Sword Coast Legends Review

Eschalon: Book II

Developer:n-Space
Release Date:2015-10-20
Genre:
  • Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay

Campaign

The campaign that comes with Sword Coast Legends revolves around your investigation into why somebody would want to exterminate your guild.  Interesting questions like "Are your enemies right?" are largely ignored, and the storyline relies too much on magical characters who for no particular reason know just where you should travel to next so you can learn something new.  And of course, their directions always lead you to places where you have to fight a bunch of things.

The side quests are limited as well.  Most are of the basic variety where you're asked to kill something or fetch something and then come back.  You rarely get to make any meaningful decisions, other than to accept a quest or not, and what decisions you do make don't change the arc of the storyline one iota.  At best, after finding a bad guy you sometimes get to choose between letting him go (perhaps after accepting some bribe money) or killing him.  But either way, the guy doesn't play any role in the remainder of the game, and so it doesn't make any difference what your judgment is.

Luckily, your companions are better developed.  During each of the game's three acts, you're allowed to have a conversation with them, where you learn more about their backgrounds and motivations.  This isn't up to the standards of the Shadowrun games, but it's not bad, and when you have to make an important decision late in the game, it's clear why your companions lean one way or the other.  Your companions also give you a side quest based on their storyline, and they make some funny comments while you're exploring.

Sound and Graphics

Sword Coast Legends contains both music and voice acting.  The music is competent without being memorable.  The voice actors do a nice job bringing the important NPCs (including all of your companions) to life.  Minor NPCs don't get voice acting at all.

The graphics are less impressive than the sound.  Since casters only get a small palette of spells to work with, you don't see a lot of impressive spell effects during battles.  Numerous items don't get unique icons.  Capes cause all sorts of clipping issues.  And the locations are all drab and boxy (let's call them Neverwinter-like), and they don't do anything to make you want to explore them.  The only place where I saw something nice with the graphics was during character creation.  Instead of selecting a portrait that might not look anything like your character, the game takes a handful of "pictures" of your character using different backgrounds, and then you get to pick the one you like the best.  It's a nice system, and I hope it gets emulated elsewhere.

Technical Issues

I spent roughly 50 hours playing Sword Coast Legends, and I didn't experience any crash bugs or notice anything severely broken during that time.  Normally this would be an excellent thing for a game, but for Sword Coast Legends it means that I didn't like it even while everything was working as intended.  That means I can't hold out much hope for a patch or anything.  This might be as good as the game gets.  Bleah.

Conclusion

Sword Coast Legends was a major disappointment for me.  Developer n-Space completely massacred the Dungeon & Dragons fifth edition ruleset to make their game more action-oriented -- or perhaps more "appealing to the masses" -- but their strategy backfired terribly.  They also built a campaign that could have come out of an RPG 101 factory, which is a waste of time for anybody like me who has graduated on to more advanced coursework.  Their campaign also does little to advertise what their module toolkit might be capable of, or to encourage anybody to explore it further.

That said, Sword Coast Legends is a budget title, and you'll probably notice it on sale a lot in the future.  If I've done my job properly and set your expectations extremely low, then maybe it won't seem horrible if you pick it up for around $5.  But there are better games out there.  All over the place.