Oct 17, 2007
Dawn of Magic is perhaps one of the least offensive games ever made, but it's also one of the most toothless. The game successfully copies moves from the Diablo book of success, but in the end it simply does not have enough soul to rest anywhere near that classic franchise.
As its title suggests, Dawn focuses heavily on magic for combat, with a series of strange classes - the Baker's Wife, the Fat Friar, etc. - able to specialize in twelve schools of magic. Spells can be mixed and matched in a somewhat interesting system, but new spells and character upgrades in general come much too slowly. You'll find yourself bored with using the same old fireball spell for the thousandth time long before you receive a more powerful incantation.
The magic mindset does have one large negative effect on the game: melee combat is terribly gimped. If you're into the swords part of swords-n-sorcery, prepare for hours of wading into large groups of enemies, getting a few whacks, and then running like crazy to regen your flagging health.
Dawn of Magic attempts some originality in its story. The actual plot - an ancient evil is resurrected - is as rote as they come, but you are given the choice in fighting said baddie or joining with him. Sadly this isn't implemented in any interesting way. You simply choose "Good" or "Evil" when setting up your character at the beginning, and you're on your way to world domination or salvation.
Topping off all of this mediocrity is the weird multiplayer, containing modes (free-for-all deathmatch, capture the flag, etc.) not normally found in this type of game. In theory the game should be more unique for these options, but there's a reason hack-and-slash RPGs avoid this style of multiplayer: it doesn't work well in the engine.
The only saving grace for Dawn of Magic is its very low price tag. $30 for five long chapters - each easily stretching out seven to ten hours - means lots of admittedly weak bang for your buck. That might be enough to tide gamers over during a drought, but with Diablo 2 and its expansion available for almost the same price and Hellgate: London almost released, the deal sours a lot.