Published on June 1st, 2011 | by Ben Gray


Review: Dungeons and Dragons: Daggerdale

Review: Dungeons and Dragons: Daggerdale Ben Gray

Summary: Ben takes a look at Dungeons and Dragons: Daggerdale, is it any good? read the review to find out!


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There are some games, that when we see the trailers and absorb the hype, we get really excited for, but when you finally get your hands on the finished product, it’s not quite what you expected. This is how I felt with Dungeons and Dragons: Daggerdale, and after playing the game for some time, I’m quite happy to be able to get away from it. You see, there’s getting excited for a game, and it ends up being fairly average, and then there’s getting excited for a game, and it ends up being horrible. The latter applies to Daggerdale. Daggerdale certainly has some positives, but unfortunately there are plenty more negatives to outweigh the scales. The game is set within the Mines of Tethyamar, where an enemy known as Rezlus, who plans on taking over Daggerdale, with an army behind him. Dwarves summon your character to help stop the impending threat. Fair to say, the story doesn’t sound that bad at all, and starts the game with the player in a promising mood. Such a shame though that the story is one of the few positive points that Daggerdale has to offer, as the game goes downhill from the offset – from when you’re given control of your character. So before I go into the gameplay, I’ll start by talking about character customization.

You are fixed with the four characters you are given; so that means you won’t be able to change their facial features and such, but like many role playing titles, you can assign points to different abilities. For every level you’ll get two points to put into powers (which can be used in combat as essentially more powerful attacks that recharge), a point into a Feat and points to put into abilities. This is one of the things Daggerdale does right, however I felt there wasn’t a very wide variety of powers. This isn’t helped by the fact that level progression takes an age; just getting to the second level will require killing quite a few goblins and finishing some quests. Level progression should be quick at first but get slower with each level to slowly ease people into things – not to mention give them the motivation to continue playing the game. Daggerdale is divided into three chapters and whilst the game feels long, it’s only because you’re constantly running into groups of enemies with every corner you turn. Because of the storyline, most of the game is set inside the mines, which quickly become bland and dull to explore, and very little changes with aesthetics with each chapter. The world is irritating to navigate; from the starting point the path splits in two, and because the map is static and you can’t see far ahead, you a forced to make a decision of which path to take based on the direction of the quest arrow on your compass, meaning you spend ages battling your way through an area, only to find you’ve gone the wrong way and you have to walk the long way back – also not helped by the many doors you have to open (assumedly to reduce loading times). It’s a shame because Daggerdale’s engine isn’t that bad and provides some good visuals, but the environments of the game fail to show off the engine’s potential.

The combat feels stiff; attacks make you feel like you’re stuck on the spot and you’re not given the freedom to direct different attacks elsewhere. Blocking also glues you to the floor – you can’t even pivot on the spot to block attacks from behind, which is irritating considering most of the enemies in Daggerdale are encountered in groups. Whilst there’s some variety in the enemies you face, some of the types are consistently annoying to face. Controllers can constantly keep spawning enemies around them; even worse when they spawn higher level enemies. You tend to find yourself drained of health potions until the very last ounce of health, when suddenly enemies start dropping them in the dozens. Sometimes enemy corpses stand upright as if they were alive, and I encountered a fair few goblins that had managed to get themselves stuck in the ground. There is little voice acting in the game outside of cutscenes, with characters which sound like they’re from a Sims game rather than an RPG – muttering noises instead of saying what they should. Speaking of the cutscenes, I found some of them to be unclear and random, for instance, as I’m walking through the mines, it cuts to a cutscene of the path ahead collapsing, except when I return to gameplay, nothing has changed, and I can’t find anything different with the environment around me. Checkpoints only happen when completing quests, so the game relies on you constantly manually saving, otherwise death will result in quite a bit of progress lost. You earn gold in the game (currency) by killing enemies, completing quests, or destroying barrel after barrel to scavenge what you can. The better items in the game seem impossible to buy because of their price tag – it takes ages to earn enough gold, as all most barrels will drop is one or two pieces, with some items costing over 15000 gold. You can see your weapons, but this doesn’t make much difference either. The game offers four player multiplayer which is useful and sometimes needed in the areas where the difficulty soars through the roof, but this suffers from lag and connectivity issues also and there’s no drop in/drop out options either. Dungeons and Dragons: Daggerdale had potential and genuinely looked promising before launch, but the game falls short with bland environments, stiff combat and plenty of glitches. Doesn’t look like I’ll be helping out any dwarves for quite some time.

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  • I personally feel the slow pace and abilities and feats that feel limiting (of course, +1 and +2 damage weapons as well) is very D&D’esque.  It’s very scaled down, don’t expect to critical hit for over 9,000 in this game…

    The combat is easily the most lacking part of the game.  It’s a little stiff and jagged, the best way to describe it is sometimes I feel like I do more damage just auto attacking then trying to land specials while incurring a slight delay for the animation.

    The bosses, are intense.  I really enjoyed them.  (Don’t want to spoil any of it)

    This game is easily the slowest, and roughest, out of all the hack-n-slash RPGs on XBLA, probably even retail.  That being said it still has something to offer; but it may only really appeal to hardcore RPG fans/addicts and people who have played D&D in the past.

    • Ben

      Me not being a fan of Dungeons and Dragons, it was hard to put myself in their shoes. But some of the game’s glitches are inexcusable.

      • Agreed mate.  

        Context sensitive buttons for the doors not appearing… 
        Movement becoming impeded (unknown cause, not from like roots and stuns either >_>) during the heat of battle… 
        Crashes during larger scale battles…
        Textures and geometry completely failing to load when two people use a switch at once…

        And for some poor design decisions:
        The map isn’t scalable or rotatable; in fact it doesn’t even update party members positions…
        Trying to join a game, and load a character without a HDD selected will result in an error and forcing the user to create a character.  Y u no load HDD, then select my character…
        The point in the game where all my abilities and gear is removed and unbound; then given back without being rebound…

        It could have been better sure, but it also could have been a lot worse.  I find we don’t have very many online co-op xbla titles to choose from, especially in regards to RPG, so in that regard I’ll take what I can get and hope the next one is better!

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