Golden Sun: Dark Dawn

All will deteriorate when compared to the driving aspects that make this game

By Daavpuke, Posted 09 Mar 2011

Weyard has come 30 years since the events of the Golden Sun and its tremendous effects have literally altered the world forever. Since then alchemy and the adepts that wield the power of psynergy have come to stand in a different light and the brave warriors who once saved the world, now also have brought it closer to extinction. And yet, it is somewhat by chance, but perhaps fate, that the offspring from the Warriors of Vale themselves embark on a quest and discover the intricate ramifications their parents set in motion so long ago.

NoobFeed Review - Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
Meet some of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn's enchanting landscapes.

As always in the series, Golden Sun: Dark Dawn once again boasts a very deep and intertwining ominous plot. It seems every detailed aspect about the entire universe is thoroughly researched and brought to life, making Weyard one of the most believable worlds to rummage through. To aid you understand this vast amount of knowledge, Dark Dawn now implements an interactive encyclopedia during conversations, which one can look through to gain perspective of the things discussed. For those aware of it, it serves as a sort of Wikipedia page where all details are links; each prompting their explanation. This makes understanding and more importantly remembering each and every detail of the story a lot more comprehensible, as there is a load to know about Dark Dawn.

But as questing progresses, the party of adolescent heroes will themselves inquire as much as they can, as this goes with curious kids; they want to know it all. This will bring up a lot of conversations and discussions about inquiries and tactics, which will mostly be laden in that good old medieval politeness. Unfortunately, this will also mean most conversations will stretch on and on as characters apologize and express their dignified views to the point of tedium. It seems every cutscene runs for several minutes and each one could’ve been cut severely to keep some flow going, as the encyclopedia does most of the explanation.

NoobFeed Review - Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
There's a lot of running to the right in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn

Still, Dark Dawn picks up the pace in different areas to keep playing fun. The story is very streamlined, which offers new locations and dungeons at a steady pace. Also, dungeons are usually not long, arduous tasks; rather, they pose only some problems, some more challenging than others. These short spurts of puzzling help in keeping things fresh and as most puzzles have a clear overview, they won’t need a load of elaborate tasks to solve.  Again, this means dungeons can be completed fluently, as characters move from point to point, mostly due to an excellent level design.

Enhancing this experience is the wonderfully colorful environments in Weyard. The enchanting use of color schemes are some of the most well-combined ever brought to a screen and the mix between cel-shading and 3D amplifies this exponentially. This gets backed up by an instinctive camera use that seamlessly follows and focuses on characters everywhere they go. Almost movie-like, this trait will bring the best out of each terrain at all times, which helps to stay connected with your complete environment. To top it off, the driving music resonating in each scenery will work as an inspiration towards the end goal. This completes a presentation worthy of awards; as all aspects are not only in sync with each other, but are also well above par. The only downside is that zoomed in moments will show just how limited this graphical prowess is, as it reveals the pixelated view from up close.

NoobFeed Review - Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
Think this is impressive? It's by far one of the less stunning Djinn summons.

This will mostly be present when summoning powerful Djinn summons, as they get up close and personal with enemies in an otherwise extraordinary 3D vision in combat. Even though all Golden Sun entries have always been quite impressive with combat animation, the summon cutscenes and special effects in general are awe-inspiring in Dark Dawn. The battle system itself is quite similar to tradition. Choosing from an attack, psynergy spells, a Djinn attack, summoning or items; the party clashes in a turn-based way against random encounters and boss fights. Battles are never too challenging and the subsequent leveling occurs in rapid, but not hastened succession; leaving the adventure fluent, without sudden grinding bumps. This is yet another addition in the streamlined success story of Dark Dawn, though some purists might dislike the direct absence of a challenge. Additionally, the party can also perform special attacks from their weapons, by mastering the separate skills that each weapon holds as they attack foes. This creates a new layer in gameplay that will break the routine of combat and offer an alternative for powerful synergy use.

But for all the fluent marvels that Golden Sun: Dark Dawn holds there are also some aspects that seem less well implemented. For instance, most additional party characters get added so late into the game, it’s almost pointless to bond with them, after 30 or so levels of using the core party. More so, the end game itself seems to add unnecessary padding, as it sends you on a wild goose chase right at the end. Luckily, the streamlined gameplay returns before the conclusion to draw things back into perspective. Sadly, also the conclusion will be somewhat anticlimactic, due to the uncertainty of a prominent antagonist leaving the final boss to feel more like a random encounter than a final showdown. And together with the lengthy conversations mentioned before, it does seem that Dark Dawn’s 30 hour extravaganza was stretched for a few hours more with irrelevant content, which does not hold up to the extreme detail that the game already holds.

NoobFeed Review - Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
Fighting ghouls and ghoblins is still hip anno 2010.

It has taken Camelot seven years to meet the fans’ demand of a new Golden Sun iteration and this very late into the DS life cycle. What finally resulted is a top-notch presentation, with the steady gameplay to boot. Even though it has some drawbacks hindering the wondrous adventure through the world of Weyard, all will deteriorate when compared to the driving aspects that make this game. Few might look down upon the more light-hearted approach to this intricate universe, but none can deny the general quality that still resides within its heart. Golden Sun: Dark Dawn is still is a fun and foremost fluent adventure to embark on.

Gallery (4)

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed.

comments powered by Disqus

  • Oh Golden Sun, one day you will be mine!

    Posted Mar 10, 2011

  • what annoyed me the most was the difficulty (more specifically, the lack of it) and the brutal linearity. there are more than one djinn i can't go back to obtain because of that, something that wasn't around in the first two games.


    and there's also the story... it felt rushed in the end (why the hell did you throw me that psychic chick in the last hour? she didn't even get to talk after that), the original characters could and SHOULD have been explored, and there were way too many McGuffins driving the plot, which ended with more than a few holes.

    Posted Mar 11, 2011


General Information

Platform(s): 3DS
Publisher(s): Nintendo
Developer(s): Camelot Software Planning
Genres: Role-Playing
Themes: Fantasy
Release Date: 2010-12-10

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