Darklands is a role-playing game produced by MicroProse. Released in 1992 for the PC/DOS platform, Darklands is set in the Holy Roman Empire during the 15th century. While the geographic setting of the game is historically accurate, the game also includes many supernatural elements.
Darklands does not end. However, there are a limited number of quest types available, causing the game to become repetitive after extensive play. This type of gameplay is sometimes called sandbox mode. The plot is not linear. There is no set path for a player to follow. However, there is a main quest to follow, which involves preventing the apocalypse. The player is free to complete quests that will give them a positive reputation, or to pursue a negative reputation by performing evil deeds. In Darklands the player's reputation is limited geographically, allowing the player to be simultaneously hated in one region and exalted in another.
Age is a factor. Characters will begin to lose physical prowess as they age. However, the older the player is when the character is generated, the more skills and better equipment he or she starts with. The real-time combat is dependent not only on the characters' skills, but also the type and quality of weapons used against the enemy and its armor. For example, using swords against plate armored foes would be less effective than using flails or maces.
There are no other species available in character creation — all players are human and are differentiated by occupation. Any party member is capable of performing what are known as class-based feats in many other role playing games, but skillful players usually improve the party member's skills only in the appropriate area. Thus, the equivalent of a cleric in this game would be someone who specializes in religious studies as well as healing skills. Because the character specializes in the above, however, does not preclude him or her from learning artifice skills, such as lock picking.
All the cities that one's party may visit in Darklands are real places that existed in the Holy Roman Empire of the 15th century. Most are in modern-day Germany, but some are in other countries including Denmark, Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic and Poland. The city names given in the game are old German names of the cities, some of which are now exonyms. The new local names are given in parentheses.
While the majority of the game uses text-based menus—enhanced with hand-painted illustrations describing the player party's available actions, the party's movement between cities and during battle uses a graphical user interface.