Drakensang: The Dark Eye - Not As Great As It Could Be
A translated table-top game from Germany that's been transformed for the PC, Drankensang has the usual fantasy elements, such as wizards, thieves, dwarves and elves. Unfortunately, it doesn't do anything really new.
Its The Same Old...Situation
The most significant area where Drakensang: The Dark Eye fails to impress is in its storyline. Much like Baldur's Gate (or countless other fantasy titles), this game features a soon-to-be-known hero who is just waiting for opportunity to come knocking. Thankfully there's a prophecy, or he'd never get that knock. It's not that it's any more or less boring than any other title in the genre; it's just not innovative in any way. The one thing that can be said is that nothing is really lost in the translation from German to English. The story is still good; it's well developed and well written. The main character gets to team up with 3 other teammates, making the usual fearsome foursome. And then they set off to save the day.
How's Your Foursome Working?
Rating the gameplay elements of Drakensang is completely subjective. There are some good aspects, and then there are some things that could have been done better. For starters, the gameplay consists of quests, much like any other fantasy RPG. It's not new, and neither is its implementation. The table-top version (from which this game draws its origins) is actually a bit more complex than say, Dungeons and Dragons. Unfortunately, there are a lot of hidden elements that make customizing your skillset difficult. It's not always obvious what you should do when leveling up so it is hard to focusing a character on a clear upgrade path. There are multitudes of races and professions, which is one of the compelling features. Creating your character initially will take a while due to the game's complexity. It's kind of a double-edged sword, and Drakensang struggles with this idea throughout its entire implementation. Some people will like the level of complexity and work it as best they can. Those who prefer more simplicity may find it frustrating and difficult to trudge through.
Drawing You A Fantasy
One of the highlights of this game are its visuals. When you head into a cave, it feels like a cave. The details are there to see in all their glory, and the graphic magnificence shines. It's no Crysis, but the graphics are definitely above average when compared to the usual games in this genre. The only real hindrance is the camera angles that sometimes make the game slightly annoying. When you're in a building for example, sometimes it's difficult to get a really good view. But this is not too annoying, particularly since the game shows everything else so nicely. One other thing to note is the use of your maps. When you're in darkness, it's really really dark. It would have helped had they provided a torch, a lantern, anything to light up the pathway a little better. A small detraction maybe, but one to keep in mind.
Sounds of Swordplay
The sounds in this game are what you'd expect. There's the crash of metal on metal during combat, the usual voice acting from NPCs, and mysterious magical explosions. Considering it's translated from German, they really didn't do too bad a job. Having said that, there's not a lot here to shout about. It's not terrible, but it's not exceptional either. Much like the storyline, this is a classic fantasy RPG that holds its own in the sound department. If you like whats been put out in this genre before, you'll find this just as appealing. If you're looking for something new however, you probably want to avoid this game.
Here's What You Need
This game will require a decent system if you want to really enjoy it. Here are the basics though:
- 2.4 Ghz CPU
- 1 Gig RAM
- 256MB Video Card
- Directx 9.0c Sound Card
- 6GB Hard Drive Space
- DVD drive - yep, no CD's here.
- Windows XP/Vista
Like any game, the more you have, the more enjoyable the experience will be. With Drakensang: The Dark Eye however, this is even more true. The time spent can be really pleasant, but you need decent resources to truly experience the game the way it was meant to be played.
Overall, this is a decent fantasy RPG. It doesn't bring very much new to the table, but it doesn't really do anything poorly either. The game mechanics are a bit complex, and some of the character templates are restrictive. But if you enjoy the classic fantasy RPG, you'll probably find this one to be to your liking as well. Just don't expect to be blown away with innovation. It's a solid game with a few quirks, but if you like detailed character management in your RPGs, you'll probably have an enjoyable time.