes and full compatibility with modern operating systems, what players received in June 2022 fell quite short of expectations.

Lacking access to the game’s source code, Nightdive Studios utilised a remastering process that was designed to remove compression artefacts from the game’s pixels and textures, but instead resulted in numerous details being removed or looking smeared – be it posters hung on walls, carpets, or even the city’s perpetual rainfall. A further outcry was had over a highly simplified UI that removed the game’s original KIA interface.

Runciter’s Animals: Original Edition
Runciter’s Animals: Enhanced Edition

A few days after the game hit digital storefronts, Nightdive Studios organised to have the original version of the game included alongside the enhanced edition for free, with the original being playable through the use of a SCUMMVM DOS shell.

But by then, the harm had already been done, with thousands of players requesting reimbursements across both Steam and Good Old Games (GOG). To date, the enhanced edition has sold an estimated 5,700 units and earned the studio nearly $45,000 in revenue, no doubt far less than initially hoped.

Runciter’s Animals: Original
Runciter’s Animals: Enhanced

In the months that followed, Nightdive Studios knuckled down and produced several patches, which resolved numerous bugs and issues flagged by players. Even the most recent patch, Update 1.2.1075, released on 11 February 2023, which introduced many significant quality of life updates, has not been enough to fix the game.

In part, this is due to the limitations of what can be done when a studio lacks access to a game’s source code, and in part due to the “voxel plus” technology utilised by Westwood Studios back in 1997. In theory, a reshade patch could tweak the contrast and vibrancy levels, but barring a full-blown remake of the original game, there’s simply no getting around the limitations of the game’s engine.

Nightdive Studios has managed to earn back some good will over the course of the last year through its patches and the free inclusion of the original, unenhanced game, alongside visually compelling previews for their upcoming System Shock remake.

But one can’t help but wonder if the woes they experienced following last year’s debacle is what led to the current Atari acquisition, which, as stated by Yahoo Finance, will involve “an initial consideration of US$10 million,” with “an earn-out of up to US$10 million, payable in cash over the next three years based on the future performance of Nightdive”.

Blade Runner Enhanced Edition is currently available on Steam for AU$14.50 and GOG for AU$7.29.

Diablo: Project Belzebub

This is where it all began.

Stay awhile and listen…

Diablo. Released in January 1997, this game kicked off a new style of genre: the action role-playing game (ARPG). Millions and millions of lines of text have been written about the phenomenon that was this game, and the sub-genre that it created within the larger umbrella of role-playing games.

It’s a game that’s hovered in the periphery of my life since I was a young teenager. It was one of the games we sold at CompUSA when I worked there. Several of my friends were completely enthralled and addicted to it. Several of my co-writers at absolutely loved the game’s dark and violent atmosphere. Even my DM at the time, in the midst of running an epic five-year campaign, found himself captivated by the sparse dark fantasy world created by Blizzard Entertainment.

Me? Not so much.

As is well-known, the late 90s saw something of a renaissance in the world of digital role-playing games, with the arrival of such titles as Final Fantasy VII, Baldur’s Gate, The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, Wizardry VI and VII, Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment, Pools of Radiance, Dungeon Siege, and more.

Many of these games featured party-based mechanics, a rich amount of lore and backstory, character interactions, dialogue choices, complex plots, and richly-imagined fantasy worlds. Diablo by comparison, had…one main world map. Tristram. And below Tristram? 16 levels divided across four areas: The Cathedral, The Catacombs, The Caves, and finally, Hell.

Compared to its contemporaries, by this writer’s estimation, Diablo failed to provide several key components necessary to keep me engaged as a fan of the cRPG genre: depth, story, lore, characterisation, and an interesting world map.

And just to add injury to insult: the game lacked a save game feature nor any meaningful item or inventory management system. And dying in game? That felt like the final slap in the face. Did you die in-game? Guess what? Now you need to go and fetch your body – much like you would in an MMO like Asheron’s Call, EverQuest, or Ultima Online.

All the gameplay and design decisions made by Blizzard resulted in a game that felt like a massively multiplayer online game wearing the skin of a single player game. Suffice to say, I was not a fan. The game simply did not speak to me as a gamer. And that’s perfectly fine.

Time goes by

In the years that followed, two sequels were released, and a fourth is scheduled to hit store shelves within the next year or two. And despite its age, the original Diablo still has an active and engaged fan base – including, of course, modders.

And oh boy have they kept themselves busy.

There have been numerous mods over the years, including (and in no particular order): Diablo+, Diablo HD, The Hell, Infernity, The Rebirth, Hell 2, and Torch.

Each project sought to bring something different to the game. Rebirth, for example, uses the original assets of Diablo to tell a story set in the aftermath of Diablo II. Diablo + is a quality-of-life mod that integrates features from more contemporary RPGs as well as from Diablo II. The Hell ramps up the challenges in the game to nigh-on nightmarish levels.


And then there’s Diablo HD, a single-player and multiplayer mod for Diablo. As with the other mods, it took the base game and sought to make changes, many of them technical in nature, but some, as with Diablo+, sought to make the game compatible with modern systems.

What the team at Diablo HD have pulled off is nothing short of miraculous. In updating the game, they’ve made a few gameplay tweaks, introduced dynamic levels, new (and randomly-generated) bosses, new locations, and so much more. Though called Diablo HD, it’s actually two separate projects: Project Belzebub and Project Tchernobog. The former is a singleplayer and the latter – a multiplayer mod.

Rather than summarise it for you, here, instead, is a list of just some of the changes made by Project Belzebub:

Increased resolution and support for panoramic screens

Fully integrated with new windows systems

Many user interface improvements

New hero classes Barbarian and Assassin

All quests which were missing from original game are now implemented

Four difficulty levels available in single player

New locations

New special and randomly generated bosses

New spells

New character skills

New item types and affixes

204 unique items

28 sets with 105 set items

170 crafting recipes

Great number of minor gameplay changes

And many more…

And when they say “many more”, they mean it. One brave gamer, in fact, has gone through and produced a fantastically comprehensive write-up of every change and modification they could identify within the game, which discusses graphics, storage, classes, skills, spells, gameplay, difficulty levels, and one of my favourite additions – crafting.

If you have even the slightest interest in Diablo, this write-up by Quasit is absolutely worth checking out. Quasit went to crazy lengths to discuss all identifiable changes in detail.

Conversations with the Past

Project Belzebub is one hell of a mod. Nearly every design feature that frustrated me 24 years ago has been either corrected or tweaked just enough to no longer bug the absolute hell out of me. And if that sounds like a slight against the original game – it’s not. Diablo is piece of art from a period of history where designers we were still figuring out what games could and could not do, and experimented with all sorts of choices that contemporary audiences would find completely baffling.

But that was gaming in the 90s. It was the wild west. Designers and artists didn’t know what they didn’t know. So it’s nice to see that two decades later, a group of talented modders could come together to take a classic and find a way to make it not just work for modern systems, but to also work for modern gamers. Or for gamers who felt it came short of meeting its potential all those years ago.

You can learn more about Project Belzebub at the mod’s homepage.

You can also join the official Diablo HD Discord server, to discuss Belzebub and the separate multiplayer mod, Project Tchernobog.

Diablo III: The Order

(Image courtesy of

Media tie-ins are a notoriously tricky balancing act for writers. On the one hand, it’s a fun opportunity to play in someone else’s sandbox and a chance to contribute your own voice and ideas to the established world and lore.

On the other hand, the stories they can tell are hampered by the restrictions set out by the parent company and publisher. Commonly, media tie-in novels provide background information or lore that games don’t explain due to narrative/design constrictions or because it would simply be too distracting.

Which forces writers to engage in a tricky – if not fascinating – balancing act, balancing their creative impulses with the boundaries and parameters set out by the needs of the text. Instead of reaching out to previous tie-in writers like Mel Odom or Richard Knaak, Blizzard Entertainment and Pocket Books instead decided to bring in American horror and thriller writer Nate Kenyon, best known for his Bram Stroker Award finalist novels Bloodstone and The Reach.

As explained in an interview with Kenyon, “The Order is an attempt to reboot the franchise, in a way, by providing the back story from the first two games and giving a lead-in to the third.”[1]

Not unlike the Star Wars extended universe, Blizzard Entertainment brought in new blood to try and revitalise the series and explore new ways to tell stories within the world.

In this they have succeeded. Kenyon’s horror sensibilities are clearly on display within the novel, conveying a distinct and legitimate sense of unease, discomfort, and a palpable sense of a world descending into darkness and decay.

Divided into three parts (The Gathering Shadows, Darkness Descending, and The Lord of Lies) across 40 chapters, The Order reintroduces readers to Deckard Cain, an established character from the first two Diablo games, and also introduces the character of Leah – who appears in Diablo III, as well as the monk Mikulov, who appears in several other stories, including Storm of Light and Brothers in Arms.

The Gathering Storm, the novel’s “setup sequence”, introduces the principal characters and a familiar face or two from previous games, as well as the principal antagonist of the novel, the wholly unimaginatively named Dark One. (Clearly 2012 wasn’t the year to retire certain exhausted genre tropes.) Darkness Descending is the novel’s road trip sequence, and is followed by the third segment, The Lord of Lies, which is a gripping and exciting action sequence from nearly start to finish, and shows off Kenyon’s finely-honed thriller muscles.

If there are any complaints to be had, they are few and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Kenyon’s penchant for grim and sometimes peculiar analogies can become tiresome to some readers, and the sparse level of description given to environments and characters might leave some readers frustrated, particularly those accustomed to larger fantasy novels where such things are par for course.

So despite a successful standalone novel, the novel does also provide some valuable insights and information for anyone about to sink their teeth into Diablo III. As stated by Kenyon, “There are major clues to some of the most important parts of the game, and this novel will give gamers a new perspective on D3 that they wouldn’t have without it. I think players who read the novel will go into D3 with a deeper understanding of why these events happen, why certain characters behave the way they do, and it will make their experience that much richer and more complex.”

In short, there’s something for everyone here. For Diablo fans, a bit of extra lore, and for general readers, an ambient and perhaps slightly underwritten but otherwise effective fantasy horror novel with a nice dose of mystery, intrigue, and character development.

Diablo III: The Order is available now in bookstore as well as on the Kindle store. You can learn more about Nate Kenyon at his website (though it does appear to be down at the moment).


Black Geyser: Couriers of Darkness

“Chaos and despair spread throughout the Kingdom of Isilmerald. Its desperate people cry out, praying to the gods for help. But the force they face is no mere plague of the undead, or demonic attack… Something far more sinister, far more primal is afoot. Avarice!

Law and order quickly collapses as everyday citizens turn outlaw, attacking anyone unfortunate to cross their path…all for a few more gold coins. From high-born to low, greed spreads. Infecting the land like some divinely inspired disease, intent on purging the world of men. And it comes for you next!

Will you yield to the dark tendrils of desire coiling around your heart? Become an agent of greed and usher the kingdom into chaos. Or rebuke its seductive advances? Vow to discover the truth of the madness and restore the kingdom to its rightful glory? The choice is yours.”

Welcome to Black Geyser: Couriers of Darkness, which takes players on a journey through the fantasy world of Yerengal.

A Kickstarter-funded single-player game developed by Austrian and Hungarian videogame developer GrapeOcean Technologies, the isometric cRPG takes more than a few cues from the Black Isle and Bioware games that inspired it – including the title, which has the same initials as Baldur’s Gate. No doubt intentionally.

Featuring real-time with pause mechanics, an isometric camera angle, an original rules system, and a mix of conventional and original high fantasy races and factions, the game has been in development since early 2018 and is expected to be released to PCs, Linux, and MacOS operating systems on both Steam and GOG.

Having clearly taken a few cues from more recent isometric cRPGs such as Pillars of Eternity and Divinity: Original Sin II, the interface will no doubt seem a bit familiar to players of those games – which is arguably for the best, as both titles built took the ideas established by Bioware and Black Isle and enhanced them, by including features such as a party war chest and crafting skills and options. It’s not surprising then, that Black Geyser would do much the same.

Despite having been publicly backed by prominent industry figures such as Obsidian Entertainment CEO Feargus Urquhart and InXile CEO Brian Fargo, the game has maintained a strangely low profile the last few years. Despite having a dedicated website and a semi-active presence across their Facebook, Youtube, and Kickstarter pages, there’s been very little active marketing for the game–which is unusual, given GrapeOcean’s intention of releasing the game some time in 2021.

Hopefully this relative silence will change as the game approaches completionm, as this game deserves the biggest audience possible.

At present, beta demos have been issued to backers of the project, and the company itself has released several free-to-watch demo previews on their Youtube channel (see below). They’ve even released some music that will be heard in the final game.

Black Geyser: Couriers of Darkness is scheduled for release in 2021.

The Trials and Tribulations of the Nerevarine

(Balmora by night.)

After 40 hours, and 13 levels, another box has been ticked, another accomplishment made, another goal achieved – I’ve finally finished The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.

Originally released on 1 May 2002, Morrowind is the third main entry in the Elder Scrolls series, and was preceded by The Elder Scrolls: Arena and The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall – the latter of which is commonly cited as the biggest single-player game ever made.

Confession: I did not like Morrowind upon release. Terrific score by Jeremy Soule aside, the interface irked me, the lack of any guidance from the game as to where players ought to go or do frustrated me, and the excessively open-ended game design failed to captivate me as a player.

A very similar feeling was had with the fourth entry in the series, Oblivion.

It was not until I met my fiancee and was introduced to her favourite game – The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, that I became hooked. On her recommendation, I purchased the Legendary Edition on Steam for $60AUD and was hooked instantly. Its cinematic opening, comforting wintry landscape (a familiar sight to this Russian-born New England native), majestic score courtesy of Jeremy Soule, satisfying marker system, and expansive modding community resulted in a gaming experience that consumed over 400 hours of my life.

And after some hemming and hawing, led me to return to the previous games in the series that had, earlier in my life, left me feeling indifferent.

So I’ve gone back to both Oblivion, and more recently Morrowind, and have completed the main stories in both games, as well as multiple side-quests. And I have already started making mental notes on the write-up that will eventually make its way here.

But for the moment, I’m happy to celebrate an achievement 19 years in the making.

It’s still a frustrating game, with a UI that lacks the kind of flexibility that I would prefer (wherefore art thou, sorting columns?). But it’s undeniably a gorgeously designed game, and one that famously saved Bethesda Games from closing shop. In 2021, it’s a game that absolutely requires a few basic quality of life mods to be enjoyed – primarily in the form of the OpenMW mod, which updates the graphics, resolution options, and fixes a few bugs as well. That, alongside the Real Sign Posts and Run Faster mods (all of which can be found at Nexus Mods), dramatically improves the game.

And now that I’ve finished Morrowind, it’s time to revisit and finish the biggest game of them all.

It’s time to pay a visit to Daggerfall.

Dragon Age IV finds its single-player mojo

In what can only be deemed a good decision, Bioware and EA have made the very wise decision to remove all multiplayer components from the still-in-development Dragon Age IV, to focus on a tight single-player experience. Bloomberg broke the story this morning.

Following on the heels of two critical failures in a row – Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem – Dragon Age IV is widely seen as being absolutely critical to Bioware’s reputation. As a studio famed for its excellent single-player games, including Baldur’s Gate I and II, Star Wars: The Knights of the Old Republic, the Mass Effect trilogy, and the Dragon Age series, attempting to include multiplayer components in their games have been less successful. Though Dragon Age: Inquisition features a multiplayer component, it never quite attracted the number of players and interest that the studio and its parent company EA had hoped to see.

Dragon Age IV has itself seen a number of creative design shifts, including a previous pivot towards more multiplayer features. That change, back in 2017, led to the departure of creative director Mike Laidlaw, and resulted in several employees dubbing the game “Anthem with dragons”.

However, on the back of the success of Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, Star Wars: Squadrons, and the critical and financial failure of Anthem, the pivot back to a single-player focus will hopefully restore fan faith in the company and appease unhappy staff members.

Dragon Age IV is currently in development, with no firm launch date set at present.

Anthem’s swan song

Well, it’s game over for Anthem.

EA and Bioware have announced that they will no longer be working on Anthem 2.0, otherwise known as Anthem Next, and will instead, redirect all energies and focus to Dragon Age 4 and Mass Effect 4.

Christian Dailey wrote, in an official Bioware blog post:

“In the spirit of transparency and closure we wanted to share that we’ve made the difficult decision to stop our new development work on Anthem (aka Anthem NEXT). We will, however, continue to keep the Anthem live service running as it exists today.”

A famously troubled production (originally codenamed ‘Project Dylan’), Anthem lacked a strong direction and focus for several years while in development, and ultimately launched to the worst reviews and sales in the history of Bioware.

Anthem was one of several SaaS games that emerged on the market during the 2010s, alongside No Man’s Sky, Destiny, Destiny 2, The Division, The Division 2, and more. Despite some excellent design ideas and an absolutely magnificent soundtrack by Sarah Schachner, Anthem never quite found an audience, and featured content that had clearly been gutten to hit a release date.

Hopefully, Bioware have learned from the mistakes of Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem, and release games worthy of their name and legacy.

3DGN Feature: Daikatana

Well this takes me back. This is some of my first professional material produced as a videogame journalist for, written back in early 2000. I’m still especially proud of this piece. A lot of time went into researching everything, structuring the piece, working out a captivating presentation, getting the artwork ready with our brilliant in-house artist, and trying to be the best journalist that I knew how to be as someone who was about to begin a degree in the subject at university.

You can still read the original piece via the Wayback Machine, if you’re so inclined.

Many moons ago, the angel Romero was expelled from the heaven of id and fell to Ion. Then many rejoiced, for angel Romero had repented for his evil ways, and thus came Daikatana. Slowly the whispers began of the sword and its mighty powers, then slowly less and less, and then came the wind and floods, and many a curses fell upon the Ion’s repented walls. With time, Ion rebuilt and grew again, and all was good.

Unless you’ve been living on an island all your life, you know who John Romero is and the history of what is one of the most anticipated games ever, Daikatana. And if you know of Daikatana, you know of the Dallas Observer Article. For now, pretend it doesn’t exist, because this is about the game Daikatana, not about the troubles of Ion Storm.

I. Genesis: The Dream

In the beginning Romero created the Doom and the Quake.
And the Quake was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the Doom.
And Romero said, let there be story; and there was story.
And Romero saw the story, that it was good.
And Romero called the story Daikatana, and the story was the first day.

When work began on Daikatana over two years ago, it was Romero’s dream to create the ultimate single player game. At that time, the gaming world was filled with Doom and Quake clones, but most of them lacked substance. The dream was to change this, to make the most spectacular single player experience ever seen, and with Daikatana, this dream is about to become a reality. Since then, with the emergence of Half-Life and Thief, the single player aspect of first person shooters has reached an all time high, and with Cavedog’s Amen due this summer, Daikatana will have even more competition for crown of best single player fps.

Despite that, Romero’s work continues unabated, and in recent months, the work that has been accomplished has been phenomenal. With new programmers working on Daikatana, things are up and running better than ever. In a recent interview with Romero, when asked about the new team working on the game, he mentioned that “The old guys were becoming unmotivated. They were not happy, I guess… and some people, when they’re not happy, are not gonna work real well. So things just kind of slowed down. But with everybody now, with a brand new team, work is moving fast.” The evidence behind this? Bobby Pavlock, who has become Daikatana’s most ardent supporter. If his and others’ beliefs are any indication, then Daikatana should more than live up to its promises.

II. Exodus: Graphics

And Romero took the engine Quake, and divided the graphics from the time, and it was so.
And the graphics and the time stream were the second day.

Imagine a story spanning four time periods, advanced AI, more monsters than any other game, a wide variety of weaponry, AI sidekicks, stunning level design, Doom style deathmatch, interactive environments, an rpg based experience system, environmental effects, 16-bit color, an improved Quake II engine, and in-game and cinematic cutscenes. The stuff that makes every gamer’s jaw drop in awe. If the latest screenshots released of Daiakatana prove anything, it’s that this is going to be one damn pretty game.

Big gun!

In an email I received from Ion Storm, the recommended system requirements at this time for good performance are now no slower than a 300 mhz cpu, 96mb, and a TNT. Romero has alluded to glide not being supported, only OpenGL and Direct3D at this point, which makes the TNT the ideal video card for Daikatana. For those of you who don’t want to upgrade, you’ll need to in order to run Quake III decently, as well as Unreal Tournament, and many other future games. A 233 is no longer acceptable for decent performance. For all you Voodoo 2 owners out there, a 12 MB card is recommended. Daikatana will run acceptably, but expect to have to turn off some of the eye candy. This ain’t your daddy’s Quake II engine anymore.

III. Leviticus: The Story

And Romero made three great lights; the greatest light Hiro to win the day, the second light Mikiko to light the way, and the third light Superfly to inflict the beat down.
And Romero set them in the story of the Daikatana to give light upon the Quake.
And to rule over the Daikatana and over the story, and to divide the Daikatana from the Quake; and Romero saw that it was good.
And the Daiktana and the story were the third day.

For those who’ve seen “Back to the Future 2,” the theme of time travel is a similar one. But I don’t think there’s ever been a game that’s used it quite to this extent. If Daikatana fulfills its promises, this could be the gaming equivalent of Terminator 2. The story is as follows:

Several hundred years ago, a weapons forger for the Shogunate Mishima by the name of Usagi Miyamoto crafted the Daikatana. After discovering that the clan Mishima wanted to use the Daikatana in dishonorable ways (read: kill lotsa people) Usagi realized what he had to do. Making his way to the tip of Mount Fujiya, he performed the ancient Japanese ceremonial act of Hara Kiri (belly slashing) as such is required of a dishonored samurai warrior and impaled himself on the Daikatana, and he and the sword fell into the volcano. The sword was then lost for an age. Time passed.

The year was 2455 AD. Through the determination and guidance of Dr. Toshiro Ibihara, the Daikatana was recovered from the bowels of Mount Fujiya. To test the power of the Daikatana, Ibihara’s daughter Mikiko and his proudest student, Hiro Miyamoto, volunteered to be sent into the future for a short period of time. During the time the two were temporally displaced, Ibihara’s assistant, Michi Yoshida, murdered his mentor and stole the Daikatana. With it, he traveled 425 years into the past, to amend the name of his clan: Clan Mishima. He stole the cure for the AIDS virus from its rightful inventor, Dr. Ibihara’s ancestor and presented it to the world as his own. Yoshida then used the wealth gained through the cure for AIDS to build a fortress, where the Daikatana would remain safe from those who know of its existence and powers.

The player controls Hiro Miyamoto, and with the aid of the AI-controlled Mikiko, the daughter of slain scientist Dr. Ebihara, and Superfly Johnson, the three set out to show Yoshida the Webster’s Dictionary definition of pain, obtain the Daikatana, go back into the past, set history straight, and prevent Dr. Ibhara’s murder from ever happening. Together, the three of you have to travel through time and stop Michi Yoshida and kick some serious ass along the way. Got all that? Good, cause there’s gonna be a test.

Thankfully, Romero had better taste than Core Design when concerned with Mikiko. The early depictions of Mikiko displayed her as nothing more than an Asian Lara Croft. Since that time she’s grown into a three dimensional character. Perhaps it was what Romero originally planned. Perhaps it had something to do with articles such as GDR’s “Sex Sells but I’m Not Buying.” Perhaps not. But despite that, Mikiko looks to be the videogame equivalent of Sarah Connor. Any woman who can make a man piss in his pants is ok by me.

What’s even more intriguing is the lack of any ‘wasp’ characters. Hiro and Mikiko are either Asian (or Japanese, at this point Romero has yet to say), and Superfly Johnson is black. I’m left wondering, political correctness in action? Most likely it has something to do with Romero’s own heritage. Toss in a dash of 1970’s blaxploitation for good measure and some pop culture reference to spice it up, and you have potential lightning in a bottle.

Now onto the four episodes.

Kyoto, Japan, 2455 AD

Straight outta Kyoto.

What should we expect? From the screenshots released so far, it looks as if BladeRunner inspired a good bit of the design for this time period. Sometimes the design is the message essentially. The first level of Kyoto, Japan, named The Swamp, has many glaring neon lights, trash cluttered streets, run down buildings, and robotic defenders of all sorts, such as the Robocrox, Roboskeets, Froginators, and more.

The second level is entitled The Sewer, where Hiro and Mikiko run into the sluge minion, which are big and nasty, kinda like that mean old grandmother on your mother’s side that always terrified you as a kid. But at least the Sludge Minion makes your death a quick one; my grandmother always banged on my hands with a ruler.

In the third level, entitled The Slammer, you run into Superfly Johnson (I won’t even touch on the sheer oddness of his name). Following this are four more levels: The Fortress, The Defense Zone, The Lab, and The Vault. Be on the lookout for access to a hidden level somewhere in The Vault.

The second episode begins in Athens, Greece, 2030 BC.

Fire down below!

The first level begins on Lemnos Isle and then from there to The Catacombs of Athens, and then Athens itself. From there the trio heads to The Parthenon, Minos’s Castle, and The Labyrinth of the Minotaur. Expect to run into (duh) a Minotaur, as well as some griffins, sirens, Medusa (my next door neighbor), Satyrs (the guys with the goat legs who play the flute. No, not those kind of goat legs. Get your head out the gutter.) This age contains a secret level as well that has old one eye himself, Cyclops of ancient lore, wandering about his own island.

As you travel through the different levels, remember to continue charging up the Daikatana by using it to take out enemies. Be on the lookout for the Sepukku power (actually, it’s Hara Kiri, but apparently Romero didn’t study the Bushido code of honor when writing Daikatana).

The third time period is my favorite one. The Dark Ages of Norway (where in Norway, John?), 560 AD.


The first level is Plague Village, and from there the trio continues to The Choice, Mountain Pass, The Dungeon, and finally Castle Keep. The secret level here? The Dragon’s Lair. I’ll let you figure it out. And I only wish I knew what kind of dragon. I’m hoping for red, but beggars can’t be choosers. Expect this age to feel not un-similar in style to that of Hexen II, as in this age you’ll have to deal with 4 evil mages.

The fourth and final age is San Francisco, 2030 AD.

“Gentlemen…welcome to the rock!”

This isn’t your daddy’s San Francisco anymore. The Big One (no, not a drugged up Levelord), an earthquake, which has now split a part of San Francisco into the Pacific Ocean. Don’t ya hate it when that happens? This age begins on The Rock (Alcatraz) and continues with Escape from Alcatraz. From there the age continues with the Tower of Crime, Research Complex, and finally Mishima’s Hideout.

IV. Numbers: Monsters

And Romero said, let the monsters under the darkness be gathered together not unto one place, and let the lands appear; and it was so.
And Romero called the first land Kyoto, Japan 2450 AD. He named the second land Athens, Greece, 2030 BC. The third land was named Norway, 560 AD. The final land unto Romero was named San Francisco 2030 AD. And the gathering together of the lands was called time traveling; and Romero saw that it was good.
And Romero said, let the Earth bring forth evils in each age, the age yielded the evil, and it was so.
And the evil spewed forth, and Romero saw that it was good.
And the ages and the evils were the fourth day.

I’m sure many people are wondering what relevance the four different time periods have to anything in the game. Well, outside of giving level designers an amazing challenge, it’s a step in the opposite direction when compared to most 3D shooters of late. Most fps games tend to stick to the ‘corridor shooter’ style that began with Wolfenstein 3D. Since then, few games have tried to focus on a different design, most notably Unreal. The trend continued with Tribes. And now it’s Daikatana’s turn. Throughout the game, Hiro, Mikiko, and Superfly will travel to four different time periods, and each time period will boast different weapons and monsters. Unlike Half-Life, this game is not trying to be realistic in any sense of the word, so please suspend your belief and hang on, cause the ride only gets bumpier from here on in.

Critters galore

What sort of enemies can we expect to see in each time period? In a recent editorial written by the girls down at OGR, Romero revealed that originally there were going to be a total of approximately 60 enemies, which then went up to 80, and then down to 55. Although which enemies have been removed is not yet known, there are at this time, 66 known monsters.

Kyoto, Japan 2450, AD

Roboco Crox (robotic crocodile)
Roboco Slaughterskeet III (robotic mosquito)
Roboco Slaughterskeet Protopod (slaughterskeet eggs)
Roboco Lethallick Froginator II (robotic frog)
Roboco Thunderskeet IV (large version of the slaughterskeet III, miniboss in the game)
Roboco Venomvermin XP5 (unknown at this time, probably a big ass rat based on the name)
Roboco Tentaclor (a gigantic robotic octopoid, miniboss in the game)
Roboco Sludge Minion (a man-size robot that tends to the sewers of the fortress)
Roboco Inmater (a box-like robot that patrols in front of the prison cells)
Prisoner (duh)
Roboco Ragemaster 5000 (robot with two huge hammer fists)
Roboco Battle Boar (four-wheeled robotic boar with long tusks)
Roboco Paindrone (floating, robotic laser sphere)
Roboco Track Attack (track robot with Gatling guns)
Roboco Track Daddy (a large version of the Track Attack)
Roboco Laser Gat (are suspended from the ceiling and shoot at the player)
Roboco Cambot (floating camera)
Lab Worker With Gun (the name says it all)
Roboco Deathsphere (a massive floating defense droid)
Psyclaw (a huge brain with four lion-like legs with claws and a long tail)

Athens, Greece, 2030 BC

Skeleton (duh)
Centurion (spear-throwing soldier)
Spider (duh)
Squid (duh)
Siren (kinda like an evil mermaid)
Ferryman (used to get across the Aegean Sea to the catacombs of Athens)
Harpy (beautiful winged woman with eagle feet and a large bow)
Griffon (half-lion, half-eagle, all evil)
Satyr (half-human, half-goat)
Thieves (I’ll let you figure this one out)
Caryatid Columns (huge statue of a woman with a sword, miniboss)
Cerebus (jumping, biting, three-headed hell dog, miniboss)
Medusa (humanoid with hair of swarming snakes)
King Minos (NPC)
Cyclops (big one eyed monster, hurls large rocks at you, miniboss)
Minotaur (large upright-walking bull-man, final boss)

The Dark Ages of Norway, 560 AD

Buboid (a Black Plague victim who wanders the streets)
Plague Rat (disease carrying rodent)
Rotworms (huge, slimy maggots)
Doom Bat (uglier and nastier version of a bat)
Lycanthir (bipedal werewolf)
Fletcher (archers)
Fly (non attacking fly)
Priest (an old priest who gives you information about your quest)
Dardic Dwarf (short, stocky dwarf with an ax and helmet)
Dragon Eggs (similar to Alien eggs)
Baby Dragon (a small, red dragon)
Dragon (what do you think?)
Celestril The Conjuror (the weakest of the four mages that must be faced, miniboss)
Wyndrax The Wizard (the second of four mages that must be faced, miniboss)
Sabikiis The Sorcerer (second most powerful mage, miniboss)
Nharre The Necromancer (Nharre is the most powerful mage of the four, miniboss)
King Gharroth (evil ruler that needs to be shown the boot, main boss)

San Francisco, 2030 AD

Black Prisoner (big prisoner)
White Prisoner (a white prisoner)
Gang Member 1 (Uzi-toting male)
Gang Member 2 (same as Gang Member 1, but with different clothing)
Female Gang Member (just a female Gang Member)
Rocket Launcher Dude (heavy-duty gang member with a rocket launcher)
Flying Chaingunner (similar to Gang Member 1, but wields a chaingun)
Monkey (I don’t even want to know)
Hummer GI (Hummer with a driver and gunner)
Apache Helicopter (Apache attack chopper that strafes the grounds)
Military Policeman 1 (a navy guy with a Navy-issued handgun)
Military Policeman 2 (a navy MP with dual heat-seeking rocket launchers)
Navy Seal (Navy SEAL in full combat gear)
Neal Seal Captain (big Navy SEAL in full condom gear)
Shark (very large great white shark)
Octopus (large, dark green octopus)

For the single player campaign, the monster AI will work through a node system to premap all the levels for the AI code. What does this mean? The enemies know the entire level. They know where the trio can go, where special areas are, and thus can chase you all over.

V. Deuteronomy: Weapons

And Romero said, let the waters bring forth an abundance of artillery. The moving laser that hath life, and rail that may fly above the earth in the arena of deathmatch.
And Romero crafted weapons of mass destruction and power, and every living creature that moveth stopped a moveth. They came forth abundantly, and every weapon after his kind of madness; and Romero saw that it was good.
And Romero sanctified them, saying, be fruitful, and deathmatch. And the seas became as blood, and the Daikatana was sanctified.
And the weapons and the sanctification were the fifth day.

Each age has its own separate weapons that will not port over to the next age. If you’re wondering why, I have no idea, I’m going by what Romero decreed. Imagine walking up to a main boss with over 10 weapons to choose from. Sounds a tad bit over the top now doesn’t it? Exactly my point. So how are the weapons? Bloody frickin powerful if you ask me. Unlike Turok 2 or Blood 2, Daikatana isn’t trying to go for sheer power but sheer fun and creativity. Any gun can be made to be powerful, but that concept has become rehashed, and now gamers want interesting weapons that aren’t just bigger versions of one another.

If the weapons listed below do as I hope they do, I know I’ll be very pleased when I go to deathmatch with my editor. With Quake II and Half-Life weapons under fire for being slow, John Carmack saw the light and decided to speed them up in Quake III. The same can be said of Daikatana. The weapons in Daikatana are meant to be the perfect deathmatch weapons, with a good amount of variety for rocket arena style gaming (sidewinder), melee combat (silverclaw, disruptor glove), and free-for-alls (Eye of Zeus, Slugger, Kinteticore).

Kyoto, Japan 2450, AD

Ion Blaster

Ion Storm’s ion blaster

Hmm, I’m wondering if this fires an ion? Makes you think what inspired this one. It looks similar in style to Quake II’s firecracker gun. After staring at pictures until my eyes cried for Gillian Anderson, I came upon the decision that this gun must have to spin up to charge up, similar to my editor’s hamster.

C4 Vizatergo

This is going to be the nasty mutha of the bunch. This weapon allows you to fire C4 plastic explosives that adhere to walls. The C4 may then be remotely detonated, and several can be used at a time. But if you blow one, they all blow. Kaboom. Big toy.


6 round semi automatic shotgun. If you’ve ever seen a tommy gun (just watch some cheesy gangsters flick like Dick Tracey) this’ll remind you of it. A friggin’ gangster inspired gun in a fantasy game? Script doctor! Rewrite!


I’m not quite sure what this gun does, but so far, based upon what I’ve seen, it looks like it fires two missiles at once. Ooohh, this is going to make for a fun little deathmatch weapon. Rocket launcher? Hah! Why settle for one when you can double that? Add to that 6 mini missiles on the handgrip (look at the picture if you don’t believe me), and this all adds up to one lethal weapon. Yes, I definitely think the Daikatana deathmatch is going to be fun.


The shockwave looks really big (Ever notice that big spelled backwards is gib?) and really mean in a firefight. I’d imagine it chews up ammo like Billy “Wicked” Wilson does carrots.

Disruptor Glove If I had an image to go on, I’d talk about how cool it is, but I think the name speaks for itself. I can only imagine how cool it would be to demolecularize your opponent. The more I think about this glove the more I can imagine someone out there making a karate chop animation mod for this glove and running around on a server killing people with one swift blow.

Athens, Greece, 2030 BC

Poseidon’s Trident

Since this weapon has three prongs on the tip of it, it’d be safe to say that it doesn’t shoot water, which would be pretty damn lame. As a guess, it probably shoots those prongs and reloads, and fires again. It’d have to reload quicker than Quake II’s super shotgun to be lethal enough to show an enemy what dirt tastes like.

Discus of Daedalus

This could be a potentially nasty weapon. It consists mainly of a bronze disc with a sharpened edge. When thrown, if it doesn’t find a target it will come back after a while. (kinda like Captain America’s shield) It can bounce off walls and make sushi of an enemy. It can paint your walls, do your dishes, and can even vacuum your floor. Oh, that was a bad pun….


This is probably going to be the puniest of all weapons available. Just thinking about using this in a multiplayer game makes me want to puke. The Venomous is a staff that has two snakes entwined around it with the heads at the top and wings on the sides. When fired, the heads will alternately blow out clouds of translucent poison that float and hover in the air, until an idiot creature runs into them. This is just as bad as Quake II’s sorry excuse for a flare gun.

Sunflare I don’t even have a picture to go on, although I’m guessing this is going to be heat related with fire balls of heat giving those ever so pale enemies the tan they’ve always wanted. If this weapon does what I think it will, then pyromaniacs around the world will be very happy.

Eye of Zeus

Have you ever seen Raiders of the Lost Ark? Of course you have. Remember The Ark of the Covenant? Remember how much ass it kicked at the end of the film? Well, folks, this is the hand held version of it. The Eye of Zeus is a magical staff with an eye at the tip. In an enclosed space, a bolt of lightning fires from the eye and nails the closest enemy. The lightning bolt will in turn chain from the hit enemy to any enemy that it can see. Every single enemy will want to pooch screw you even more for using this weapon, if they aren’t flashfried.

The Dark Ages of Norway, 560 AD


A close range weapon, this glove will allow you to show your enemies what they would look like if they were sushi. This is a weapon of lesser power, but a necessary weapon nonetheless, as this is the only weapon that can hurt the werewolves in the game.


Your normal everyday crossbow. Thank you, drive through, next?

Stavros’ Stave

A jewel-tipped scepter that summons meteors. Didn’t Heretic II have the same damn thing as a spell?


Rumor has it though that this is a supped up version of the bolter. Does it have sheep on it like Hexen II?

Wyndrax’s Wisp

I have absolutely no idea what this does, although somehow I imagine that is the sort of thing that Gandalf would carry. It looks like a walking stick with a claw at the end. Above the claw is a hovering sphere. All I can say is, it looks pretty friggin powerful.

Nharre’s Nightmare

This weapon looks damn cool, but Romero and his hair refuse to tell me what it does. The skull with the emerald on it makes this the choice weapon for all you Sauron wannabe’s out there, simply because it looks damn cool.

San Francisco, 2030 AD


Bigger than Quake II’s BFG, this weapon shoots laser pulses. I’m betting that these laser pulses are pretty friggin big. Secondary fire fires a Cordite Cluster. What the hell is a cordite?


Looks like Quake II’s chaingun. Hopefully the load up time has been increased. And this thing looks like it can hold a lot of ammo. I wonder if there’s a bullet to blood volume ratio that could be set up….


Who wants to bet this is just a regular glock pistol? A picture is worth a thousand words, except when it’s invisible.


It’s got a lot of hydraulic pipes connected to it, and has one single slot to fire from. Who wants to take bets that this is the bfg of the game? I would imagine the nova beam is just that, a beam. But from the looks of it, with the large base and small slot to fire from, this thing probably needs to be charged up a good bit.


Take the hyperblaster from Quake II. Make it shoot at railgun speed, and have it fire 5 balls at once that will bounce off walls 10 times and then evaporate unless they find a target. Sounds nasty don’t it? It gets better. When a ball hits a target, it causes a small concussion sphere. Now imagine getting nailed with 5 of these nasty suckers. This is going to be such a fun little weapon for deathmatching.


Remember the snarks from Half-Life? Imagine a mechanical version of one of those. It’ll hook to a wall after scampering around for a few moment. Once it adheres to the wall it’ll release a trip wire. Once someone runs over the trip wire the metamaser will lock a tracking beam onto the target and start charging up its laser blast.

Once it charges up, it fires a laser beam at the opponent. This is going to be an amazing weapon for deathmatch. Oh yes, just you wait and see, oh yes, it shall be so. Just imagine setting 50 of these loose in a level and hiding in a safe spot. Everyone would be dead so quickly! This is going to be such an amazing deathmatch weapon!

Although not counted as weapons, power-ups referred to here as artifacts are found in each age and can prove to be helpful:
Wraith orb
Golden soul
Temporary stat boosters

Found in Kyoto, Japan are: Jet Boots and an Oxylung
Found in Ancient Greece are: Earwax, a Spear, and a Shield
Found in Dark Ages Norway are: Ice Boots, a Ring of Fire Resistance, and a Ring of Undead Protection
Found in San Francisco is an Envirosuit

VI. Joshua: Multiplayer

And Romero said, let the ages bring forth the living creature after his kind, deathmatchers, and creeping things called campers and beasts of the Earth after his kind: KillCreek. And it was so.
And Romero made the beast of the earth after his kind, and deathmatchers after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after camper kind; and Romero saw that it was good.
And Romero said, behold, I have given you every ion bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the Earth, and every weapon, in the which is the ammo of a weapon yielding blood; to you it shall be for gib.
And Romero saw everything that he had made, and it was very good.
And the deathmatcher and the camper were the sixth day.

Daikatana is expected to ship with 4 different multiplayer options:
Co-op DM

Since the single player is the most integral part of the game, deathmatch is secondary to everything else. As Romero himself puts it, “You don’t really have to focus a whole lot on deathmatch to make it cool. It kind of works itself out, as long as you have good rules for how the world works and you have decent weapon balancing”. Fair enough. I’m certain many people will disagree with this, but in the case of Quake II, the multiplayer just worked itself out as well. Originally there were no deathmatch maps, and in the end it has become the most played multiplayer game other than Ultima Online.

How’s the movement speed? Somewhere between Doom 2 and Quake. I don’t think I can say it any better than Stevie “KillCreek” Case has: “Holy S*#T!!!! There are no words for how fun the deathmatch is right now…and we are still in the tweaking stages. Do not fear action fans, Daikatana is superfast, hardcore carnage at its best. Cool effects, useful features, awesome art, and some kickass levels are really coming together to make this game ROCK HARD!….the pure carnage is amazing!!”

I can’t help but get excited to hear such good things about Daikatana, especially since this is all coming from Stevie Case, who not only beat Romero’s ass in Quake deathmatches on several occasions, but also helped design several Quake II levels that can be found online. If she’s excited about a game, then I know there’s hope. And with newcomer Bobby Pavlock going out of his way to defend the game he’s come to love after only a few short months of being a part of, this has reassured me that Daikatana does infact still have a chance to be the game I’m hoping it’ll be.

In order for the multiplayer to work, the weapon balance must be right, and if the weapons above are as good in the game as they sound on paper, then the wholesale slaughter seen in Daikatana will be unlike anything before. Everyone should be pleased; campers and ‘run and gun’ players alike. I’m still waiting for a railgun type weapon myself. As for the network code, it’s Quake II, and it’s John Romero. Now put those two together, and what do you get? No, not the love child of John Romero and KillCreek, but the fastest network code around.

Why do I say this? Remember, John had a hand in creating Doom and Quake, which have some of the fastest network code around, and this is the Quake II engine, so the multiplayer should be blazing as it is. And even without Carmack to hold his hand, Romero probably picked up a thing or two about networking from id, and with the addition of four different multiplayer options, Daikatana should have a long lifespan online.

Who knows, it may even blow Quake II out of the water. Although whether or not it can match Quake III is something else entirely, although in a recent chat with William Haskins & Justin Randall on MPlayer, it was revealed that Daikatana uses about 25%-75% less bandwidth than Quake II, which is good news, since now even hpbs will be pleased. Who knows, Quake III might actually have some competition.

VII. Judges: Sound

Thus the deathmatcher and the camper were finished, and all the host of them.
And on the seventh day Romero looked at his work which he had made; and he restored the music of the world.
And Romero blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had revived 3D audio from an untimely end.

Lately, sound has come to play as important a role in games as graphics, and if what the head DK sound guy Mike Monatague promises is as good as he says, then we’re all in for a lush audiofest. In a recent email received from him, he revealed to me the plans Ion has concerning Daikatana.

As soon as Mike came onboard the DK team, he began rewriting the Quake II sound engine using Miles 5.0. Since then he and the audio staff have worked towards making Daikatana support DirectSound, A3D 2.0, EAX 2.0, and Dolby Pro-Logic. What soundcard is recommended? Either a MX300 or a SB Live. Don’t start drooling yet.

He also mentioned that as long as of all these are out before Daikatana, it’ll be in the game. So A3D 2.0 is in. Direct Sound (an extension of DirectX) is in. Dolby Pro-Logic is in. Only EAX 2.0 has become questionable, but Creative Labs has a few months left to get their act in gear. What of the speakers? 4 channel speakers (4 speakers) or a 5.1 channel (6 speakers: center, front left and right, rear left and right, and subwoofer) speaker systems are reccomended.

The game will have at least thirty CD audio tracks. Written by Will Loconto, the music in the game will vary depending on what age you are in. And there will be a Daikatana soundtrack. Expect a mesh of ambient music, rock, and heavy metal. The music isn’t present here for the hell of it. Instead, just like Jedi Knight, it’s here to enhance the single player campaign and add more atmosphere to the game.

You can now also listen to the soundtrack for free online.

VIII. Romero Takes a Nap: Conclusion

On the eight day Romero took a nap.
And deathmatchers rejoiced at news of a demo.
The screenshots doth came and many bright days ahead on the horizon awaited.

What is there left to say about Daikatana that has not yet been said? After all the hype and after all the controversy, after all the delays, if you strip all of it away, what’s left? A potential blockbuster game that may turn out to be a surprise to a lot of people if done right. I’ve been waiting three years for Daikatana, and I don’t mind waiting a bit longer if the game will be that much better.

How will it stack up against the oncoming onslaught of Quake III, Unreal Tournament, and Team Fortess 2? I would imagine quite well, for the simple fact that similar to Jedi Knight and Half-Life, this is a game where single player mode comes first and multiplayer second. And in a year filled primarily with multiplayer games, Daikatana should stand out in the crowd.

I can’t imagine Daikatana not being a success. Each and every game coming out this year sticks to one type of theme: Quake III has the techno/goth look, Unreal Tournament has the spacey science fiction theme similar to Unreal, and Team Fortress 2 has a World War II inspired theme. Daikatana never sticks to one theme; it offers 4 distinct themes.

To me, Daikatana is more akin to a perfected sauce; it has many different ingredients that need to be properly mixed to work. And if you mix them just right, people will come back for more. And with four different ages, rpg elements, fantastic visuals, unique weapons, an actual story, and fast paced deathmatch all mixed together, the result could give Daikatana an advantage over all other games making it stand out above the crowd. May the hamsters sing the praises of Daikatana through the night.

IX. Gallery: Daikatana

In the pipeline

Clearly, this site is very new, and as I slowly port over old content (primarily samples of my written work) for shameless self-promotion, the site will fill out. But the plan is to also produce new content alongside older works.

So the next cab off the rank will likely be a thought piece on the cRPG Tyranny, prodced by Obsidian Entertainment and Paradox Interactive.