Upon the lofty pedestal, you discover an ancient artifact known as the controller.
In the dysfunctional family of video games, Dungeons & Dragons is like that grandpa who begins every sentence with "you know, back in my day...". Oh, don't get him started, or he'll start talking about magic missiles, cross-class feats, a +3 stone of grinding, and necrotic ball pits filled with evil dodecahedrons. But as much as we would like to dismiss Dungeons & Dragons as an irrelevant, bygone artifact, no one can deny its influence on BioWare and Bethesda and nearly all Western role-playing games. There's little reason why we don't have a modern reincarnation of a Dungeons & Dragons title, especially with the more action-inspired 4th Edition ruleset, a void which Atari wishes to fill with Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale.
[image1]For comparison, Daggerdale plays much like a hybrid of Baldur's Gate and Gauntlet Legends except for being much more grounded in the D&D system, to the point where you can almost see d8s being thrown in the background. Daggerdale itself is already steeped in D&D lore as a region that has an extraordinary and rugged history involving the Desertsmouth Mountains, Jhaamdathan settlers, Tethyamar dwarvers, Zhentarim, and now Rezlus, a nefarious sorcerer who seeks to control Daggerdale. It's your job to cut your way through his minions as you descend into the dwarven mines and root out this new evil.
Players can select from four standard builds that pair a race and class - human warrior, dwarven battle priest, elven rogue, and halfling wizard - all of whom play as you would expect them to. Each build has differing weapon proficiencies based on class, stat bonuses for race, starting equipment, battle styles, and abilities. No matter which build you choose, you have a standard attack and a ranged weapon that never runs out of ammo, which can create what is essentially the axe-throwing madness of Gauntlet Legends. Since health potions tend to be scarce at times and don't heal that many points, throwing safe ranged attacks with knockback effects can help clear crowds more effectively than simply storming into battle against a throng of elite goblins and annoying hex witches.
This lean toward a defensive strategy is evident when you're flying solo, even with a melee-based class like the human warrior. It quickly becomes a battle of letting your crowd-clearing abilities recharge before delving into another group of enemies, who spawn with high frequency; there's no such thing as clearing an area here. On the upside, this encourages players to ban together in a party of up to four, hopefully with members who have healing spells. Otherwise, it's all about abusing the town cleric to health your wounds for free instead of slurping down six health potions like thin strawberry Kool-Aid.
[image2]As usual, gaining new equipment and accessories help tremendously, not only in upping a player's armor class, but substantially increasing damage output beyond the base weapon. Most of the time, a weapon has a large range of possible damage like 1-8 or 2-10, so any rings or helms that add elemental damage is golden. On top of adding assured damage, it can also deal temporary side effects on opponents like slowing a skeleton warrior from advancing with some ice damage. Some keepers can be found simply through enemy drops, but most of the time selling loot and scouring through shops, which refresh their wares frequently, is the best way to find awesome treasures.
Finally arriving from the tabletop to the console, Dungeon & Dragons: Daggerdale hopes to be the old dog that learns new tricks. It will arrive on XBLA, PSN, and PC on May 24, 2011.