Dungeons & Dragons Daggerdale Review
It takes some skill to make a good hack and slash game. You have to take what is inherently very repetitive gameplay and make it compelling and enjoyable. When things are done right, you have games such as Diablo, Torchlight, or Dark Alliance, games that are a lot of fun to play and border on addicting. When things aren't done right, you have games that are more exercises in tedium than anything else. Unfortunately, Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale falls into the latter category.
You begin the game by selecting from one of four pre-generated characters: a human fighter, elf rogue, dwarf cleric, or halfling wizard. The game then gives you a few points and lets you spend them to select from a handful of perks, and then you're on your way. The goal in the game is to raid a tower to put an end to the threat posed by an evil wizard holed up inside, which breaks down to completing four zones each of which has a main quest line and a number of secondary quests. All your usual fare for these types of games.
The first strike against Daggerdale is that it doesn't grasp the basic tenet of hack and slash games; that they're all about the loot. You can wade through a sea of goblins or what have you and come away from the whole thing with only a couple of pouches of gold and a health potion for your efforts. And when you do get loot a lot of it is junk. An hour into the game I was still seeing things like leather caps with negative attribute modifiers. Where are all of the mighty swords, magical armor sets, and spell-laden staffs?
The next is that the game is tied to the Dungeons & Dragons rule set. I don't have anything against Dungeons & Dragons, it's just that its rules are designed for the long haul. It would be great to have some forty hour RPG based on the D&D 4th Edition rules, but not a six hour downloadable title. The biggest reason that this is a detriment to Daggerdale is that it takes a fair amount of time to level up in Dungeons & Dragons, and time is not something that you have a lot of in a downloadable game. You'll hack and slash your way through hordes of enemies only to see your experience meter barely register a tick. But it's not just the fact that the game is too short for the time it takes to gain levels – slow leveling is also against the hack and slash ethos. Part of the fun in these types of games is being rewarded often with new perks, abilities, spells, and the like, and then jumping back into the fray to try them all out.
These missteps certainly take some of the fun out of the game, but there's not a lot of fun to be sucked out of it in the first place. The gameplay is pretty monotonous, and not simply because it's a hack and slash game. The quests aren't all that interesting and the variety of enemies is limited, leaving you feeling like you're doing pretty much the same thing over and over again. You might be able to stick through it in the hopes that things will get better later in the game, but they don't ever do.
Making matters worse, gameplay problems aren't the only things saddling Daggerdale; the game is absolutely riddled with bugs. The screen-tearing is so bad that it makes it difficult to even look at the game without getting mildly queasy. There are also texture issues galore, as well as clipping issues that are almost laughable. I once saw a goblin trapped from the waist down inside the floor, unable to move because his legs were trapped beneath the floor. I put him out of his misery. Now that he's no longer in Daggerdale, he's in a far better place.
Final Rating: 40%. An epic fail on the quest for fun.