|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Radon Labs||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 18, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
You can select three other party members to accompany you on your adventure, which is rife with side quests offered from the non-playable characters you'll bump into. All of the party members are playable. The classes are many and varied including elves, wizards, amazons, monks, pirates, and dwarves. The battles are technically turn-based but play out in real-time. It can get to be a little overwhelming watching all of the actions take place simultaneously, but you will have the option to stop the game to review and revamp your strategy.
Parrying is an essential combat move. After attacking an enemy, you will be able to parry the attack. This will help keep your stats up, since a powerful attack from an enemy will result in a wound that will lower your stats until you can heal yourself. This is a situation you don't want to be in, since it can quickly deplete your points. You can't rely on your armor to fully shield you from such attacks. The best you can hope for is to minimize the damage.
Crafting involves combining items to create hybrids. Mixing foods and chemicals will result in more powerful potions that may be used for everything from healing to blowing up the enemy. Weapons, armor, precious metals, and spells can be crafted with unique results. Overall, the game does a good job of giving the player a sense of freedom to experiment. I say sense because there is just no getting around the linearity that drives the storyline, but it's nicely disguised as paths through the forest, roads to the next town, invisible walls, and information and directions provided by NPCs. With more than one way to solve puzzles, this sense of freedom is also heightened. This personalizes the game and also increases the replay value - a great bonus for such a single-player game.
By using some of the game background graphics and textures, Dark Eye makes the best of things by keeping the quality high at the expense of visual diversity. This also keeps the price of the game more than reasonable. Who cares if all of the forests look the same? There's no avoiding repetition in an RPG, so I'm making allowances, not excuses. The character models may be cliché but they are well-detailed right down to the cross-stitching. There are not a lot of ambient sound effects or voiceover work, giving the game a feeling of emptiness. But by contrast, when you finally reach a village or city, the hustle and bustle is absolutely electric. The soundtrack has three main themes: lighthearted, dark, and neutral, all of which are triggered at the appropriate times.
Drakensang: The Dark Eye is a rare breed these days. It's not a hardcore RPG, but it still offers a lot of complexity. The beauty of the game is the way in which the developers tailored the gameplay to include newbies without dumbing-down the genre. Don't miss a chance to play a game marinated in the classic RPG tradition.
CCC Senior Writer