The Dark Eye: Drakensang – hands-on

Combat is very simple at first, but quickly becomes a juggling act of managing each party member, casting spells, using special moves, and repositioning member in danger of being killed. While the pace of combat is somewhat slow, following a distinct round-based structure, it still can become hectic due to the requirements of managing multiple characters and abilities and dealing with surprisingly lethal enemies early into the game. While the powerful foes seemed too strong initially (we got our ass kicked by a couple of wild boars), the dynamic ensures that the combat was not boring by being too easy. After applying a bit more care and thought, those terrifying boars became nice pelts for selling later.

Managing your party outside of combat is still complex: if a character sustains wounds, which are separate from straight health damage, you’ve got to bandage them up. Classes are not bound by a narrow range of weapons, so swapping from a club to a sword to a bow and arrow can happen between every battle if it suits you. Interacting with NPCs is equally complex and flexible: you’re often given three or more nuanced response options, and depending on what you say can have dramatically different outcomes.

The game looks quite pretty if you have the visuals cranked to high, with a surprising amount of polish considering it’s not a triple-A title being hyped all over the place. If you’re looking for a fantasy world that stands out from the crowd with some kind of flourish to make it seem unique, Drakensang won’t be that game. It’s going for tradition and depth, and it doesn’t skimp on either.

Jan 15, 2009

Matthew Keast
My new approach to play all games on Hard mode straight off the bat has proven satisfying. Sure there is some frustration, but I've decided it's the lesser of two evils when weighed against the boredom of easiness that Normal difficulty has become in the era of casual gaming.