Monday, July 4, 2011

Daggerdale Game Review by Zedd

Hello everyone. Fantastical and magical wizard Zedd here. A few weeks ago, I found out about an interesting adaptation of D&D on the Xbox 360 called Dungeons and Dragons: Daggerdale. It claimed to be an accurate recreation of a cult classic dungeon for the 4th edition of D&D. I told Raz about it and, wouldn't you know, I was assigned to check out and review this game (mostly because I'm the only Xbox player amongst our group). So, without any further fuss, here's my opinion about this arcade title on XBLA. Keep in mind that I am far more familiar with the 3.5 version, so if I make any critical mistakes regarding the 4th edition, I deeply apologize.
            You start off as one of four premade classes: a human fighter(worst), an elven rogue(good with others), a dwarven cleric(overpowered), and a halfing wizard(nearly invincible).  Already, one of the vital aspects of D&D, the mixing and matching of various races and talents, is lost here. I believe this decision was made in an attempt to streamline the gameplay for those less familiar with RPG's. After all, the game is a hack and slash, pure and simple. As you begin, a cut scene explains that the four heroes have been called together to defeat a certain cult led by a powerful something-or-other named Rezlus. Apparently, this guy just has a beef with Daggerdale, the outlying lands that is apparently your homeland, and you've been called in to be his therapist. I find it odd that your character spends absolutely no game time in the scenic location of Daggerdale, the stupid place that this game is named after, but whatever. In the tutorial, you find out how to move your character, smash barrels, and attack enemies. Despite common sense dictating that D&D combat would be handled in turn based system, or at least something similar to Final Fantasy XII's ATB Gauge system, your character just swings as fast as the weapon he or she is holding dictates. Whether or not you take damage is barely even determined by your AC. Not once did I ever see some enemy swing and miss when I was close enough; I always took damage. In addition, each level beyond the tutorial just contains the same simple bad guys, in this case goblins, skeletons, and ghouls, with very little in the realm of variety. It is true that there are some different enemies in the final chapter called Dragonborn, but by that point you've slain so many goblins that you don't even care. Just to mock this overwhelming lack of creativity, the designers created an achievement specifically for killing one thousand of the little green monsters.
            Gold, like in traditional games, comes at an incredibly slow pace. However, there are no silver, copper, or platinum pieces anywhere in the game. It's just gold. For the amount of gold you get per monster and per barrel (which there are apparently an infinite supply of with infinite idiots hiding their life savings in them), the items are priced fairly most of the time. I can promise that you won't go through the game with a want of currency.
            Bosses, unfortunately, are a big letdown. The only thing that strikes me as climactic or overwhelming in these battles is the size of your opponents. Their health bars drip down slowly, you constantly guzzle down potions, and the cleric refuses to do his job like in actual D&D, but none of it feels exciting. This is my biggest complaint. It takes a great deal of resources, time, and effort to make a hack and slash game exciting and fun to play the entire way through. A company really has to work hard to make the one button that it makes you push seem appealing enough to do it constantly for several hours, and this company did not pull it off.
The main aspect of D&D that this game actually captured was the absolute necessity of team based play. The solo gameplay is absolutely miserable. You only get to use the one hero you made. No backup. No various damage types. No flanking. Nothing. You're stuck against an entire hoard of bad guys to fight, and you can't even get your 2d6 extra damage for performing sneak attacks. It's pointless. Multiplayer is the only true way to experience this game. Working with people to rise above the quagmire this game throws you in feels rewarding to those who see it all the way through. The designers smartly added a search feature, so that people looking for partners online could easily do so. In this one regard, I applaud them. Getting people together is one of the greatest things D&D does, so not including it would have absolutely ended any chance at success this game had.
Overall, this game is not meant for D&D regulars or people interested in D&D itself. I would also not recommend it for solo players, RPG enthusiasts, achievement hunters, or anyone looking for an original game. Now, if you have a friend or two, and you're tired of the daily grind of Call of Duty, then feel free to give this a try. It's certainly different from the majority of Xbox titles, and you might even enjoy it. However, to anyone interested in getting it, I strongly recommend waiting for a deal of the week offer on it or something. Paying 1200 MP (15 dollars) is simply not worth the experience that this game provides.

TL;DR Graphics are decent, gameplay is monotonous, multiplayer is the only really enjoyable aspect.

Now, on to the DM and Player Tips of the Week.

DM Tip of the Week

There is no such thing as copyright infringement when it comes to your personal D&D sessions.  While it is always more fun and infinitely rewarding to craft your own adventures when DMing, never feel like you cannot borrow dungeons, quests, or even whole campaigns from other sources. In our most recent campaign (the one Raz keeps posting about), I based the main storyline completely off of the first book in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series, Wizard's First Rule. That book is in fact where my character's name sprang from. I did admittedly take some liberties where characters were concerned, and I did add some elements later, like absorbing powers from dragons and Easter egg treasure hunting, but that's the beauty of the game. You can borrow and steal ideas while crafting your own to weave this wonderful tale that you take your group on.

A very well thought out map courtesy of Hreztil

Player Tip of the Week

Find and utilize nearly every loophole you can find in your DM's campaign.  Alright, this tip sounds incredibly destructive and is not meant for use against immature or hostile DMs, but hear me out. Whenever a player is able to find holes in the DM's logic, various things can happen. The first and most obvious is that your party gets through challenges without much strain and can get the treasure/rescue the princess/kill the baker. In addition to this, it also forces your DM to think on his or her feet, altering the story with additional defenses and twists that would not have been there before. By challenging both the players and DM in this way, the game becomes infinitely more entertaining for everyone. Now, I don't mean to go out and specifically learn the force cage and fog spells that drain constitution until the target inside dies. That's just mean. I do mean that you should use that rope that you stole from the hangman's noose to silently kill that guard, thus making sure that the legion that the DM prepared specifically for that one guard's cry for help is rendered useless, allowing you to steal the mystical cinnamon buns and flee the country as traveling circus performers.

Well guys, this is where I leave you. Endos did some crazy thing two weeks back where he asked you guys to submit ideas for his campaign. I'd ask for some as well, but mine is pretty much tight knit at this point. Instead, I'd like to ask you guys for a game review idea that you'd like me to do in relation to D and D. I already have some ideas lined up, but I'd love some feedback and see what you guys wanna hear about.

Yours in Wizardry,

P.S.- No centipedes.


  1. I'd be happy to play your crappy game with you.

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