Review: Conan: The Dark Axe

In 2002 TDK Director Tom Felde announced that they would create a brand new 3D engine for Conan. His words: "With a specially developed Conan 3D Engine allowing the creation of huge, detailed scenarios with unique atmospheres of intense light and shadow effects, we believe that Conan the game will not only satisfy the high expectation of Conan fans but gamers alike".


Very promising words, especially for a company that aren't exactly veterans in the gaming business. But Slovak developers Cauldron had plenty of time to come up with a respectable game, so let's find out if they could make Felde's words, word.

Conan the barbarian:

Conan is a action hack 'n slash adventure game in which the story of the movie(s) is/are told. For those of you who never heard of the picture, Conan was a very popular fantasy-adventure movie in the 80's with lots of sword fighting and bloodshed, it also made the career of our very own republican muscle head, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In short the story; Conan comes back from an adventure and discovers that his people are wiped out by an evil tribe. Thirsty for revenge his tries to track down and do the same to them, on his own of course.


Starting out in the cold snowy mountains you'll basically have to fight your way out of certain areas and situations, encountering all sorts of beings and locals. The environments are diverse, from the cold mountains to dark caves to harbor towns. They made good usage of lighting effects though the environments as well as character models aren't overloaded with highly detailed textures, nevertheless it looks reasonable. By the way, the main character Conan doesn't look one bit like Arnie, more like a Russian ex-KGB agent with a wig.


Father's sword:

It won't take long before you will notice how stiff, slow and basic the controls are. Conan can move around and jump a little, and throw a couple of attacks at an enemy which can be combined with a simple button combination. With each enemy killed you can earn points, with these you can 'purchase' new moves or give learned moves more strength.

Though these RPG features should give the gameplay a bit more depth, most of the moves all look alike even though you can switch between swords and axes. It just won't give you the urge to play further so you can find out what these new moves are all about.


The pace of the game is slow also because beating up enemies takes too long and gets repetitive really quick and the predictable and sloppy AI is partly to blame. There is hardly any diversity in this 'action adventure'; the few puzzle elements are solved before you even realise it is one and I haven't found any side quests whatsoever.

Final say:

Conan falls short in almost every category and if the atmospheric soundtrack is the best element of the game then you know that something is wrong. You got to ask yourself what Cauldron exactly wanted out if this game, because the end result is pretty bad.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Conan, the game, is even more dated than the movie.

  • Gameplay2
  • Playability3
  • Visuals4
  • Audio4
  • Lifespan2
Final Score



Sound effects


Clunky controls
Lacks originality
No depth

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