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Default Drakensang - Review @ GameBanshee

March 16th, 2009, 23:42
Brother None pens GameBanshee's official Drakensang review, which spans an extensive five pages. The story, pacing, ease of combat and shallow companions all come in for criticism, although the quest design and general level of polish result in a score of 8.2/10. Here's a snip:
Dialogue and quest design actually improves as you go along, with the dwarf mines containing some of the best quests of the game. A variety of resolutions and testing of player skill for quests remains fairly constant, but does peak in certain short parts later on, and you'll suddenly find your social skills are pretty damned useful. Heck, for two major invasions into enemy strongholds later in the game, the game actually encourages you to try and sneak in unnoticed rather than go in swords swinging.

This approach of keeping design at the same level throughout is really refreshing, and makes it worthwhile to play the game through to the end. However, the game does feel a little on the long side. Some sequences are a bit too familiar later on, making you wonder if a more focused, slightly less sprawling approach to length would not have been better. Particularly, a lot of time is filled by walking, as discussed, which is an absolute disaster, and much of the rest of the time is filled in combat, which is nearly as bad, but more on that below.
The review is included with their newly-launched Drakensang sub-site, with an equipment database and ruleset details.
More information.
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March 16th, 2009, 23:42
Just a small suggestion for everyone who is troubled by the long walking distances:

With the SQLite Database Browser it is possible to modify a savegame to permanently increase the running speed of the whole party: the relevant table is _Instance_PC.

Since I try to keep with the original ideas of the developers and did not want to spoil the game by cheating too much I restrained myself to only increasing the max. and running velocities from about 3.4 to 4.5; and in my opinion this already improves gameplay. For those who care, the appearance of the player character can also be switched with another archetype in the same table.
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March 16th, 2009, 23:48
Good job, Thomas.

You should add to the download files description that these are only needed for german version because it is already included in the international releases.

If you need help, let me know.

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March 17th, 2009, 01:42
Overall I think 8.2 is a fair and just score. Much better than those 7ers.
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March 17th, 2009, 03:24
Yeah, but if I read the text without seeing a score, I'd guess it was a 6-7/10 review.

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March 17th, 2009, 05:13
Nice review.

Just one comment: The game has a setting "Pause every combat round", which basically allows for turn-based combat.
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March 17th, 2009, 10:10
Yeah…only that isn't even close to the same thing as turn-based.

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March 17th, 2009, 10:44
Speaking of combat: is there any way to avoid the ridiculous (and life threatening) "n-step shuffle" that the players in a party perform when they rush into attack someone? I just point-click and say "attack". Is there some better way? Enemies also tend to move erratically, so choosing the closest one as a target doesn't always help. I tend to pause a lot to re-assign combat commands.

PS Why do "battle" mages have damage spells that take a huge amount of time to cast!? And no, standing at a distance and zapping into melee i not an options - enemies always pursue and attempt to swarm you. Fortunately i have a goodish AR…but still, at least a few quick combat spells (even if they drain a lot of AE) would be good (if they exist, I have not found them). Care for another acronym?
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March 17th, 2009, 11:24
I have been using "pause at the end of every round" since I started playing. I don't understand how it isn't considered turn-based combat. I have played several games on dos that had a simultanous turn-based combat system. (which is what this is) It isn't like in real time w/ pause systems where you can stack up your attacks and let it go but you have to choose each round. (you previous selection is the default like in some turn based games)
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March 17th, 2009, 12:12
You're talking about a phase-based or WEGO system. There are still key differences but I accept your point. I meant a sequential turn-based IGOUGO system, which I think is the more common usage. This is exactly like the Infinity Engine games.

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March 17th, 2009, 13:55
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Yeah, but if I read the text without seeing a score, I'd guess it was a 6-7/10 review.
It's a 7/10 game without the TDE system, 8/10 with. Note that I don't mean my talking more about walking and combat than about the character system should mean that the latter is less important than the former. I think this game's combat (and walking) are bad enough to turn some people off completely, which is why I spend some care describing their issues, but it's hard to ignore the fact that this game has a better character system and setting than most any other out there right now. And that's ignoring the polish, world design, quest design, great use of skills and solid party system.

Originally Posted by Turjan View Post
Just one comment: The game has a setting "Pause every combat round", which basically allows for turn-based combat.
Which functions about as well as taking a cart, putting a cow behind it, and expecting the cow to push the cart.

It's phase-based combat with that system, and it doesn't work, because combat is so easy that your only necessary imput is often to just assign who to attack, and then wait. The phase-based system borderline works in swarming fights in which you kill one opponent every turn, but some of the later, "boss"-type fights are a pain in the ass if they pause every phase.

Originally Posted by booboo View Post
Speaking of combat: is there any way to avoid the ridiculous (and life threatening) "n-step shuffle" that the players in a party perform when they rush into attack someone?
I don't think so.

Originally Posted by booboo View Post
PS Why do "battle" mages have damage spells that take a huge amount of time to cast!? And no, standing at a distance and zapping into melee i not an options - enemies always pursue and attempt to swarm you.
Actually it does work. At lower levels people will try to swarm you, but as you progress in the game you'll notice your tanks are more capable of drawing people towards them.

If you target someone with an Ignifaxus that is not being targeted by anyone else, that enemy will disengage and go for your battle mage. If you target someone already being attacked by one of your warriors, then you shouldn't have any problem.

It can be a bit annoying early on, but in the later parts I just doubled up with Ignafixusses from a battle mage and charlatan.
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March 17th, 2009, 13:55
Originally Posted by booboo View Post
Speaking of combat: is there any way to avoid the ridiculous (and life threatening) "n-step shuffle" that the players in a party perform when they rush into attack someone? I just point-click and say "attack". Is there some better way? Enemies also tend to move erratically, so choosing the closest one as a target doesn't always help. I tend to pause a lot to re-assign combat commands.
It doesn't really matter for the most part. The game is turn based, what you see between turn and turn is just user interface, the computer running the animations with pathfinding to where they're supposed to be. It may seem like they're running all over the place, but in reality, for all the game cares, they were in position A at turn T and position B at turn T+1

PS Why do "battle" mages have damage spells that take a huge amount of time to cast!? And no, standing at a distance and zapping into melee i not an options - enemies always pursue and attempt to swarm you. Fortunately i have a goodish AR…but still, at least a few quick combat spells (even if they drain a lot of AE) would be good (if they exist, I have not found them). Care for another acronym?
It's based in the Dark Eye ruleset, my guess is that those spells take several rounds to cast in the ruleset so they also take several rounds in the game. I believe in the world of TDE magic users are more of a 'fighters with spells', different from what we're used to which is 'dudes in robes with a walking stick casting magic missiles every round'.
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March 17th, 2009, 19:49
Originally Posted by wolfing View Post
It's based in the Dark Eye ruleset, my guess is that those spells take several rounds to cast in the ruleset so they also take several rounds in the game.
Right.

In Aventuria, Wizards are usually rather intellectuals who wouzld rather stay in their study rooms than go out into an adventure. So the wizards you see in the game are rather an exception of the rule, not the normality.

Plus, magic items are actually much, much more rare in the *real* world of Aventuria than within the game. In that point the game kind of breaks the setting. Aventuria is a rather low-fantasy, low magic world, in its tendency.


A very important difference to (A)D&D, for example, is that the class of the Clerics from (A)D&D does not exist. There is nothing that comes close to that, especially, since most TDE Gods don't allow magic users as their priests (or, the "consecrated ones", trying to find a term that comes closer to the TDE terms). Praios is the most extreme example of a God being completely against magic, but in some rare cases consecreated ones/priests can be magic users, too. But the general rule is that they are not.

There is a distinction between the power granted by gods and the magic. Usually, both are not there with the same person, although there are few exceptions.

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March 17th, 2009, 20:31
Yes, I couldn't believe how many magic items were there in Drakensang. We played entire campaigns in which not a signle character found a magical weapon. This usually gives mages a slight advantage, because the weapon of a mage (classically a staff or a rapier) is often the only magic weapon in the group, and the only weapon that can hurt certain creatures (such as demons).
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March 17th, 2009, 21:23
Yes, I did notice Drakensang's rather odd pacing compared to TDE, though I should again note I'm used to 2nd edition. The amount of XP, ducats and magic items went way, way beyond anything I had ever seen in my DSA-playing days.

Alrik: hang on, now I'm confused. Clerics don't exist, but priests of sorts do, or did. I could recall priests of Rondra were pretty popular amongst players, in fact.
(priest is not the right word, but I don't know what word would be)
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March 18th, 2009, 03:19
Without really knowing the D&D ruleset I think this is what Alrik meant:

Priests in TDE do not cast spells. They "work wonders".
They do not do this with Astral energy (=Mana), but with Karma. They only regenerate Karma if their god (the GM…) grants it to them, not automatically. So it is not a power that naturally rests within them and with which they were born with, but one that is bestowed upon them by the deity they serve, and only if they serve him in a "righteous" maner (which the GM decides again).

In terms of supernatural powers that priests have:
There are miracles (to boost certain attributes or talents that correspond to their deity) and liturgies. You could compare liturgies to spells, but there are some key differences: they are put into five (or six?) categories depending on their power.
A liturgy to bless some water would be category I, a liturgy to banish a mightier demon category III, etc. They cost different amounts of AP to aquire (50, 100, 150, etc.) and have different additions to their tests. All tests are cast on one value, the Ritual Lore value (not on individual values for each spell like for normal casters), which also consists of three attributes and is raised according to category E. Depending on the "liturgy level" (I - VI) these tests are harder (+0, +2, +4, +6, +8, +10) and they cost different amounts of Karma (5, 10, 15, etc.).

I think thats basically it

To give some examples of liturgies for my Hesinde priest (goddess of knowledge, magic and arts):
- One where you can find stuff you're looking for in books incredibly fast (or even in libraries, just by touching the book spines).
- Another one where you can read any written language, no matter if you know it or not.
- One where he can turn his staff into a glowing snake (to scare off superstitious bandits for example).
- One to detect and interpret magic

Etc.

Obviously some of these have effects you can not achieve through mere sorcery.
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March 18th, 2009, 03:39
Funny, I don't think we had that "regenerates only if granted by God" rule, or at least we didn't use it for 2nd edition, KP would just regenerate like AE. It works a lot better with that rule, tho'

Still had a lot of fun playing a Priest of Rahja one time, tho'. He could turn water into wine, summon a mist that would make everyone in it drowsy, that kind of Rahja-esque stuff.
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