Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360Released:
May 2011 (Windows, Xbox, PlayStation [NA]), July 2011 (PlayStation [EU])Version Used In Review:
Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale (from now on just Daggerdale) is action RPC, based on the Forgotten Realms. It uses the latest edition of the ruleset, more specifically 4th Edition. Now, I'm not too familiar with that edition, the changes made by Wizards of the Coast after 3.5 Edition just felt too simplified to my taste, especially the direction of MMO system. While I haven't played any Pen n' Paper games with 4th Edition rules, I have partially read the basic rulebooks, thanks to friend of mine who borrowed those to me. This means I have some knowledge of the rule system used in Daggerdale.
While I will cover all the aspect in more detail, I must confess something; my initial reaction to Daggerdale, which I stated in another thread
, was plain wrong. First hour or so completely fooled me and thus I'm taking the words I have said back. This game is just terrible. Plain and simple. But, before giving out the score, lets get down to details first.
Finally, there will be screenshots attached in this review. Since I wasn't able to upload those image to GameBanshee, I will use Photobucket instead. Also, some of the images are somewhat large in size so I'm only going to include the links in review. If you want to see the image you must follow the links.Graphics
Daggerdale was released at summer of 2011. From the Wikipedia I also discovered that the development began somewhere around March 2010. Honestly, it's really hard to believe Daggerdale is relatively so new. At best the game graphics are mediocre, most of the time plain ugly. Cubic models, lack of details and all the glitches it has aren't something one would accept from a game that is officially supported by Wizards of the Coast and published by Atari. Yes, Bedlams Games can be considered as indie studio, though it was formed by professionals from studios like Rockstar, EA and Ubisoft and it was acquired by BitHeads in January 2011, well before the release of Daggerdale. All these facts and, based on several sources, the claim of doing AAA quality games, I just can't see this game as indie game, which makes the quality of graphics (and nearly everything else) unacceptable.
Now, cubic look and lack of details are things I could live with. After all, I'm not the kind of person who dismiss the game if it doesn't look beautiful. But with so many problems and glitches the game has I can't but wonder why the developers thought this game was in state good enough to be released? First of all, some textures fail to load completely. It feels like some of the textures were completely missing and even installing the game again didn't help. On top of that, the same graphics failed to load with every character, which means the problem wasn't in my end.Example screenshot
This problem also occurs with certain armors as well, which actually forced me to decide between equipping better armor and continuously seeing my character with missing textures. How come the developers missed something so obvious as that?Example screenshot
Secondly, the amount of texture clipping is way above the acceptable level. Enemies, objects, you name it. The longer I played the game, the more irritating it was.
There were also several smaller problems with graphics; skill buttons didn't always play the recharging animation correctly, which made it impossible to determine when the specific skill could be used again. Sometimes, especially when the game forced the items and skills to become unequipped, the images of hotkeys weren't updated properly. Also, sometimes the screen was cluttered by things that the game failed to remove; target circles of NPC after the quest was completed and the NPC disappeared, health bars of enemies still appearing after that enemy was killed and so on. Sometimes the fallen enemies were even left standing where they were, making it annoying to determine the potential threats in bigger fights.
What about the animations? Basically the animations are smooth. Unfortunately there are so many cases when words "smooth" and "animation" can't be used in same sentence. First of all, enemies which have been knocked to ground have the habit of being transported to standing position instantly the animation should be played. This problem extends to other animations as well; animation of receiving a hit doesn't always take place, the enemies don't fall down after being killed and so on. In worst cases the glitch even makes the whole character to disappear. Such problem occurred several times especially during the final fight, more specifically the final QTE (Quick Time Event) section, when my character was completely invisible.
Finally, the cinematics. There are two types of cinematics; first type uses the game engine to display short series of events or actions of character(s) while the second type uses separately drawn pictures with small effects to tell the story. The second type occurs rarely, I remember seeing it only four times in whole campaign. These cutscenes are also the only moments when you can experience some real voice acting. While these cutscenes are well made, the lack of actual "motion" lowers the quality somewhat. Sure, the images used are well made, but as one cutscene contains five or six different pictures at most, there is really nothing to see after the first time.
Now, about the first type of cinematic. First of all, all the graphical problems which occur during the game also occur during the cinematic. Secondly, the texture quality is mostly awful, screaming for the option to skip them, which doesn't exists. Thirdly, the transition between the actual game and the cutscene is implemented horribly. For example, if completing a quest is followed by cutscene, the game first returns to normal view from conversation screen, after which the screen turns black and, after two or more seconds, the cutscene is played. After the cutscene the screen turns black again for few seconds, after which the game returns to normal view. Now, the same transition is done every time. For example, if the dialogue is followed by cutscene, which is followed by another dialogue, followed by SECOND cutscene, every transition is taken through normal game view. Really annoying feature. Finally, nearly every cutscene using the game engine is actually bad regarding the content. A good example of this is when you get attacked by golem at the beginning of the game; the video shows the golem rushing towards you, jumping and trying to kill you with aerial attack, an attack you evade barely by running away. First issue I had with that example is the aerial attack. Really, a huge golem made of stone leaps ten meters up in the air? And was it really necessary to implement the slow motion moment to the leap? And finally, why did my character was standing still during the whole video, only moving right before the golem managed to hit? Seriously, this is perhaps one of the most stupid videos I have seen in a long time.
Finally, none of the cutscenes, regardless the type, can be skipped. Since most of them are plain boring and some are even rather long, I can't but feel that the developers wanted artificially increase the length of Daggerdale. Even the video displaying the credits at the end of the game can't be skipped, which is just absurd thing.