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The Dark Eye: Drakensang review

AT A GLANCE
  • Satisfyingly tactical combat
  • Comprehensive character control
  • Tons of classes to choose from
  • Boring beginning
  • Generic fantasy world
  • Fiddly, frustrating character development

After playing so many D&D variants, it’s easy to forget what a beast its game systems really are. We just found ourselves typing something about what a complex, very, very German RPG Drakensang is, but, really, it’s not. What it reminded us of most was our first time playing The Witcher. Both feature worlds that seem generic until you dive in a bit deeper, both open with a couple of chapters so boring that they could replace diamond as the drilling industry’s tool of choice, and both improve right about the time you’re ready to uninstall.

In the case of Drakensang, it’s not the big dramatic moments that make the difference, so much as a lot of the smaller details coming together. You finally start getting fights that demand more than just having everyone steam in, swords clanking. The fiddly, frustrating character development system never stops being fiddly, but you start to realise the benefit of the extra control – especially with a full party. With a full party, the initially horrific camera and control system actually makes sense. The list goes on. You have to force yourself to get to this stage, and RPG designers need to realise that ‘get into the town where the game starts’ isn’t an acceptable opening objective, but at least your patience is rewarded with something more satisfying than just bigger numbers and heftier whacking-sticks with which to slay evil.

Sadly, some of the problems remain, not least a few badly phrased quests that either totally fail to tell you where to go, or are way too vague about it. That, and combat AI that forces you to constantly page through your whole party to get proper use of their spells and special abilities. If there’s a crime on the docket, however, it’s that even at its best, Drakensang is amiable rather than legendary. If you can tolerate its quirks and overly familiar world, you can definitely do worse in the current RPG void.

Feb 25, 2009


 

More Info

Release date: Feb 24 2009 - PC (US)
Aug 01 2008 - PC (UK)
Available Platforms: PC
Genre: Role Playing
Published by: THQ
Developed by: Radon Labs
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Blood, Tobacco Reference, Use of Alcohol, Violence
PEGI Rating:
12+: Violence, Bad Language

5 comments

  • real4xor - August 11, 2009 7:36 p.m.

    heh, Drakensang is everything you`d expect from a pecil&paper RPG to PC. There`s a damn big list of skills to choose from. and you can learn them all (to become master of none). the story is... well, what you expect from a fantasy world. It`s kind of too bad you don`t see many of these Oldskool RPG`s around anymore.
  • JohnnyMaverik - April 6, 2009 2:09 p.m.

    Sounds interesting enough so I might pick this up and give it a go. Hope theres a demo out there somewhere to get a taste first.
  • Obi - April 17, 2009 5:02 a.m.

    There is a demo JohnnyMaverik in a number of places. I've just bought (from-Amazon/installed the full-game, and so far in really looks supper-sweet! Now let's see/fill how it play's. Happy-gaming!
  • MarXmaN - February 26, 2009 3:16 p.m.

    I am from Germany and used to play the Dark Eye as a pen&paper RPG back in highschool. Okay the world's name Aventuria sounds a generic as it can get but it is actually thouroughly thought through. I am not that big into RPGs because they`re usually 3rd person but I was actually delighted to see this title being dubbed in English. I will definitively get this from Amazon. Only disappointment though is maybe the to be expected lack of gore. Damn you German Gestapo office for censorship.
  • zanthox - February 26, 2009 5 a.m.

    Hmm, we shall see if I manage to get enough spare $$$ and time to pick this one up, I've been seeing it around and it has been intriguing me...

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