Xbox

Dungeons and Dragons: Daggerdale Review

Dungeons and Dragons Daggerdale LogoDungeons and Dragons: Daggerdale is the latest in a long line of mediocre video games based on the classic pen and paper role playing franchise. This dungeon-crawling action RPG is weighed down by tedious, repetitive gameplay and a number of presentation problems.

The premise of Dungeons and Dragons: Daggerdale is that Rezlus, servant of Bane has taken over The Tower of the Void and plans to destroy the land of Daggerdale. The stories in this type of game don’t usually add much to the experience and this game is no different. Read More...

The story of Dungeons and Dragons: Daggerdale is made further irrelevant because of a lacklustre presentation. A couple of cutscenes are presented in a graphic novel style with full voice overs, however most of the story it told through silent, blocky in-game character models that look like and act they were created in the early days of the PlayStation 2.

The rest of the game unfortunately is not much prettier. Washed out muddy colours, generic and repetitive enemy design and blurry textures are accompanied by severe screen tearing, pop in and frame rate problems.

The only positive thing I can say about the look of Dungeons and Dragons: Daggerdale is that equipment changes appear on your character, along with some decent visual flourishes that denote status effects or equipment traits.

Sound design in the game is also rather poor. The sound level is noticeably muted, music is almost non-existent and the sound effects are weak.

Dark and Muddy Graphics are Coupled with Shoddy PerformanceDark and Muddy Graphics are Coupled with Shoddy Performance

Most fans of action RPGs would probably agree that collecting loot and upgrading your equipment is a big part of the fun. This eventually becomes the case in this game, but I was halfway through the five to six hour campaign before I actually started seeing items of interest appear. While there is a good variety of weapons and armour, complete with individual stats and traits, there is no weapon customization to speak of.

There is also little character customization to be had in Dungeons and Dragons: Daggerdale. At the beginning of the game you can chose one of four preset classes; human fighter, dwarven cleric, halfling wizard and elven rogue, the lone female option. Skills--each with three levels--and traits are unlocked in order based on your level and follow a linear progression. There is no option to re-class your character or take on a second class.

You can map up to seven actions, skills or items to the face buttons, with the left trigger used to swap skill sets. The rest of the controller’s buttons are also used, with the camera mapped to both the d-pad and right analogue stick.

Being comfortable with your control setup is important, because you will essentially be mashing your attack and skill buttons for the duration of the game. There is little to no strategy involved in combat, regardless of which class you choose.

It is not uncommon for action RPGs to boil down to a formula of clearing out a room of enemies and moving on, in Dungeons and Dragons: Daggerdale it becomes extraordinarily tedious. The quest structure has you backtrack through each dungeon several times, facing groups of enemies that respawn in the exact same numbers and locations every time you pass through an area.

Enemies scale in level as you advance through the game, but I constantly felt over levelled which made the whole thing feel too easy and sucked away what little fun that was to be had with the combat entirely. I knew what was coming around every corner and which attack or skill was effective.

One of Just a Few Boss EncountersOne of Just a Few Boss Encounters

The campaign is broken into four chapters, each containing several quests and side quests, though the last chapter is but a surprisingly short boss fight. Quests invariably entail making your way to a location and destroying a group of enemies or structures. There is no checkpoint system during missions, so if you die or fail, you are forced to start the quest from the beginning, many of which are 10-20 minutes long.

Once you complete the campaign, you will find your character back in the game’s first dungeon with nothing to do but beat up on the same hordes of enemies you already dispatched a dozen times and max out your character at level ten.

You can also play the campaign with up to three others locally or via Xbox LIVE. Players are held within about half of a screen of each other by an invisible tether and can revive each other if they fall. Unfortunately, the game’s already shaky performance takes a big hit in multiplayer.

With action RPG titles like Torchlight, Dungeon Siege III and even Deathspank available on the Xbox 360, it’s hard to make a case for Dungeons and Dragons: Daggerdale for anyone but the most ardent and patient fans of the franchise. The short, yet tedious campaign, substandard presentation and performance and lack of customization options made it hard for me to find any real pleasure in playing this game.

Positives:

+ Local and Online Co-Op
+ Collecting Loot can be Fun

Negatives:

- Substandard Presentation: Ugly Graphics, Poor Sound Design
- Performance Problems: Screen Tearing, Texture Pop-In, Cliping, Buggy Enemies and Choppy Frame Rate.
- Shallow, Tedious and Repetitive Gameplay
- Enemies Respawn Forever in the Same Spots

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Game Forward Score: 2/5

Brian J. Papineau > Game Forward

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Dungeons and Dragons: Daggerdale (Xbox LIVE Arcade) Quick Facts:

Genre: Role-Playing / Action
Developer: Bedlam Games
Publisher: Atari
Release Date: May 25, 2011
Price: 1200 Microsoft Points ($15 USD)
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)