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Drakensang: The Dark Eye (German title: Das Schwarze Auge: Drakensang) is a computer role-playing game developed by Radon Labs. The game was announced on April 21, 2006 by publisher dtp.[1] It won the "Best RPG 2008", "Best Story" and "Best Soundtrack" at the German Developer Awards in Essen, Germany.[5]

Drakensang is the first personal computer game in The Dark Eye-universe since Attic's Northlands Trilogy (Realms of Arkania: Blade of Destiny, Realms of Arkania: Star Trail and Realms of Arkania: Shadows over Riva) from the 1990s.[6]

Setting

The game takes place in and around the city of Ferdok, located in the Middenrealmian province of Kosh right in the center of the Aventuria. Drakensang is the name of a summit in the Anvil Mountains south of Ferdok.[7] The fantasy game setting is based on medieval Europe. Although the designers intended to give a unique look and atmosphere, it has no unusual revisions over the conventional high fantasy setting.[8][9] Magic is uncommon with only a few spells being available and enchanted items are relatively rare. Most gear upgrades come in the form of ordinary equipment, such as better armor.[10]

The story design was done by Anton Weste, Mark Wachholz, Momo Evers and Stefan Blanck, who all are well known as writers for the pen & paper role playing game. Drakensang's budget was approximately 2.5 million.[6]

Game play

File:Drakensang panels.jpg

The game is based upon the Das Schwarze Auge rules system, and the graphics are generated using the Nebula Device graphics engine developed by Radon Labs.[11] The player begins the game by building a starting character. There are a total of twenty character classes from which to choose, with many familiar RPG staples such as "tanks" or unusual classes like Dwarven prospectors. Each of the races can only choose from a subset of the classes. Thus an Elf can be either a ranger, fighter, or spellweaver. The classes are not restricted as to what weapons they can use, although they have different starting skill levels .[8][12]

There are eight primary attributes, and these are combined together to set the base level for various skills. The skills are grouped together into five talent pools with five skills in each. As the game progresses, the character gains experience points, which can be used to learn new skills, improve existing skills, increase attributes, learn spells, or gain special combat abilities. However, all new spells, skills or special combat abilities must also be purchased from a suitable NPC. During the game, the characters can learn various alchemical, archery and blacksmith recipes, then assemble materials to make potions, bows, arrows, lockpicks, and so forth.[10][12]

Spell casting in Drakensang is based on Astral Energy (AE). Each character has a certain amount of AE that can be used to cast spells, with the cost in AE dependent on the spell's power setting. Each player gradually recovers AE, which can also be replenished by using potions. When a player's AE draws low, the spell power level can be reduced to compensate. The effectiveness of each spell depends on its power level and other factors.[11]

When the game begins, you start with only your main character. Based on the outcome of conversations, additional NPCs can be recruited to join your troupe as the game progresses. The game allows players to create a party with up to four characters. Combat in Drakensang is evaluated as a sequence of turns that are executed in real time. The player has the option to pause the combat then issue orders to the party members for one or more successive turns. Each activity costs a number of action points that are deducted from the total for the character. The evaluation of various actions are displayed in a console that can be viewed by the player. When a character sustains wounds from combat, each wound must be dealt with individually, either with bandages or by magic spells or potions of healing.[6][8][9]

Story

At the start of the game the main character receives a letter from an old friend named Ardo who is living in the city of Ferdok. On traveling to the city, the character arrives at the hamlet of Avestrue only to find the access to the city requires the word of two notables to vouch for the party. When their trust has been gained, the character travels to the city with some new friends. There the reason for the access restrictions is revealed; recently there have been some gruesome deaths in the city, one of whom is the main character's friend Ardo. Thus begins a lengthy investigation to solve the murders in the city, which actually proves to be one of the multitude of side quests to the main plot.

After inheriting the home of Ardo, the character is drawn into the main story thread: to become the champion of the Dragon Quest. At the marshes of Moorbridge, the champion must stop an infestation of undead, then win the greaves of fire. Next, the Book of Serpent must be recovered from a ruined castle in the Blood Mountains, where dragon cultists are planning dark magic. Finally, the Dragon Eye is to be located at Grimtooth Castle, which has been overrun by orcs and dragon cultists.

In the process of becoming the dragon champion, the hero has retrieved the components of a powerful suit of armor. The character must then seek an object called the Adamantium Heart to complete the suit and fulfill his destiny. Doing so requires traveling to the underground dwarven city of Murolosh. However, gaining permission to enter the city is rumored to be nearly impossible; specifically requiring the assistant of an emissary named Gerling who has traveled to the town of Tallon. There the party is drawn into a struggle to save the town from a horde of orcs, then must slay an injured but still dangerous young fire dragon in order to win the trust of the dwarven Prince Aron.

Once invited to Murolosh, the main character helps investigate an attempted assassination and save the lovely Salina, after which they will gain the means to enter the undead-infested Deeps of Gruldur below the city. Finally, after facing much danger, the party discovers the location of the Adamantium Heart, only to have it stolen away by an evil sorceress named Malgorra. Her goal is no less than to use the stone to bring a great evil into the world. In the final battle, the party storms the snowy, dragonling-infested slopes of Drakensang Mountain to battle Malgorra, who transforms into a great, hydra-like dragon.

Reception

 Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
Metacritic 75% (35 reviews)[13]
Review scores
Publication Score
Eurogamer 7 out of 10[14]
GameSpot 7.0 out of 10[12]
GameZone 8.0 out of 10[15]
IGN 7.5 out of 10[16]

Drakensang: The Dark Eye received an average of 75% on Metacritic averaged from reviews with user reviews giving it 9.1 out of 10.[13] IGN also gave a similar vote of 7.5 praising the detail of the game while criticizing its cliches.[16] The Cnet review called the story generic and the management of characters overly complex, but said the game is fairly captivating. The reviewer noted, "Everything here seems to have been randomly pulled out of the grab bag of RPG cliches." It received a rating of three and half out of five stars, for a "very good" score.[17]

The Guardian gave it four out of five stars, and said it was "worth a look if you enjoy PC role-playing games". The reviewer noted that the game has a "bit of an image problem", which he called a shame. He said the game is a structured party affair that will be familiar to players of Baldur's Gate. He called it an "above-average adventure romp that will reward gamers who commit to the cause".[18]

The primary criticism from Eurogamer is that the game fails to sufficiently explain itself, as it lacks an in-game manual. The reviewer puts the story somewhere in between Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale, balancing story with combat. The game lacks the moral grayness of The Witcher, but "manages to be charmingly funny upon occasion". The strongest part of the game is in the mechanics. Combat include situations "which really do demand attention, thought, and running away and coming back later". However, the objectives are spread about, requiring plenty of travel. Combat has some "twitchiness", with characters running around to accommodate the player's orders. The review concluded that "Drakensang is a fine RPG which looks better than it is, due to the relative dearth of similar games on the PC in recent times".[14]

The GameZone criticized the number of cliches while calling the story ideas well implemented and the good production values. The game is deemed worth picking up because of some of the twists in the story lines. The one problem mentioned with the story is the long, involving side quests, which can cause the player to lose sight of the objective. The graphics are well thought of, although they could have been better. Voice work is strong, but there is an insufficient amount. Control of the characters during combat is called frustrating with characters responding slower than they need to. In conclusion, the game is called "a good, quality title that has few bugs, an engaging story and maybe more than a few cliches".[15]

Related works

A prequel to the game titled The Dark Eye: Drakensang: The River of Time has been announced and is slated to release early 2010.[19] As of August 2009, another game set in the same universe, The Dark Eye: Demonicon was in development by Silver Style Entertainment, the in-house studio of The Games Company.[20]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 dtp (2006-04-21). ANACONDA enthüllt neues Das Schwarze Auge-Spiel: Drakensang kommt im Q4 2007 (German). dtp press release. dtp entertainment. Retrieved on 2007-02-17.
  2. 'Drakensang Interview: From Fable to Fallout. Bit-tech (2008-10-19). Retrieved on 2008-10-20.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 dtp. dtp entertainment: Das Schwarze Auge: Drakensang (German). dtp entertainment. Retrieved on 2008-06-12.
  4. dtp (2008-07-10). Drakensang: The Dark Eye. dtp entertainment. Retrieved on 2008-08-20.
  5. The Dark Eye: Drakensang Takes Home "Best RPG 2008" at German Developer Awards. IGN (December 5, 2008). Retrieved on 2009-10-16.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Beekers, Thomas (2006-09-09). GamerNode GDC Preview: Drakensang: The Dark Eye. Preview. Retrieved on 2007-09-13.
  7. Evers, Momo (2005-03-11) (in German). Angroschs Kinder: Die Zwerge Aventuriens (1st edition ed.). Fantasy Productions. p. 122. ISBN 3-89064-202-0. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Keast, Matthew. The Dark Eye: Drakensang – hands-on. Games Radar. Retrieved on 2009-10-14.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Orry, Tom (March 24, 2009). Drakensang: The Dark Eye Interview. Videogamer. Pro-G Media Ltd.. Retrieved on 2010-08-18.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Rausch, Allen 'Delsyn' (January 15, 2009). Drakensang: The Dark Eye. GameSpy. Retrieved on 2009-10-14.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Peckham, Matt (December 17, 2008). 5 Reasons to Try the Drakensang The Dark Eye Demo. PC World. PCWorld Communications, Inc.. Retrieved on 2010-08-18.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Todd, Brett. Drakensang: The Dark Eye Review. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2009-10-14.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Drakensang: The Dark Eye. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2009-10-13.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Gillen, Kieron (April 8, 2009). Drakensang: The Dark Eye. Eurogamer. Retrieved on 2009-10-12.
  15. 15.0 15.1 David, Mike (March 19, 2009). The Dark Eye Drakensang Review. GameZone. Retrieved on 2009-10-16.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Drakensang: The Dark Eye (pc:2009) Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2009-04-13.
  17. Todd, Brett (April 1, 2009). Drakensang: The Dark Eye (PC). CNET. Retrieved on 2009-10-12.
  18. Howson, Greg (April 7, 2009). Drakensang: The Dark Eye. guardian.co.uk. Retrieved on 2009-10-16.
  19. Drakensang: The River Of Time: Prequel to award-winning RPG highlight in production. press release. dtp (2009-02-17). Retrieved on 2009-04-13.
  20. The Dark Eye. Retrieved on 2009-10-30.

External links

fr:Drakensang : l'Œil noir

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