|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Radon Labs||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 18, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
RPGs can be a two-edged sword. They are notoriously lengthy and involved games, and depending on the quality, they can offer amazing bang for the buck, or drag on forever and ever. Drakensang: The Dark Eye has the potential to last more than a hundred hours. Thankfully, it's the kind of game that you don't measure in time units. Like a good RPG, you actually live it. You'll always find the time to play a game that you truly enjoy.
Drakensang: The Dark Eye is not going to instantly appeal to everyone, especially those that have been coerced into the genre with the recent glut of hybrids and persistent online multiplayer games that combine different elements that not only varies the gameplay, but streamlines it in favour of more real-time action. Dark Eye is not hardcore traditional, but it does embrace the old-school RPG formula. This game is produced in Germany where it won the best RPG of 2008. Based on the original pen-and-paper RPG, it includes all of the standard RPG elements including monster-killing combat, dungeon-crawling, character interaction, and levelling-up. There's no shortage of challenges for the initiated, but the learning curve is not so steep that it will alienate the action-oriented.
Truth be told, there's some confusion concerning the damage points, the scoring system, and choosing the best levelling-up attributes. Newbies may also feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options, stats, weapons, and abilities, but it does all come together even if you don't fully understand what effects your choices will have. I look at it this way, it's better to have levelled-up and lost than never to have levelled-up at all. When in doubt, balance it out. You may want each party member to specialize in specific abilities, but then each party member should be different from the others. I like my party to be as diversified as possible to tackle the many different situations you will encounter.
In an RPG, it's all about the gameplay. The story doesn't make or break the game, but a good story is always coveted. Sometimes a weak story can be overcome by good character development, with good dialogue and voice acting. Dark Eye's presentation is very good, certainly worth more than the thirty-dollar price tag. The story is good it's not great, but the characters more than make up for it. There is a discernable difference when compared to recent Japanese-produced RPGs. The focus is entirely on the single-player experience. The characters are less exuberant and cocky, and they're not anime. However, they are still standard RPG characters. As cliché as they may be, there's a sharp vein of humor that runs through the presentation, letting us know the developers are aware of having to include these traditional characters to remain true to the genre. Dark Eye is not a comedy, and when things get intense, the mood gets very dark. Adhering to the proven, manic RPG formula, the developers work their magic within this framework. They did not attempt to reinvent the wheel in terms of gameplay, but they've rust-proofed and lubricated it so that it rolls along just fine.
Humans coexist peacefully with dwarves in the land of Aventuria. That is, until a few murders startle the inhabitants. The circumstances surrounding these murders raise suspicion among various community members and organizations. Light is shed on the darkest corners of the once tranquil world, causing shadowy specters to retreat further into the underworld recesses. Paranoia and false accusations are rampant, as Aventura begins to come apart at the seams with reactionary witch-hunts and vigilante justice. Of course, this is where you come in. It's your destiny to assemble a party and save your world. Just another day at the RPG office.