Heart of Darkness: PlayStation’s Toy Story turns 26

Game news Heart of Darkness: PlayStation’s Toy Story turns 26

At the beginning of July 1998, the PlayStation welcomed a memorable work, considered by many to be an essential classic in its toy library. In the making for years, this Arlesian title – the beginnings of which date back to 1992 – surprised everyone with the quality of its production and its adventure tinged with modernism and nostalgia. That day, 26 years ago, Eric Chahi, the author of the extraordinary Another World, had to let go of a big sigh of relief.

A unique adventure game

Developed by a team of a dozen people, Heart of Darkness chronicles the adventures of Andy, a kid who hates school and prefers to have fun with his four-legged friend, Whisky. One day, while they are at the park to enjoy a solar eclipse, Andy watches helplessly as his dog is kidnapped by a strange vortex. Neither one nor two, he rushes home and seizes his latest inventions (a plasma gun, a colander acting as a helmet, etc.) before climbing into his ship. Propelled through a new dimension, he arrives in a world called Darklands and vows to find his brave Whisky! (yes, said like that, it sounds weird)

PlayStation’s Toy Story?

If Heart of Darkness marked its time, it is above all for its staging and its natural transitions between the game phases and the cutscenes. Considered at the time as the Toy Story of the PlayStation, the title displays animation sequences to die for! Even if the movements are slightly choppy, the quality of the images and dubbing caused a sensation in 1998! Thanks to them, the player is transported into an ultra-immersive world where each screen is an artist’s painting.

Like Another World, the player must pass the obstacles by learning to get rid of all the traps. Based on the principle of “die and retry”, Heart of Darkness is a particularly demanding work (the underwater phases), but which pushes you to surpass yourself as the universe and the characters are endearing. Packed with humor and moments of anthology, the software from Amazing Studio clearly arrived in pain. Repeated several times on behalf of different publishers, it finally reached the bins with a structure that commands respect: more than 2,000 sprites for Andy, Bruce Broughton (renowned composer, notably of the animated film Bernard and Bianca) to the music, 30 minutes of cinematics, 176 scenes… The only downside: 9 phases that can be completed in an afternoon.

Heart of Darkness: PlayStation's Toy Story turns 26

Spectacular and exciting, Heart of Darkness marked its time. Despite the difficulty of its development, this blockbuster with its unique tone has left lasting memories. The game was to be released on a plethora of media (Saturn, 3DO, Amiga CD32, Game Boy Advance, etc.), but in the end it only saw the light of day on PlayStation and PC. It’s been 26 years since it was born, but it continues to resonate with a lot of memories among players.

Did you discover it at the time (or later)?

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