Xbox Live Arcade Title.
Co-op: 2-4 Players
We haven’t seen a Dungeons & Dragons game on consoles since 2004, so it’s with held breath that Daggerdale steps into the light of Xbox Live Arcade. Arriving in the form of a hack ‘n’ slash dungeon-crawling and looting title that costs 1200MSP, this is a tale not of an epic fight, but more of a game struggling through glitches and bugs to try to deliver some decent fun.
The storyline is simple enough: you are to stop the evil Rezlus, who worships the dark god Bane, by venturing through dungeons inside a large mountain where you’ll help out the dwarves, free some prisoners and face down the evil lord. It’s all pretty standard fantasy fare and there is little in the way of twists or turns during the story which is told either by some beautiful hand-drawn style custscenes, or by far less beautiful text only moments where a face made of plasticine makes grunting sounds.
At the start you’ll be greeted by a screen that presents four different classes of hero from which you must choose one: warrion, rogue, mage and cleric. The choices are exactly what you’d expect, and each comes with a unique power/ability such as the Warrior being able to block and the Cleric being able to heal. Each class also has different stats and access to different upgradeable abilities. These upgradable abilities are actually fairly shallow with only a few things to choose between and a level cap of ten for your character. Those looking for a deep RPG filled with plenty of customisation should really stop reading.
Get out into the world and you’ll be greeted by competent gameplay at first; combat is a basic affair with one button each for ranged and melee attacks. This isn’t a game that demands strategic gameplay during battles, instead it just asks you to hammer the attack keys and to keep drinking health potions. With little in the way of special abilities at your disposal and enemies proving fairly challenging combat feels rewarding, but as you progress through the game and earn more abilities the standard attack becomes next to useless as abilities recharge so quickly and do so much damage that using anything else feels pointless. Opponents don’t become harder to beat in combat, there is simply more of them to deal with leading to combat feeling tedious, especially later in the game as fights are thrown at you seemingly every few steps.
Loot helps save the game though. Kill an enemy or break open a barrel and gold is your reward along with the possibility of some great new gear. Those that love to collect loot will be fairly happy here – there’s a large amount of weapons and armour to be found and hoarded , each with varying stats and bonuses.
If you can distract yourself from the shiny loot for long enough you’ll need to complete quests to progress through the game. Sadly these fail to excite. They usually all fall into the basic “go here, kill/collect this” category, with only a few offering anything else to do. They also offer little excitement with each one usually asking you to fight through a few groups of the same enemies you always fight with no real exciting moments or anything that stands out. The side quests don’t offer anything more, either. The rewards for the quests, both main and side, also feel rather lowly with small amounts of gold handed out for their completion. At one point a side-quest even promised a sword upon completion, but said weapon was never actually received. The final quest in the game culminates in what should have been a fantastic boss-fight, and yet the fight feels bland, tiresome and dull to playthrough.
The co-op does add a big chunk of appeal to the game. You and three friends can get together to slay your way through the dungeon. Sadly it does not use a drop-in drop-out system, but the joy of having friends to help you out overrides such thoughts. Only one of each character class can be present in the game to try to keep things balanced. There is a big problem during online play, however; non-host players will often find themselves looking at loading screens during battles while their character remains tangible in the game world, meaning when the game finally catches up they’ll probably be dead anyway.
Finally, Daggerdale is plagued by glitches and bugs. The Warriors block ability will often see your character freeze up mid-combat. Other things include characters floating across the ground, players and enemies able to walk through pillars, dead enemies standing on the battlefield and live ones often freezing up. At other points in the game I found my abilities removed or equipment disappearing. Occasionally the ability mapping would fail to work and delete already mapped abilities. Plus many more bugs and problems.
Daggerdale could have been fantastic – the ideas are certainly there. But it feels more like a game released alongside its last console outing in 2004. The gameplay feels stale, the combat clunky, the quests repetitive and dull, and there are an astonishing amount of problems within the game. It simply feels unpolished, which is a shame as it does hold glimmers of fun. The looting is as addictive as any other dungeon crawler, and the combat is even fun at times.
+ It can be fun!
+ Some detailed environments
– Little choice in character progression.
– So many bugs and glitches!
– Bland and generic quests.
Tough to judge as there is some well detailed environments, but characters faces look terrible, animations are stiff and the art design is dull. However, the cutscene art is striking.
Generic music that loops far too much, and the sounds of combat and general adventuring are poor.
Hunt and kill the evil man. Little characterization and depth of plot are present here.
At times fun, but more often it is bland, generic gameplay riddled with bugs and problems along with some general balance issues. Looting remains as addictive as ever. If the game gets updated, then this score could have been a five to six.
Around 6 – 8 hours to run through the singleplayer.
Playable, and even addictive at points like most hack ‘n’ slash looting game is, but the game lacks polish and ambition. One for hardcore D&D lovers only, or for bored and looking for some co-op action.