Friday, April 20, 2012

Daggerdale: Critical Fumble

I want to like Dungeons and Dragons Daggerdale, and I've given it every opportunity, but can't help thinking that this is the poor man's Diablo, with everything done on the cheap.

They skimped on the voice acting - reducing it to grunts and using subtitles instead.

They skimped on the music - using 8-bit cheesy synthesizer riffs that endlessly recycle every 5 seconds.

They skimped on the cutscene animations, using simple drawings.

They skimped on the writing, adding no backstory whatsoever to the characters.

They skimped on the modeling, with horrendously repetitive environments and blocky characters that are far below today's standards.

They skimped on the playtesting, with weird glitches appearing throughout -  creatures and objects floating immobile in midair, for example.

They skimped on the editing, with (text) dialogue that appears to have been translated by an ESL speaker. A prime example of the quality is the line "I will send you into the oblivion I came into". If that was deliberate, it wasn't clever or subtle; if it was accidental, it was an appallingly stupid oversight.

They skimped on the level design - there are no hidden items whatsoever to challenge you, nor any puzzles to solve. The game is simply a matter of rapid button mashing, without any real challenge at all. Instead, some manically magnanimous mystery being (the Easter Bunny, perhaps?) has inexplicably gone to a huge amount of effort to fashion wine casks, stuff them with gold coins, and place them conveniently in every corner, making them the Daggerdale equivalent of ATM machines.

If you have a weekend to waste while you wait for Blizzard to finally get the ball rolling, Daggerdale will suffice to (barely) amuse.

Why Wizards of the Coast would want to sully the Dungeons and Dragons brand name with this straight-to-the-discount-bin title is puzzling. It almost certainly has to do less with a lack of creative talent than with the team having their hands shackled by financial considerations.

In short, Dungeons and Dragons Daggerdale is what happens when corporations allow accountants to dictate production. Bean counters are inimical to creativity, and should be locked away in the basement to endlessly engage in their arcane fiddlings far away from civilized life forms.

Two out of five, and winner of our Iggy Award:

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