If there is one kind of gaming here at The Escapist that stands a chance of rivaling our love for video games, it's tabletop rpgs. At the time of writing this there are at least three campaigns being run in the office: two 4th edition D&D games run during lunch hours and a long running Basic/Expert campaign that will be transitioning into Oriental Adventures after capping off over two years of play. So when Bedlam Games announced Dungeon & Dragons: Daggerdale, we were intrigued, and while Dungeon & Dragons: Daggerdale isn't going to set the world on fire, it can still be fun to set goblins ablaze.
The game is typical fantasy adventure fare. Rezlus, the main big baddy, has constructed the Tower of Void in the Mines of Tethyamar in hopes of conquering the Dalelands for his dark god Bane. Obviously the story is hardly breaking any new ground, but luckily a mysterious woman defies fate to bring four adventurers to put a stop to this evil. Of course instead of getting anyone that might actually be able to solve the issue right away, she summons, among others, a first level warrior wearing cloth armor. It might be risky that the whole realm is being defended by fighter in a little more than a t-shirt and blue jeans but Rezlus has graciously left a slowly increasing progression of challenges in the way.
Daggerdale is actually the first videogame to use the 4th edition rule set, which has often been criticized or embraced partly for its more video game feel. So if you are looking for a replacement for pens, paper, dice, Cheetos, Mountain Dew and a DM, well you actually probably need to keep looking. Daggerdale leaves most of the roleplaying at the door and is pretty firmly in the hack and slash and loot category. The Dungeons & Dragons rule set has then only loosely been applied over it all. Powers, stats, race, classes and feats are all there, but it's all been boiled down, and not in the refining the goodness kind of way. Classes and races come in four predetermined combos (human fighter, dwarven cleric, halfing wizard and elven rogue). You are given stats and can upgrade them at certain levels, but they are set allocations from the start and there is no apparent benefit to not simply upgrading constitution and the stat most closely associated with your class. Feats make an appearance, but they also feel restrictive. Only a handful do something more than +1 attack or +1 damage to X specific weapon type. So ultimately characters of the same class really don't distinguish themselves.
You do get a wider room for customization with your powers and equipment. Every level you are given points to invest in your various powers, but because you only have a limited number of buttons, you'll ultimately end up favoring a few and defining your character. My primary was a two-handed weapons specced fighter and I gravitated to powers like Bladestorm, which let me clear out huge swaths of minions. Those that didn't die outright got to suffer the effects of my Fiery Greataxe of Pestilence, specifically fire damage and being poisoned. You could however choose to run a fighter using powers that slowed, stunned or knock backed enemies, thus keeping them away from squishier team mates.