Dec 26 2011

I’ve Never Forgiven the Barrels for Killing My Son

Posted by

So a while back, a friend gave me his copy of Dungeons and Dragons: Daggerfaildale, because he couldn’t get it to run on his computer. And since I’ve been jonesing for a little goblin smackdown, I decided to give it a shot. [1]

Daggerdale is basically like Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance or Everquest: Conquest of Norrath, a multiplayer action game with the trappings of D&D … throw yourself at goblins and mash buttons ’til they die. Theoretically it should be prettier than those, being newer, but it’s basically the same thing. The only problem is, the makers seem to have decided that instead of just making a similar game in the same genre, they would just do a wholesale copy/paste and call it a day.

These games don’t generally mess with a complicated plot, right? Well, the makers of the game apparently decided to go with that “etcetera, etcetera” mindset and really just phoned it in. There’s some evil guy named Rezlus in a tower who is gonna do some bad thing or other. He’s always the evil Rezlus. Or maybe “The’Evil” is his first name. What is Rezlus like or about, other than evil? No idea, except that he’s blue. And apparently worships Bane. But really, that’s enough, right? Anyhow, obviously, y’all gotta knock off all that evil, so !Galadriel teleports you into a dwarf mine so you can smash barrels and even occasionally fight a goblin. (Presumably !Gandalf was busy.)

Barrels. Really. Why. They even have the “barrel-maker crying that people keep smashing his barrels” joke. Didn’t Bard’s Tale put that bit to bed, like ten years ago? Maybe they’re depending on gamers having a short memory. The first level past the tutorial consists of nothing but a bunch of dwarves standing around while you smash all their barrels. (Smashing barrels is optional, of course, but you’ll want those health potions later.)

So you have your choice of four characters in the game: the burly white fighter guy, the white elf archer chick, the white dwarf cleric dude, or the androgynous white halfling wizard. [2] Each one is lovingly rendered in shades of sepia, and looks like they’d rather be doing anything else than going on this adventure. I kinda want to gripe about the lack of options here– I’m partial to male elf fighters and female human clerics (for instance), but none of the other games in this genre really give you a choice (Gauntlet II at least gave you color options…), so I guess there’s no point in that.

I should point out, that you don’t necessarily stay sepia. The high point of the game, in terms of low points, had to be when my character picked up a suit of armor that turned him into the Iceman from Marvel Comics. And by this I don’t mean he was wearing blue armor, I mean his entire body turned bright blue, including his skin, eyes, and hair. I know, fantasy game, magic, yadda-yadda, but wow. Even D&D usually tries to at least keep a little grounding in its quasi-medieval setting. Did some designer really want to be working on a superhero game instead? It was here that it went from “playable if weak” to “just plain silly.”

Anyway, the game’s nomenclature is all lifted from 4E, but it doesn’t mean anything. I fought “level one minions” with 24 hit points, “controllers” who just stood there and beat up on you, and so forth. You have all the usual Strength/Dex/Con stuff, but it’s all pre-set and doesn’t seem to actually do much. You fight by clicking the attack button until everything around you is dead, and defend yourself by guzzling health potions. I don’t know what the multiplayer is like, because that would have required getting another copy for Mrs. Gneech and I wasn’t willing to actually spend any money on it. We can do the same thing only better by pulling out the old Baldur’s Gate platformers or Gauntlet: Legends.

In short… meh. Don’t waste your time.

-The Gneech

PS: Oh, did I mention that the disk appears to contain nothing but an installer that downloads the game from Steam? Whee!

[1] I more or less hung up my dicebag earlier this year, at least as a gamemaster. I’d still love to play if I could find a local game, but I haven’t exactly been actively searching.

[2] Halfling wizard, really? I don’t get the gaming community’s fervent desire to include halflings but OMG can’t have ’em be hobbits, no, no! Really, guys, the only reason to include halflings is because they’re hobbits. If you don’t like hobbits, leave halflings out all together. They’re superfluous otherwise.

Filed under : Reviews | Comments Off on I’ve Never Forgiven the Barrels for Killing My Son

Comments are closed.