Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale Review

By on July 12, 2011

A D&D game that is weak on the RPG side, yet is enjoyable as an action co-op title.

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First Impressions
My reaction is

Dungeons & Dragons name comes with high esteem from the world of tabletop RPG games. D&D pen and paper RPGs are the source of all Role playing video games. So, when a video game is made based on that brand name, it comes with high expectations to do better than the rest of RPGs. But Daggerdale does nothing of that sort and will leave many a fans disappointed.

The game starts with an all familiar story: An Evil has risen, and you have been chosen to beat the crap out of it. That’s it! No dramatic twists, no rising from slums to become a champion in this game. Even the cut-scene is presented via low budget artwork. There are not even voice-overs for quest givers or heroes. So, overall it all gives a clear vibe of low budget production. Although the game is made as a downloadable game rather than a AAA commercial product; yet recent downloadable games have raised the bar and we expected the same from a game that comes from bigger publisher like Atari.

The controls are mainly tuned for a controller. We reviewed the PC version using both mouse and keyboard and a controller and found that controller was the obvious choice. Using mouse has a problem that the mouse movement actually turns the character rather than camera. This causes too abrupt motions during combat and navigation. There is no option to switch this camera lock mode. But if you pick up a controller then the twin stick controls make you feel just at home. Even the action buttons are mapped to four face buttons of controller, indicating that the true intention by the developers was the use of controller. There are four action mapped to the four controller face button for attack / interact keys. But by pressing and holding a trigger key, you get an alternate panel of four alternate actions which are mapped to your character special abilities or spells.

You can choose to play as a Human Fighter, Elven Rogue, Dwarven Cleric or Halfling Wizard, although the degree to which you can customize them is extremely limited. It is not just the looks but the whole RPG sense and fighting system has been dumbified. There is no elaborate spell book from which you mix and match spells, but instead the game is more tuned as a simplistic hack and slash with limited spells to upgrade and same mapped to your face buttons. There is ample loot for you to collect and shops to utilize that loot to buy some nice upgrades.

As I continued to play this game, it reminded me of experience I had while playing Lara Croft: Guardian of light: First I was pissed at Crystal Dynamics for turning Tomb Raider franchise into an isometric game, but then I started to enjoy the game when I felt that the whole idea behind the game was not an up and close third person action/adventure game; but instead it was made as a light hearted co-op game with innovative puzzles for player to solve. The objective behind Daggerdale is something same. Once you realize that this game is not meant to be a true RPG depicting any grand adventure but instead it is targeting a broader audience with focus on co-op and fast combat then you start to enjoy it.

Despite some visceral action this game does certainly become repetitive. You will never experience any environment other than the dwarven caves. The missions are all generic asking you to fetch something or kill monsters. Even the combat becomes mindless button mashing after a while. Overall my experience with this game was more of a short lived bell curve. First I was not impressed with all the simplifications, then my excitement increased as I accepted the fact that this was a simpler Combat RPG game, but then the excitement curve died again when the game got stale and repetitive.

If you are looking for a deep RPG game then Daggerdale is not the right choice for you. This game was not meant to compete with Dragon Age or Elder Scrolls. Daggerdale was made entirely with a different concept of easy to pickup combat with some RPG elements, and it does try to do justice to that concept. The game features both local co-op mode (for 2 players) as well as online co-op on consoles via their proprietary match making systems or on PC via Gamespy Arcade (for 4 players). And this co-op mode would make your trip enjoyable in this otherwise monotonous and uninspired game.

The Scorecard
More action oriented combat is fun for a while, but reiterative.
No effects to praise, and always dark & gloomy environments are a turn off.
Even $5 games do a better job at sound production that this title.
A lengthy game but uninspired levels, quests and action.
Co-op gets all the points for increasing its fun factor.
A decent co-op game, ruined by expectations associated with its brand name.


Dad in the day, Gamer by night. Loves everything Geek. By profession an Engineer but my hobby has been Video gaming on PC since 1989.

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  • Beorach

    I purchased the Xbox 360 version and have experienced what seem to be some common bugs that have yet to be fixed.

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