I don't know about you but as a primarily PC gamer I've developed a somewhat unhealthy addiction to checking Steam for new games every week. Maybe it's boredom and maybe it's just the hope that something, anything will come out for the platform during these usually dry gaming months in Spring. About a month ago I noticed a RPG release from German developer Radon Labs called Drakensang. I was immediately skeptical. First of all it's $30 and as a rule I never trust new releases that don't come out at standard market prices. Low prices are usually the sign of low-quality, budget gaming. Second, the game is tied to some universe my narrow-minded DnD brain had not heard of before: The Dark Eye. I could point you to some hefty documentation about what The Dark Eye encompasses, but for now, just assume it's the German version of a Dungeons and Dragons system.
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RPG Corner: Drakensang Is Quite The Surprise
by Dave Snider on
Impressions of an unlikely high-quality RPG out of Germany.
So as I mentioned, right off the bat I was very worried. I knew I'd end up purchasing this game both because there really aren't any western RPGs coming out anytime soon and because the game came out of Europe. Let me explain the last point. Along with a Steam addiction I also have an unhealthy tendency to check out every European / Russian release in the Strategy / RPG genre that receives very little press. At least once a year something comes out of those regions that completely blows me away. I give you S.T.A.L.K.E.R, Divine Divinity, King's Bounty and Silent Storm as recent examples. Drakensang is the newest surprise attack.
Now this isn't a review, the game is far too long for me to finish in any sort of reasonable time while I'm building sites and taking care of the morning news desk, but if you are a fan of Neverwinter Nights 2, I have no problem recommending you check out the game. At thirty dollars it's a huge value and to be honest, if you like this genre, what else are you going to be playing this year? As far as I can tell we've only got Dragon Age, Alpha Protocol, Disciples III and Mass Effect 2 coming out. All of those games still have a ways to go before we see them on shelves anytime soon.
So enough of me lamenting about CRPG releases these days, what's the game like? Basically Drakensang plays a whole lot like Neverwinter Nights 2. The story may not be as rich -- mostly due to some odd voice-attacking -- but the actual look and universe of the game is of high-quality. Combat takes place exactly like you'd expect from a BioWare game with pause-to-attack combat. You'll control up to four party members at any one time and have full control over their actions, leveling and equipment. The main differences from NWN2 is a WoW-like camera system that sits behind your party. Unlike Aurora-Engine games you can actually see the ceilings of dungeons and lush skies in cities.
Oh, and then there's that whole thing about it not being a Dungeons and Dragons game. At first, it was completely off-putting. The Dark Eye ruleset is different, but similar to what you're used to in DnD. I've had both fun and trouble trying to learn what skills and new spells are important. The game definitely gave me a wake up call to what it must be like for a non-DnD player to pick up a game like Icewind Dale. Eventually you'll figure stuff out, but if you're used to having a player's manual in your lap the game's similarity to Neverwinter Nights might make you wish you could throw a Fireball or Sleep spell at the attacking horde.
In the end this post is simply a note to curious RPG fans. I know what it's like to have no idea about a game and find very little information about it online. In this case, know from one RPG-nerd to another, Drakensang is a quality games that fans of early BioWare games will enjoy.