by Ingvi Snædal
reviewed on PC
Dragon Hunter on the Prowl (cntd)
The classes you can choose from are your standard Warrior, Ranger and Mage, but your choice at this point does not really matter as it only affects what weapon and spell you start off with. Your skill points can be distributed to whichever skill you want and there is nothing prohibiting a Ranger from spending all his skill points on Mage spells, essentially becoming a Mage, and a Ranger only by title. I started my playthrough off with a Ranger, being a sucker for beautiful women with bows, but soon found that a warrior would have been a better choice, as so many of the one handed swords deal much more damage then the bow and dual-wielding them makes you twice as deadly.
In my opinion, the bow actually feels a bit strange. Pressing the left mouse button releases an arrow. Some of you may be thinking that that is exactly what it is supposed to do, but I feel that pressing the button should draw the bow, releasing it should let the arrow fly. It may be a detail to small to mention, but it did feel somewhat off to me. The two step approach seems so much more natural. Running into a group of goblins wielding two deadly blades is, on the other hand, immensely satisfying. The hectic hack-n-slash aspect makes the gameplay feel a bit like a mix of Diablo and Guild Wars, with a tiny bit of Oblivion thrown into the mix. The auto-targeting system does get a bit annoying at times though and I did get to thinking if they could not have simply skipped it. The game was also released on the Xbox 360, and this feature must have come in quite handy on a console, but it feels misplaced with a mouse and keyboard at your disposal.
There are a few things that will damage your immersion quite severely, only due to lack of attention to detail. If you have chosen a character with a scarred face, for example, you might be baffled by the first sentence that the arena master utters to you. She looks down at you patronizingly and says: “Look at you. Not a scar on your rosy skin.” This severely damages the immersion and reminds the player that this is not an escape from reality, but a simple piece of software. Character animations have similar adverse effect on the enjoyability of this game. When you finally get control of the Dragon Form, you will immediately notice that, although the controls work wonderfully and combat feels right, the animations of the dragon do not. When turning from side to side, the dragon does not bank with the turn and when spewing fire, the flames look small and sound downright awful.
Strong Gameplay and Writing
There are a few platforming sections in this game, which might seem a bit out of place at first but soon become one of the most enjoyable trials in it. Not that many RPGs have platforming puzzles these days, most opt for a more stationary test of intellect and problem solving skills but I am very pleased to state that this game employs a little bit of both.
When the dust of unpolished graphics, inconsistent voice acting and questionable design choices has settled, what you are left with is the story. The engaging plot and the colorful characters are more then enough to keep you playing for hours. The quests are very varied and entertaining and even the most unimportant side quest will give you satisfaction once completed. Many of them can even be overcome in more then one manner. Despite the unpolished in-game graphics, the cinematics that drive the story forward look superb and one cannot help but wonder whether the arts department could not have made the game look much better if they had just had a bit more time (or more ambition) to add a bit of bling to it.
The game world is filled with humor, some intelligent, some downright silly. A particularly memorable moment was when a skeleton I encountered at one point struck up a conversation with me. As the conversation went on, he suddenly fell apart due to too much existential thought. The writing on the whole is, save for a few inconsistencies, absolutely sublime and I hereby extend an open invitation to the writers behind this game to join me in a D&D session whenever they find themselves in Denmark.
A funny, entertaining, colourful and diverse game world.
Inconsistent voice acting and questionable design choices.