Back in the late nineties and early two thousands I began to cut my teeth on many of the video game embodiments of Dungeons and Dragons. I have many fond memories of sitting around a dining table rolling dice with my friends as we ventured through each others home brewed worlds. As well as many school nights spent in front of a computer monitor the size of a large microwave, ignoring my homework in favor of adventuring across the wilds of Faerun.
Neverwinter Nights is a third-person role-playing video game developed by BioWare. The original game released for PC in June of 2002, along side a content creation engine that could be used to create custom modules to play through. Three expansion packs followed shortly there after: Shadows of Undrentide in June 2003; Hordes of the Underdark in December 2003; and Kingmaker in November 2004. The game thrived as an extremely active mod community created thousands of mods that still is creating today.
Are you ready to roll the dice?
Neverwinter Nights takes place in the Forgotten realms campaign setting, in and around the city of Neverwinter. The entire game is designed around the Dungeons and Dragons 3rd edition. When you start the game you are prompted to either create a new character or use a pre-made character.
Character creation is a fairly in-depth affair. With the choice of seven different races, eleven base classes, and five prestige classes that can be unlocked after leveling a base class. You also have the option of taking on up to three different classes as you gain levels. Combined, this gives a huge amount of replay value and customization options that should make any gamer happy.
After creating your character you are thrust into a tutorial area that teaches the basics of the class mechanics and combat. Once you have completed the tutorial you begin a rather lengthy campaign that has you curing a plague and fighting back a shadowy adversary who always seems to be one step ahead. the base campaign should take around forty to sixty hours depending on how much side questing you do.
Combat is completely based off of the table top version of dungeons and dragons, with the vast majority of decision being made a virtual roll of the dice. Because of the randomness this creates, no situation is likely to come out exactly the same on different characters, or even saves, of the game.
Speaking of saves, this is one aspect of the game that you must be on top of. There is a limited autosave feature in game. However this typically only saves at the entrance to a new area. Making frequent saves in between combats is a sure way to avoid lots of heartache and backtracking.
The fact that the game released with all of the official expansions and several unofficial expansions means that you can expect to spend several hundred hours clearing all of the content. The greatest thing about this? It’s multiplayer, so you can adventure with your friends, which I highly recommend.
Aged like fine wine……kinda…..
The writing, story, and character development are what you would expect from the golden age of BioWare. Unfortunately the graphics are severely dated, and the “optimization” for console and controllers is tedious and painful to use at times. I found myself frustrated with the amount of effort it took to navigate tasks that should be simple in an RPG of this caliber. Simple inventory management and shop interactions were turned into drawn out affairs with an outrageous amount of controller interaction.
While Neverwinter Nights is a great nostalgia trip for veteran gamers, the blocky graphics and rage-inducing menu interaction will most likely turn the newer generations of gamers away in search more attractive, modern titles.