It’s been a while since I last got my hands on a quality RPG and Drakensang: The Dark Eye didn’t seem to be the game to change things around, especially since it was, for me, a virtually unknown title developed by the unknown studio Radon Labs. So not a great business card for the game, right?
I am glad, however, that I did get over all these so-called problems and got Drakensang: The Dark Eye because it’s a huge and pleasant surprise, a high quality RPG game I wasn’t expecting to play. And solely the fact that it wasn’t heavily marketed and gamers don’t know about it is a shame. Seems to be just as it happened with King’s Bounty: The Legend.
However, if we didn’t hear about Drakensang: The Dark Eye, it does not mean that it’s not a quite famous franchise in Germany: this is the fourth (!!!) title in The Dark Eye series, but obviously the one that truly and fully deserves our attention.
The game takes place in a fantasy world of Ferdok, a place where dwarves and humans live together in harmony, a place where the beer keeps coming and the girls are all beautiful. However, out of nowhere, a wave of crimes floods the lands and strange creatures start to appear in the shadows. And that’s when you come into play, with a letter from a friend and courage in your heart.
Drakensang: The Dark Eye starts with you choosing from 20 pre-set character classes and it’s better to do so, even though an “Expert” mode allows you to customize your own. However, there are so many stats and things you have to take into account (and things you probably have no idea what they mean), so it’s better to leave them alone and go for the pre-made classes.
Then, you’re thrown in the city of Ferdok, alone for the moment, surrounded by tons of people, all wanting your help and giving you quests, all having stories to tell and things to hide. The thing is that you should simply follow a path and find out what’s the reason why you received a mysterious letter from an old friend, but with so many things happening along the way, you’ll soon find yourself overwhelmed and kind of frustrated since you’re drawn in the action way too fast. Or at least that’s what happened to me, because I didn’t stick to the damned road!
And you’d better stick to the road, because Drakensang is a bit different from the regular RPGs you have played: its emphasis is bigger on skill points rather than leveling up, and each ability you have needs a different amount of experience points, depending on the level of the ability. So you will have to plan very well ahead, debate with your inner voice and make the right choices – and there will be tons of choices you’ll have to make – most of them bad, probably, at least at first since you will be hit by tons of information and you’ll simply have no time to ingurgitate it all.
Also, Drakensang is a party-based role playing game, but one that really makes sense and gets you thinking and tactically arranging your fellow adventurers positions and settings. It’s all hardcore in the game and if you believe you can simply play the game without caring too much about the tons of options, skills and statistics… well, it’s not a game for you. However, for those who love RPGs, this is a hell of a ride!
Unfortunately, the problem comes from learning how to play it: I did it the hard way, playing for about three hours, getting a hang of things and starting over. There are tutorials in form of pop-up windows, but there is such an immense quantity of new information you have to deal with, that you’ll get tired and confused anyway so you’ll have to start over. The good thing is that, in the end, won’t be such a big problem, since it’s a real pleasure to play Drakensang: The Dark Eye.
However, I had the impression that there were a bit too many “fetch the item, bring it back” quests and sometimes too few fighting sequences in between, but others might have a different opinion. The fighting itself is a real challenge, since whenever one is about to start the action is paused so you can give orders to your party and unpause it to see the results (you can also play it in real time if you want, but you’ll soon see that it’s better to take care of things for yourself).
Drakensang: The Dark Eye is a high quality RPG that proves that taking a genre back to its roots and really challenging players to think and plan their moves is a winning strategy. Probably the more casual players won’t be able to enjoy the game because of its complexity, but they’d be missing a quality ride. In other words, I can say that Drakensang: The Dark Eye came out of nowhere to take the world by surprise and flood it with complex and complete quality. Highly recommended to hardcore RPG fans!
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