One of the many brilliant ancient Greek videogames philosophers once commented that most hardcore RPG players spend their lives in one of two modes. The first mode is addiction, where he or she is currently addicted to and thoroughly enjoying a good RPG. The second mode is one where the player spends time searching for a new RPG to fill that massive, empty void of nothingness which appears the instant an RPG is finished.
If you’re anything like me then you’ll be so desperate for that next RPG hit that you'll flick through the manual while the game installs, waiting until nobody is looking and then pressing the pages to your nose to get an actual sniff of those character statistics. Mmm - new game smell!
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As you entertain yourself with this ritual and turn through the pages it may become abundantly clear that Drakensang’s character development system is complex to the point of super-sanity. Most experienced RPG players will appreciate that fact, obviously - and if it's complexity you're after then Drakensang will have you covered.
The story for the game starts with you getting a letter from a friend. Your old pal needs your help as he's become entangled in a cliché plot straight out of some kind of fantasy RPG - pfft, imagine that! Your first task is to make your way to the nearby city of Ferdok to meet up and help him out of his terrible blight.
Ferdok is a city widely known for its famous female lancers and beer which – unlike the real world – apparently helps to instil an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity among the city inhabitants. However, it seems that not all the inhabitants are happy drunks as a recent string of murders has the city up in arms - a series of events that inexorably draws you in.
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The aptly named world of Aventuria is a remarkably pretty and detailed one, much of which probably stems from the fact that it's based on a pen-and-paper RPG system that's apparently as popular as Dungeons and Dragons in some countries. The graphics have been craftily and lucidly put together and the art has obviously come from a team that's intimately familiar with the original PnP, but unfortunately that doesn't do a lot to hide the fact that the story is constructed mainly from obvious RPG cliches.
These tired RPG stalwarts don't stop at the contrivances of the plot either - you can expect to bump into characters such as Granny Goodbeet, Traveller Trueman, Alchemist Aurilia and of course, good old Pracelot Shufflewick. No, we didn’t make that up, it is actually in the game.
The plus side to this though is that players are at the very least right at home in the game world in some ways, especially when it comes to processes like loot collecting - animals and foes often drop their loot handily on the floor for you to pick up and the animals have even had the foresight to lop off their own limbs and place them for you in wooden spinets upon death.