Dungeons & Dragons Daggerdale Xbox Live Arcade Review

Many Xbox LIVE titles are often short and sweet, so I was pleasantly surprised after reintroducing myself to the tried and true world of Dungeons and Dragons via Daggerdale. At 8+ hours of playtime Daggerdale is no Arcade title slouch, but unfortunately it’s far from a must have hit.

In Daggerdale, players choose from 4 different prefabricated characters with the standard fighter, rogue, cleric, or wizard. Characters are capped off at level 10 but there is a decent sized skill set, and item inventory. The appeal of upgrading weapons, armor, and items is all there as might be found in a full console title, but don’t expect hours of customization. Many items look the same and offer almost unnoticeable effects during combat if they have similar stats.

Daggerdale offers little in terms of originality or creativity when it comes to story. An evil wizard, a dark tower, minions doing an evil god’s bidding, etc. there is nothing we haven’t seen countless iterations of before. The story and presentation with its static images and poor motion comic cut scenes cannot escape being simply bland and boring.

As far as game play is concerned, Daggerdale is far too simplistic. Every fight is an unskilled hack n’ slash button masher. Targeting ranged attacks lack precision. More often than not, players will find themselves surrounded and hitting the same button nonstop. When you’re not fighting for the realm, there is little more than fetch quests to occupy your time.

Some of the monster designs look cool, but most of the dungeons they occupy are extremely generic. Textures are decent and lighting is sufficient, but Daggerdale suffers from poor animations and frequent frame rate drop. Screen tearing is also a nagging issue.

The real appeal of warranting this download is the 4 player co-op as everything is more fun when you’re playing with friends. Enemy quantities are ramped up based on the number of players, loot is plentiful, and the ability to resurrect fallen comrades on the fly keeps the quest moving. Playing with friends helps alleviate some of the monotony that creeps in after the first hour and allows players to squeeze out the potential Daggerdale does have buried in it.

I wish Dungeon & Dragons: Daggerdale was a miniature Baldur’s Gate or Neverwinter Nights, but sadly everything is just too basic. Character skills sets and item management is fun, co-op with friends is great, but the few positives are marred with monotonous game play, and seemingly rushed presentation. Try the demo, but all but the most die hard D&D fans should probably stay away.

– Jason Krahn

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