Daikatana - Screenshot

One-Hour: John Romero’s Daikatana

Synopsis: I didn’t get a chance to play Daikatana when I was younger so this was my first real experience with it. I believe it came out around the same time as Rise of the Triad so I suspect my time was spent playing RoTT instead (however that was a sheer guess without fact-checking my timeline first).

John Romero was one of the original prodigies of id software, which meant he was heavily involved in Doom and Quake. When he left id (or took a break from the company, I can’t remember the specifics), he created Daikatana, which is why his name is all over it. I’m pretty sure the game uses the Quake II engine which makes sense because that’s what he’d be most familiar with. Unfortunately, a kick-ass game engine and a superstar designer doesn’t necessarily mean the game will be kick-ass as well. The graphics are decent enough but the levels, sound design, and enemy AI are all a bit lackluster. This lines up with everything I’ve heard about the game from other sources as well.

Daikatana honestly starts strong – it has an interesting plot about a mystical sword that can bend the properties of space and time, and as the ancestor of the creator of this legendary sword, you need to get it back. And since you’re clearly a samurai it also means you’ll shoot your way through levels filled with mechanical creatures to do so. Yeah, I lost it around this point as well.

I actually wanted to keep playing to see how things would shake out, but the game kept crashing in the same spot. I eventually said ‘enough is enough’ and threw in the towel. I may revisit it down the road, but at this point after six or seven back-to-back crashes I wasn’t ready to start troubleshooting.

For fun, I went back and fact checked this review to see how many of my guesses were accurate:

  • Daikatana and RoTT actually came out 6 years apart. I have no idea what I was thinking on this one.
  • John left id in 1997 “on good terms” and founded a company called Ion Storm, which is who published Daikatana.
  • Yes, Daikatana uses the Quake II engine.

What I like: The opening plot and story setup sounded interesting.

What I don’t like: Frequent game crashes. Slow loading screens (I suspect these aren’t based on actual behind-the-scenes calculations and take the exact same time as they did when the game came out). Not super engaging at the moment, but it may get better if I could get past the part where the crashes happen.

Would I buy it again?: Steam had this on sale for $1, so I grabbed it at the same time as Tomb Raider. Considering its pedigree and the fact I never got a chance to play it when it came out, I would pick it up again.

Game Details:

Game TypeFirst-Person Shooter
PublisherIon Storm, Eidos Interactive
Year Released2000
Tested PlatformPC
Author: Greg

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