Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale Review
Nothing takes me back like a good hack and slasher. When it comes to console iterations, a few notable games that I’ve spent a ton of hours on come to mind, such as Baldur's Gate and Champions of Norrath. Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale takes that same approach but presents it in a convenient downloadable package. Does Daggerdale live up to its D&D name?
The storyline doesn’t break any new ground, taking every fantasy cliché you can think of and throwing it right at you from the very beginning. The dark and very evil Lord Rezlus and his band of Zhentarim build the Tower of Void, which must be destroyed and Rezlus defeated. Furthering the cliché are the four main characters: a Human warrior, Halfling wizard, Elf rogue and Dwarf cleric. The tower just happens to reside right in the middle of the Dwarven mines, which doesn’t make the dwarves all too happy. A quest or two later, you find yourself in their service, scouring every corner of the mines.
Unlike the previously mentioned hack and slashers, behind every sword swing, bow shot, and spell is a dice roll. Obviously these dice rolls aren’t visible, happening behind the scenes as you hack your enemies to death. Daggerdale uses the updated 4th edition D&D rule set. This means your stats as well as every stat attached to weapon and armor go through a calculation that results in damage output or an amount of damage received.
Abilities are mapped to your face buttons, a feature that makes pulling off all your learned skills a breeze. Unfortunately the combat itself is just about as exciting as the dice roll calculations themselves. It’s bland, repetitive, and lacks any real tactics. Sure, you have to rely more on blocking, but not because of strategically trying to outsmart your opponents--your characters' repetitive combat animations leave you open to attack. Also, with only 10 levels to gain (though it does take a while to gain them), there aren’t a lot of ways to experiment with character development. The game does get more fun when playing with friends, but it doesn’t make it any more bearable.
Rounding up this disappointing package is the presentation. The graphics are best described as muddy, the menu interface clunky in its navigation, and the NPCs lack any real detail. Your characters do retain some detail, however, and it's great to immediately see them don a new armor set or wield a new weapon.
The fact that Daggerdale relies heavily on its D&D roots is perhaps its biggest downfall. From the cliché storyline to the uninspired side quests, muddled graphics, and most of all the bland and repetitive combat, Daggerdale is one place that you'll be reluctant to save, let alone care about.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]