Daemonica Review

Eschalon: Book II

Release Date:2006-03-31
  • Adventure,Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Isometric
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay
If you go to Daemonica's official web site, you'll see that the game is described as a (3D interactive mystery) with (thrilling action fights,) (potion-making,) and (quests.) Well, that clears everything up, right? Sometimes you get descriptions like the above when the people marketing the game don't actually know a lot about computer games, and they don't know what words to use to let players know what the game is going to be like. But with Daemonica, it's more a matter that the game is odd. Daemonica is basically an adventure game written using a role-playing game engine, and, as such, it's probably different than anything you've ever played before.

In Daemonica, you take on the role of a man named Nicholas Farepoynt. You have the ability to talk to the dead, and you use that gift to track down the worst sort of killers. At the start of the game, you're called to the small town of Cavorn, where an elderly couple has gone missing, but their bloody clothing has been found. Was the couple murdered? And if so, by whom? And why? It doesn't take long before more people start turning up dead, and others disappear, and still others go mad. Just like in most role-playing games, no matter what simple problem you start with, eventually you're dealing with an ancient evil that wants to take over the world.

Of course, Daemonica isn't really a role-playing game. It looks like a role-playing game because, despite employing a 3D engine, it uses a fixed isometric view, and so it resembles 2D role-playing games like Divine Divinity and Gorasul. It also features some combat, but the combat is very simple -- you click to attack and hit the spacebar to block -- and there are only about ten fights in the entire game.

No, Daemonica is an adventure, and you spend most of your time talking to the people of Cavorn and clicking on things. As an example, at one point the town doctor tells you that his records have been stolen. That allows you to wander around town asking the inhabitants if they've seen the records, but nothing much will happen in the quest until you notice that the field next to the doctor's house has been trampled. At that point you will automatically deduce that somebody has been watching the doctor's house, and when you relay that information to the doctor, you'll have something new to ask the townspeople about.

Really, if you've played role-playing games like Arcanum or Neverwinter Nights, and you remember the murder mysteries in those games, Daemonica uses the same format. You talk to people, you click on something or pick up an object, you talk to more people, and then you repeat. The difference is that the mystery in Daemonica is much longer. The game takes about a dozen hours to complete, which is about right for adventure games but woefully short if you were hoping for more of a role-playing game influence.

Fortunately, while many parts of the game scream (bargain bin,) the storyline is interesting enough to keep you engaged, and your character Nicholas Farepoynt is more intriguing than your average anonymous hero. But with a rather short campaign and simplistic gameplay -- Pirates of the Sword Coast, the most recent Neverwinter Nights premium module, actually has more interesting puzzles -- Daemonica is not a game I'd recommend you rush out and buy. It has an SRP of $30 right now; if you wait until that price drops in half, then you might find Daemonica to be an entertaining diversion some weekend.