Drakensang

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As if any of you didn’t watch at Salina from all possible angles.^^

Just finished it this week and BOY did I love this game. It was awesome and is clearly one of the best role-playing games of the last years (The Witcher was the last RPG to fill me with this much enthusiasm). I noticed the game because I once played DSA 3, way back in the late nineties. So I was already used to the setting. Usually I’m rather the DnD guy. BUT having the general idea of RPG very much down, in the end, it’s hardly getting used to something really new. And I don’t even want to say this would be bad. Too much is common and well known. I’m just acknowledging, that players used to other settings could tend to dismiss it just because of that. Their loss.

Now, what’s so great about Drakensang? The quests aren’t breathtaking, but clearly belong to the best, the entire genre has to offer. They are complex, long, surprising, diverse, interesting, exciting and hardly repetitive. Clone that industry! Though the graphics engine doesn’t necessarily blow games like Bioshock out of the water, it’s (again) awesome (played it with high def textures). I would roughly compare it with games from Blizzard, which never had the best possible graphics around, but managed to power up in other areas, like animation. This made them always strangely endearing and lively. I always go nuts for that kind, over the 100 GB killer-textures in a sterile and dead world. Blowballs are transported by the wind, grasses grow high and move, birds and butterflies create the illusion of moving through a real nature – when outside of the cities. I was always fascinated by certain kinds of lighting, that can only be produced by 3D graphics cards and Drakensang totally hits the mark. Everything shines and reflects (without annoying or overdone lens flares), caves and dungeons often get their own flair through strange glowing in all the right places.
The game world is big, but not too big. Players don’t get lost (the map is outstanding), but it takes time to reach something, so it feels like really traversing somewhere. Whether it’s necessary to run through woods, cities or a dungeon, they always create the right mood. This is what fantasy role playing (should) feels like!
The game begins easy, but later on I found the battles to be really tough at times. Maybe not as tough as in Tougher Demogorgon tough, but certainly not easy. But even here, it all feels right and adequate. After winning against especially hard enemies, the characters raise their weapons and yell diverse, original cheers. This is the stuff, that doesn’t just raise the morale of the AI characters… Liked that very much. Great idea. I really often missed something like that in other games, where the characters just walk on after a life changing event.

The interface is wonderful. Options everywhere, but not in a way that would shy users away from getting the hang of them. Good RPG’s have to have interfaces, that are as complex as the story, characters and environments. That’s true equilibrium, DUDE! In fact, the interface was this good, that I (from now on) will miss it, whenever games offer less. This ain’t a shooter people! Step up to the task!
The length of the game was roughly twice the size of KotOR, if all the quests are pursued. I always do that, I need to.
An especial highlight were the items. There is a sheer limitless amount of loot. Weapons, armor parts (and everything else) are visible on the characters in great detail. It even affects the character portraits on the upper right side of the screen! That must have been a very tough job, to display every small piece of equipment correctly. I am still shocked and awed.
Hot chicks: Yeah, I know. Drakensang has numerous really beautiful 3D women present (it’s a shame Salina wasn’t a playable party member), probably more than in all other games I ever played. I think I never saw this much hot stuff being present simultaneously in only one game. Seriously. And yes, I know how pathetic it is to point something like this out, but I evolved beyond that. Sorry. Think Picard in Star Trek 8, where he talks about his more sophisticated sensitivity. Boo-yah.
The bad side is kinda small and can’t even begin to compete with all the good stuff and is overshadowed easily. I didn’t like that the end came so fast, that the last part of the game played out in one piece. All earlier story parts/quests were interrupted by returning to Ferdok, the major city of these lands. At one point, there seems to be no necessity to go there anymore, although the player’s base of operations is there. After defeating the first dragon, the caretaker of the base takes the head and hangs it up at the house front, to announce that there’s a dragon slayer around. But except for a single, short glance at it, there is nothing else happening there. No other benefit. You know, every complex and vast game has this point, where it seems to lack, because it simply cannot be infinite in all regards.
In this spirit, I also missed final statements of the party members, or even little tales, like Baldur’s Gate 2 offered, for all the companions.
Last, I obviously used the ingame screenshot option a lot, but this one didn’t work during cutscenes (in the game engine) and dialogs. I don’t know why that is, but clearly screenshotting should always be possible.

I personally can hardly wait for the expansion, that is supposed to be released sometime in 2010.

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  1. 1 Venetica « adrift

    […] It’s no problem when quests are unfinished, returning to them is always a possibility. Drakensang, on the other hand, demands that the player finishes everything before moving on, or the unfinished […]

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  2. 2 Drakensang “2″ – Am Fluss der Zeit « adrift

    […] Drakensang I wanted more (apparently I wasn’t alone – yay!). I was really happy when I learned […]

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