The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav review

The Good:

Enchanting hand-drawn artwork; dark fantasy atmosphere sucks you in; generally entertaining puzzles; satisfying length.

The Bad:

Dull main characters; lifeless animation; uninspired voice acting.

Our Verdict:

Chains of Satinav boasts incredible artwork and atmosphere, though it’s populated by weak characters that spoil some of the appeal.

Although The Dark Eye is apparently the most successful role-playing game in Germany, I confess to having never heard of it until recently. There have been several video game adaptations of the pen-and-paper series over the years, but Chains of Satinav marks the franchise's first venture into the adventure genre. Coming from Daedalic Entertainment, it's no surprise that the wonderfully atmospheric artwork is easily the best part of the game. The dull main characters and lacklustre voice acting quickly threaten to bog down the experience, but fortunately the gameplay and fantasy setting hold up over the course of a lengthy, substantial adventure, with some fun puzzles and a dark story full of intrigue and death.

Players take the role of Geron, a scruffy young bird catcher from the kingdom of Andergast. Since childhood, the townsfolk have regarded him as a source of bad luck, as he was foretold to bring doom by an evil prophet called The Seer just prior to his execution. Years after the prophecy, Geron sees a chance to prove himself by getting rid of a flock of hostile crows that have taken camp in one of the king's castle chambers, little realising that the birds represent more than meets the eye. Soon some of the heroes responsible for originally capturing The Seer are killed, spreading fear that the mystic man has somehow returned. Geron stumbles into the centre of all the ensuing trouble, where he's tasked with finding the only fairy who can play a Magic Harp powerful enough to cause Andergast to perish. But if rumours are true, the revived Seer is seeking the fairy as well, intending to force her to play the harp against her will.

I found myself bored for the first half hour or so in a slow start that sees you uncovering oak leaves for a competition that yields an audience with the king, but the game picks up the pace when an unexpected tragedy strikes and creepy figures begin their hunt for the fairy named Nuri. When Geron meets Nuri outside of Andergast, he wrestles with his conscience about how best to protect the kingdom, and ultimately rejects his mentor's instructions. Instead, he becomes determined to protect her from the evil chasing them and return her to the fairy land from whence she came. But with the wicked creatures closing in around them, it’s a race against time for Geron and Nuri.

The story is suitably grand, but it's let down by the characters leading the way. Geron is the definition of bland, with few characteristics that allow you to connect with him. Displaying neither the appropriate grief nor humour when circumstances dictate, the lack of genuine emotion creates a divide between player and protagonist. On the other side is Nuri, a woefully undeveloped character who frustratingly acts like a toddler throughout the whole game. It’s cute at first, like when she insists Geron create an imaginary friend from the forest, but over time her relentless childishness wears thin. I rolled my eyes when she instantly touched something dangerous after being explicitly told not to do so due to the potentially fatal consequences. An underlying love burgeons between Geron and Nuri, but the romantic element seems shoehorned in and isn't convincing. The two protagonists meet many other people and creatures along the way, but there isn’t much time spent with any of them. There’s the despondent knight who takes a keen eye to Nuri, a merciless merchant named Harm with a deadly skin rash, a talking raven who follows you around and a cheeky green imp who likes to wind you up.

Compounding the weak characterisation is voice acting that is best described as uninspired across the board. It’s not grating by any means, but it's often done in the same tone, and there is heaps of room for improvement in conveying raw emotion convincingly. Some secondary characters are hard to vocally distinguish from one another and most lines are spoken with little appreciation for what is actually being said. And there’s a lot of dialogue to be heard. The English translation from the original German is smooth, but conversations have a tendency to get bogged down with overlong exposition and fantasy jargon which can become boring after a while – when it drags, it drags. At those times I began to zone out and wish I could just get back to playing the game.

Geron’s journey sees him visit a smuggler’s ship, mingle in a bath house and venture through a fairy portal. The latter is easily the most fantastical location, being home to an amusingly misunderstood one-eyed ‘monster’ and a peacock that uses his giant plumage to tell the time, but there is a hint of the extraordinary everywhere you go in the people you meet and the stories they tell. Often your aim is to simply figure out how to move on from your current location, whether escaping danger or travelling elsewhere to meet someone. This means that a lot of the game's scenarios are spread out across only a couple of scenes each.

The tight linearity prevents the game from being very challenging, but nor is it a cakewalk. Excluding one particular puzzle relating numbers and rope positions that baffled me for a while, you should never find yourself stuck for too long, which helps keep the pace moving. Unbeknownst to others, Geron possesses a power to break vulnerable objects. As it turns out, Nuri is the yin to his yang, as she can put things back together. These powers are limited in their ability, however, so they're not overused in puzzle solving.

Continued on the next page...

AD The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav can be purchased at:
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Game Info

The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav

Mac, PC


Daedalic Entertainment

Game Page »

Digital June 22 2012 Deep Silver

Where To Buy

The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav

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User Score

Average based on 51 ratings

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User Reviews

Posted by Houie on Dec 3, 2013

Excellent puzzles and story is very thought provoking. Unparalleled graphical detail.

(20 hours) This game has some of the most detailed graphics I have ever seen in hand drawn gaming. The puzzles are also some of the most... Read the review »

Posted by diego on May 17, 2013

Excels later on

I never thought I'd say this but the weakest part of this game is on the technical side - "casual" animation just doesn't bode well with the... Read the review »

Posted by Mazen on Jul 3, 2012

Awesome Game

I agree with everyone here who said this review is a bit harsh. I think this game is a job well done. Animation, voice acting and main... Read the review »

Posted by Advie on Jun 25, 2012

Daedalic follows the steps of Sierra (15 years Later)

The Story is an Absolute Fairy Tale that takes the Hero from his Doubts of being a bad Omen into Discovering the good of himself, which... Read the review »

Showing 3 of 27

About the Author
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Joe Keeley
Staff Writer
Also check out...

Distraint review



Schneckchen ^.^ Schneckchen ^.^
Jun 26, 2012

Kind of an unfair review in my opinion… at least considering the fact that Resonance has 4.5 stars. This game deserves at least the same score. Probably my favorite adventure since Lost Horizon.

Iznogood Iznogood
Jun 27, 2012

I agree with Schneckchen, 3.5 stars is a very harsh rating for this game. Especially considering the ratings given recently of far far inferior games.
(Yesterday 4 stars, The Walking Dead 4.5 stars and Captain Morgane 3.5 stars)

IMO this is by far the best release this year, only rivaled by Resonance, and i will recomend it to everyone.

The story is excelent, in fact one of the best in a long time.
The Puzzles are logical and well integrated into the game.
The Graphics is beautiful.
The Voice acting is excelent.
Ok the animations could have been better, but it is not really a big issue.

And as for Nuri’s personality, which mr. Keeley aperantly found frustrating, i found it to be one the charms of the game, afterall she is a fairy not a human, and the way she acts is not far from how fairies traditionally are described.

marcd2011 marcd2011
Jun 27, 2012

3.5 feels harsh to me as well. I thought this was one of the best adventure games i’ve played in the past decade, with for once an interesting and not convoluted plot, logical puzzles, beautiful graphics and great voice acting, especially Nuri, who was simply adorable. We’ve been truly spoiled this month with this and Resonance both coming out, and for me it’s hard to pick which one of them is better as they both take a different approach and excel at what they do. The only downside to Chains is the sometimes poor animation and a slightly abrupt ending, although unlike so many games it doesn’t leave lots of unanswered questions that you need a sequel to find out the answers to.

Schneckchen ^.^ Schneckchen ^.^
Jun 27, 2012

Just to add… I do completely agree with Keeley about Nuri’s frustrating behavior. More than once I wished I could have just left her to die and save everyone a lot of trouble.

However, I think the animations are some of the better ones I’ve seen. For me, they are actually a Pro. At least from the point that everything is actually animated.

For example, when you throw a net over something and pull it towards you, you actually see the character do just that. In most other games, the character would just make a generic 2 frame hand gesture and that’d be it. So again, a bit unfair i think.

Phod Phod
Jun 27, 2012

Is this available anywhere but Adventure Shop?

Jackal Jackal
Jun 27, 2012

Steam and GamersGate as well.

Advie Advie
Jun 27, 2012

about the the case of the individual ratings of every one of the (respected)  AG Staff for the Game’s reviews…; i find this an issue that needs to be sorted out ...  what i see that the ratings of Games here at AG are always referred to as OUR’S (AG’s Rating) though the reviews and their ratings made by individuals and not under the supervision of a single source.

so that points to an obvious issue that states ; “there is no theory or a certain vision for Rating here”, and that is why there always a big hassle (from us, members) around each one.
(who rated Captain Margane with 3.5 was someone else than the one who rated The Dark Eye…etc) , which smashes the whole Idea about that there is an AG’s Standard for rating games ................

i am sorry to bring up this issue here,  in case no one noticed where do all those repetitive hassles around every single game’s rating come from…Please accept my apology (Mr.Jack) if you find this irrelative! (here) .

Jun 27, 2012

I’m actually loving it as well, it has to be one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played and I also love the voice acting, can’t understand why people are complaining about it, gets 5 stars from me

Phod Phod
Jun 27, 2012

Is this game in 16x9? Sorry just feel like I always have to question after Whispered World.

tsampikos tsampikos
Jun 28, 2012

The game is also available in the shop of Just Adventure. It is a good shop with many games.

Oscar Oscar
Jun 28, 2012

Good review. I think 3.5 is a generous score. It’s an enjoyable game, with great graphics, but not much more than that. But in the end, scores don’t really matter, reviews do.

Jun 29, 2012

Phod: Yes it is full 16x9 this time.

Export Export
Jun 29, 2012

Looks really good. It’s a shame the voice acting is so bad - I just heard it in the trailer on Steam and it’s so corny and amateurish it sounds like a parody - but everything else about it is really appealing to me. Oh, apart from the name; Chains of Satnav is all I see when I look at it.

inflikkt inflikkt
Jun 30, 2012

this seems low to me too. deserves at least 4 stars.. although i have only played the very beginning, the graphics and feel it has are incredible.  the artwork alone is the best ive seen in awhile and i dont find the acting horrible, at least not yet. either way im really loving this world and i think this is probably the best thing to come out in awhile.

MoonBird MoonBird
Jul 1, 2012

My mouse cursor is REALLY buggy in this game. Moves like 5cm at a time… Impossible to play!

Export Export
Jul 2, 2012

@MoonBird: Is there an option somewhere for “hardware mouse”? Turn it on or off, whatever it isn’t at the moment.

Anyway,  I saw the Quick Look for this on Giant Bomb. Man, the dialogue is clunky as hell, actually feeling like people are having two different conversations at the same time. Every character seems insanely annoying, and either like they’re on drugs or want the whole world to die.

The character art is also far inferior to the lovely BG art, and at one point in particular, the fairy girl’s legs are quite seriously coming out of her side as she sits down. As one of the commentators says “You shouldn’t be able to see someone’s navel and their ass at the same time”. Check it out; I find their Quick Looks are better than reviews since you see an unedited, objective sample of someone actually playing the game.

ADan ADan
Jul 2, 2012

Well, Export, that’s pen and paper role play writing for you…

I don’t agree that the quick look is particularly objective. I see (or rather listen to) two guys who don’t really seem to be used to playing adventures expressing their frustration with the genre as a whole most of the time (and clicking frantically wether it may make sense or not).
On other occasions they do have one or the other warranted point of critique and they are quite funny in bringing those points across.

I did enjoy the quick look (laughing out loud on occasion) and I recommend checking out the end of the whole thing.

Adventure Adventure
Jul 2, 2012

Good game, fantastic graphics (in widescreen no less) and solid inventory puzzles that manage to stay logical and not get tedious.

Story is quite literally a fairy tale, not the most interesting story ever but it takes you through some very nice settings and the ending was great. Dialogue is however pretty average, possibly because of a poor English translation.

Voice acting is atrocious. The main actor whines through the entire game and the supporting cast ranges from sleep-inducing to distractingly awful. This is something Daedalic need to work on for future releases, I’m not saying they should get A-list voice talent but at least try to find someone whose voice won’t make you want to brutally murder the main character whenever he pipes up. The Whispered World had the same problem.

Animations during some cutscenes are a bit weird and stilted but it’s not distracting and again the graphics make up for it.

If you can see past these issues you’ll be enjoying a pretty,  well-constructed game with classic point & click adventure gameplay. Looking forward to future releases from this developer.

MoonBird MoonBird
Jul 3, 2012

@Export: No, there’s not any options for that. Although I noticed, that playing in the windows-mode the problem doesn’t exist. And as the full screen resolution cannot be changed…. well…  I guess I have to go with the windowed mode.

Edit: Oh man… even that didn’t help. It started to slow down even with windows-mode. Argh. This game is so nice, but technically so bad that it is almost impossible to play.

Export Export
Jul 4, 2012

The only other thing that springs to mind is that your graphics card settings might be set to force v-sync in all games. I guess you could check those out and see if there’s anything that’s being forced for all games and turn it off. I had issues with Baldur’s Gate 2 because of forced anti-aliasing.

MoonBird MoonBird
Jul 7, 2012

I don’t have the slightest need to whine about voice-acting (unlike almost everybody here) - but I really wonder why no-one else complains about the game being technically one huge heap of foul-smelling piece of poop. It is programmed and coded so badly, that even my friend said he could do better.

Schneckchen ^.^ Schneckchen ^.^
Jul 7, 2012

@MoonBird: It looks like several people are having that problem according to the official forums… sadly there doesn’t seem to be a fix for it yet though. Maybe keep an eye on them and see if someone comes up with one.

inflikkt inflikkt
Jul 7, 2012

i find it interesting people are saying the dialogue in this is extremely annoying but other people are praising the whispered world. (although maybe for other reasons, graphics.. etc).

to me, the whispered world was entirely UNPLAYABLE because of irritating voice acting. there is nothing so annoying to me in this game.

MoonBird MoonBird
Jul 10, 2012

I tested the game at my brother’s computer. It runned much more smoothly there. Then I did something so obvious, that I’m almost angry to myself I didn’t realize to do immediately when I faced this problem; I updated my display drivers - and guess what - Problem solved. (old drivers were from 2009 - well, no wonder they were buggy)

Jul 11, 2012

Being an long time The Dark Eye fan I had to pick up this title and played it in German. 3.5 Stars seems quite generous- while there is nothing obviously wrong with the title (except for the bad voice acting) there is also nothing really great about it. “Book of Unwritten Tales” for example made me want to come back to solve “just one more puzzle”. With Chains of Satinav on the other hand I had to force myself to continue to play in order to find out how the story ends.

The puzzles are mostly logical though always feel forced, typical example: crows are attacking everything in sight yet the only thing that is good enough as bait is a flag which requires combining 5 items- those are some very picky crows (or lazy developers).

However, my main gripe is that this is a very generic fantasy story which apparently had “The Dark Eye” title slapped on late in the development cycle. If you know Drakensang or Realms of Arkania then this title will not feel familiar at all since all the developers did was borrow a few location names.

gray pierce gray pierce
Jul 18, 2012

I absolutely adore this game. Yes the characters aren’t great but the story is solid and develops quite brilliantly, the mood and feel of the game is very charming in a high adventure sort of way, the graphics are amazing, the music score is one of the best I heard in a long time and the puzzles mostly range from fun to brilliant. Plus the length is very good. It took me a whopping four days to finish this game two of which I played full time. The only major quibble I have is the fairy world segment which stylistically was such a huge break from the rest of the game and wasn’t very well developed the way Aventuria was. Also I hated the puzzles in that segment which to me seemed completely illogical. But otherwise I loved it and am pretty sure I’ll replay it soon enough. It’s not perfect but it’s good enough to gain a place in my heart.

SamuelGordon SamuelGordon
Jul 28, 2012

Just finished the game and pretty much agree with the reviewer.

The bad =

- The stiff animations and choppy movements are horrific.
- Three times i heard german voices instead of english ones, fire your “testers”:p
-  Disappointing Fairy aspect and interaction with supernatural beings (or other races : orcs)
- Bad abrupt ending, they should make a rule that ending has to be atleast one 5-10 minutes of dialogue,footage and a sort of conclusion.i mean goddamn i just spent many hours in a semi interesting story..i expect some kind of rewardXD
- Hardly any magic, knights,battles, i guess it costs too much

The Good

- Great puzzles, some made me even think. Not that hard and not that annoying either.
- Music and voice acting was good. I especially loved the Raven (Kraaagh!)
-Lovely atmospheres, especially towards the’ll see what i’m talking about:)

All in all a good game, def worth getting. I enjoyed the puzzles and i hated the abrupt ending.

Jul 30, 2012

The review score is way too low. This is easily a 4* or 4.5* game.

I thought the animations were remarkable, item interaction was fully drawn for all the variations of movement rather than just a generic set of frames giving the whole thing the feel of a moving storybook or classic d&d fantasy art come to life They are a little stiff but each frame is incredibly detailed and evocative. The shallow characterizations were just fine and fitting with the fairy tale vibe of the story.

It’s oneof the best adventure games I’ve played in quite some time, and the puzzles were quite good too. If I had any complaint it’d be the ending which was quite abrupt,. I really really like this game.

emric emric
Feb 8, 2013

For me, this review gets it completely right! Love your work Joe Smile

Aug 1, 2013

The reason there’s so much contradiction over the voice acting is the actors are good, the casting is good, but the directing is terrible. Almost every line has the wrong emphasis. It’s not unbearable, though, like the wrong casting would be.