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Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale (XBLA) Review

May 27, 2011 | Posted by Adam Larck

Title: Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Bedlam Games
Genre: Dungeon Crawler
Players: 1-4
Rated: T for Teen

It has been seven years since the last Dungeons & Dragons game released onto a console.

Now, Atari has brought us Daggerdale, a four-player dungeon crawler available to download now. However, with other games such as Torchlight already available on the system, is Daggerdale worth the time?

The first thing that disappointed me about the game was the character choices. The game only has four choices: a Halfling wizard, elven rogue (the only female choice), human fighter and dwarf cleric. Each one gets a special class ability you use with the RB, but that’s not my problem. My problem is that you get no choice to make characters, design bodies or anything like that. Considering D&D is normally about freedom of choices, I was a bit disappointed here.

I was also a bit disappointed with the use of the rulebook. The game touted that it uses the Fourth Edition rulebook. However, outside of the skills and talents you get, along with various proficiencies you have to learn base on class, you would never know that, as all damage calculations and effect chances are done behind the scenes.

The game has you (and your friends) going through four chapters before finally confronting Rezlus to free Daggerdale. The quests in the game are split into smaller segments, which are nice, but also cause one of my bigger complaints about the game.

The quests have no checkpoints. If you fail a quest towards the end of the line, be prepared to do the entire thing over again. Plus, if you have to leave mid-quest to do something, you better leave your system on or you’ll be starting from the beginning as well.

Honestly, I thought we got past the days where this type of gameplay was accepted. Instead, I would get almost finished with a quest, get called away and save and quit, only to start back from the beginning. The only thing save does is save gold, XP, items and overall progress, not progress in missions.

As far as gameplay goes, it’s the standard dungeon crawler. Kill hordes of enemies, heal, collect loot, quest, level, repeat, etc. etc. The game does nothing to set itself apart here, other than use the D&D name. When going through in the single player, you can normally just go through waves of enemies as long as you have a supply of health potions, but it feels more like grinding then enjoying the game.

Multiplayer is a bit more enjoyable to have friends help out, but has its share of flaws as well. The game scales enemies, but always to the highest common denominator. I went in with a friend a few levels above me, and found enemies that were taking thirds of my health bar away with each hit. A better balance here would have been great.

Another problem we found was the glitches. Some were related to both modes, like walking through textures, enemies randomly disappearing and reappearing and so forth, but the big problem was the multiplayer freezing. Lag is apparent in the game, but when it gets too bad it’ll freeze the player affected. They just see a loading screen, but you’re left with a partner that can’t move and is just stuck there, sometimes not able to move until leaving and reentering the game. This can happen at any time, too, in or out of battle.

The game itself will take players familiar with the genre between 6-8 hours to beat, which, while short for this type of game, is on par with being a downloadable title. There is a freeplay mode to go back through after beating a chapter for XP and loot, but the game never gave me a reason or need to grind.

The graphics in this game are pretty standard. Enemies look identical, and one tunnel looks exactly like one you passed through an hour ago. This got annoying when you had hoards of enemies being summoned by a scout. Sure, the scout has a horn, but when there are 10 of the same enemy type on the screen looking for one horn can be a challenge. The only saving grace here is the motion comic cut-scenes, which look fairly nice for telling the story. They use both subtext and a narrator.

That narrator is also the only person you’ll hear in the game. That’s good, because there’s no gibberish speak, but also helps to make you care even less about the quests and the people giving them. The text also auto-scrolls after a short amount of time, so you better not walk away thinking you have a quick break, or you’ll miss what the quest is.

Pros

  • Plenty of loot to find throughout game.
  • Quests are distinct when they end and start.
  • Has basics of a dungeon crawler down.

    Cons

  • No checkpoints in quests.
  • Game will sometimes glitch or freeze a character in multiplayer.
  • XP sometimes makes no sense on how much you get.

    The 411:

    If you’re playing by yourself, Torchlight still beats this as the must-have XBLA dungeon crawler. There is more to find here in multiplayer, but various glitches and lag issues will push all but the most die-hard fans away. It’s definitely not the best game that the Dungeons and Dragons name has been used for. It’s an interesting premise, but Bedlam Games has a lot of polish to do to make this a contender in the genre.

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    Adam Larck

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