As the title suggests, The Darkest Faerie is part of a larger universe and one that may frighten away parents. While I myself knew nothing about it, I'd hoped it had nothing to do with card battles or monster collection or a lengthy anime or Manga series that I'd have to research. Luckily, Neopets is a wonderful online site for children (and adults) of all ages that feels like a cross between Animal Crossing, Tamagotchi, a MMORPG, and a game site. Bright, colorful and fun, it is a place to waste countless hours trying out everything that can be done from building a house, bartering, playing games, taking care of pets, purchasing interesting items, etc. Seeing the success of Neopets, I suppose that a game was inevitable, but the finished product may not be what Neopets fan were expecting.
In reality, while certain locations, items and characters are common between the online experience and the PS2 game, the console version is more of a Zelda-like adventure/RPG. This is not to say that it won't please fans of Neopets, but this is definitely not an offline port of the online experience. In the Darkest Faerie you will follow the story of Tormund (a sword wielder) and Roberta (a magic user) as they try to save Neopia from the Darkest Faerie out for revenge against Queen Fyora.
The game is played from a third person perspective and follows many of the same trappings as a typical Ocarina of Time clone. The differences here are that the camera, while fully controllable, seems to have a mind of its own and repositions itself in the oddest of places from time to time. Climb a ladder and who knows where it'll be pointing. The game also features context sensitive items like ladders, blocks, etc which don't work so well (and which the camera doesn't help). The fighting is handled poorly (although magic works well) and targeting system would have greatly benefited the tedious proceedings.
Also, while the online game is aimed at anyone looking to waste time having fun, the console version seems clearly aimed at a younger audience. Rated E (10+) due to cartoon violence, the game feels childish enough (in its dialog, quests, etc) that adults will quickly tire of it regardless of their fascination with the online site. This is unfortunate since The Darkest Faerie not only features a large world to adventure in, but one of the best inventory systems ever implemented in a game. Fans of RPGs should pick up this title simply to see how cleverly it handles weapons, armor, health items, magic items and special items in a way that makes them accessible and fun. More games should "borrow" the ideas set forth by this brilliant scheme.
Graphically, The Darkest Faerie features nice cut-scenes and a bright colorful world that also seems a little bland. It doesn't help matters that the radar is useless and you'll find yourself running around in circles from time to time, generally annoyed by the "same-ness" of everything. In the audio department, the music is fitting and while the voice acting is amazingly well done (Jennifer Hale, Olivia D'Abo and Dwight Schultz are part of the actors - so excellence is to be expected) the lines themselves are childish and painful from time to time. It doesn't help that the story is childish, cliched and boring.
Die-hard fans of the online phenomena looking for an extension of the experience will possibly find more than most to appreciate in this game. For all others, you're better of going to the website than trying this game. While the inventory system is brilliant, the camera, fighting and story may be too much for discerning gamers to bear with. Children, however, should prove more forgiving than most.