Drakensang (originally released here in Germany in 2008) is a turn-based party RPG using "Germany's D&D" rules, "The Dark Eye", and follows in the footsteps of games like Black Isle/Bioware's Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights 2 - more or less.
Does it hold up? - yes and no. Some may call it boring, others call it slow-paced, either way, nothing about this game could be described as "high octane". If this rather intrigues you, then by all means, here's the full review:
Coming out a year before Dragon Age: Origins hit the shelves and probably resparked interest as well as expectations for the genre, this title is a neat little throwback that ALMOST succeeds in recreating the feel of the aforementioned beloved classic, but comes with a series of shortcomings, a lot of which can probably be traced back to a lack in production power for such an ambitious title.
Some of these shortcomings include: The ability to not fully customize the looks of your characters, not having fully voiced NPC dialogues, the gameplay being "functional" rather than "elegant", and being fairly limited in terms of story-choices and dialogue options (most of which only truly seem fitting if you're playing a default human 'nice guy' type of hero, and end up seeming odd or out-of-character for any elf, dwarf, or less-than-nice type of hero you might want to play).
If you have played Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights or any similar title, you will probably pick up the controls pretty quickly - point and click or WASD to move, hold mouse button to turn camera, click on character, assign command, hit spacebar to pause at any time. If you have played any of the D&D-based CRPGs and had no background and prior knowledge in AD&D, you will probably also relive the same frustration of "what do all these things mean"
and "why is my character unable to hit stuff"
, leading to a rather frustrating experience until you finally figure out the simulated Pen-and-Paper-RPG rules this game's system is built on. Expect to look up a guide online to get up to speed, since the explainations the game itself provides may prove insufficient.
But, all the negatives aside, there is also a lot of good to be found: The locations are very well crafted and modelled very realistically after late medieval Germany, character models are colorful and overall very nice to look at, and the soundtrack goes perfectly with the scenery.
So, whom do I recommend this game to?
- You're looking for a "quaint" RPG where you do not wade in blood, a game that takes a rather light-hearted approach, not offering a lot of world-shattering choices, and overall a more relaxed experience
- You appreciate hommage and genre conventions and don't expect innovation
- You're not bothered by having to do a bit of research in order to fully get behind the game rules if you are not already fully familiar with them
Not recommended if:
- you're looking for a fast-paced game with action combat or even the tactical depth of the older infinity engine games; this game is hardly challenging if you know the rules well enough.
- you want a more epic or serious experience, as the plot and presentation try not much to impress with edginess or cinematics
- you're sick of "traditional fantasy rpgs". This is as traditional as it gets, up to the point where some would call it "clicheed", "dull" and "beaten to death"
PS: Even if you like a "slower" game, do yourself a favor and look up a little thing called "Ergo's Fixpack" up online, as it modifies the walking speed of your party to a more covenient pace - but be aware that is also contains some other small modifications to the game and thus does not allow for the "100% vanilla experience".