Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale Review

If you aren’t a Dungeons & Dragons fan, you probably aren’t really sure what I mean when I talk about 4th Edition. Basically, it was one of the most major updates to the 30+ year-old tabletop role-playing game that has given life to countless video games. The first game to incorporate the new 4th Edition rules is Atari’s Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale. First released for consoles, it’s now available on PC.

The first thing you’ll do in Daggerdale is choose a character to play. You’ll notice I didn’t say create a character, and that’s because unlike Dungeons & Dragons, Daggerdale has 4 pre-generated characters to choose from. You’ll have no control over their starting statistics, appearance or anything else apart from a name. You can choose a Human Fighter, Elven Rogue, Halfling Wizard, or Dwarven Cleric. If those sound a bit boilerplate, it’s because they are.


Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale (XBox360 [Reviewed], PS3)
Developer: Atari
Publisher: Bedlam Games
Release Date: May 25, 2011
MSRP: $14.99

Once you’ve chosen your pre-generated character, you’ll find yourself hack-and slashing your way through a number of quests. Unfortunately, the quests are pretty uninspiring. Go get an object and bring it back, kill 8 of these, or destroy 6 of those. Adding to the tedium is the fact that you can only accept one quest at a time, condemning you to retrace your steps over and over again. This wouldn’t be as serious a problem if there were more than four areas to quest (but there aren’t).

Combat presents some further problems, as the camera is tied to the movement of the mouse, making targeting an iffy proposition at best with the spotty target lock. Each character has a basic melee attack, a basic ranged attack, and a few special attacks. Specials can be upgraded as you gain levels, representing the sum total of your customization options. Even with these specials, you’ll find yourself mostly clicking like mad to dispatch your foes.

Graphically, the game is just OK. With the power that even average systems have today, it’s simple to make games that devour system resources, but it’s not always advisable, especially for a budget title like Daggerdale. Still, there’s enough going on here that you won’t want to try to run this on your new netbook. Multiple enemies are commonplace, and while the environments aren’t photorealistic, flickering torches and combat effects will tax older systems.

The one place that Daggerdale doesn’t feel like something is missing is loot. There’s a large variety of weapons, armor and potions to acquire, and you can equip your character as you see fit. Probably my favorite thing in Daggerdale is the flaming kopesh I acquired that had a decent enough fire effect and made enemies burst into flames.

Glitches are apparent throughout this console port, as enemies and items fall through floors with regularity, some piece of armor just don’t display, and NPCs will just up and vanish. Console button prompts that were missed during the port remain in places, and the game recommends using an XBox 360 controller to play it. At times, it seems as if Daggerdale is reproaching me for playing with a mouse and keyboard by ignoring my inputs for a few seconds.

I hesitate to call this a glitch, but the save system is like something out of the 1990′s. Every save must be done manually. Turning in a quest or changing zones won’t save your game. I lost over 2 hours of gameplay to this at one point. Even implementing a quicksave button would have been a nice touch that was overloooked.

Granted, it’s kind of hard to make a truly awful hack-and-slash-game, and Daggerdale isn’t that. It’s mediocre, and it’s a poor showing for the 4th Edition D&D rules. It’s 6 hours of forgettable hack-and-slash gameplay that will run you $15 on Steam. If you absolutely, positively HAVE to have the first 4th Edition rules-based game, then Daggerdale is for you. Otherwise, I’d recommend you give it a pass.

Pros:

  • 4th Edition D&D ruleset
  • Good variety of loot

 
Cons:

  • Repetitive, backtracking questlines
  • Only 4 areas to explore
  • Spotty targeting
  • Lots of console remnants
  • Little to no character customization
  • Clunky save system

Score: 50/100

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1 Comment on Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale Review

Jurek Sean

On July 13, 2011 at 1:40 am

Hmmmm, sounds like something I’ll just pick up in a sale.

A bit disappointing.

:(