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Neverwinter Nights

Developer: BioWare Publisher: Atari
18 June 2002
Neverwinter Nights - cover art
Glitchwave rating
3.37 / 5.0
0.5
5.0
 
 
220 Ratings / 1 Reviews
#1,325 All-time
#53 for 2002
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2002 BioWare Atari  
3xCD-ROM
XNA 04042008827
2005 BioWare Atari  
DVD
XNA 7 42725 26819 7
2010 BioWare Hasbro  
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Neverwinter Nights Enhanced Edition
2018 BioWare Beamdog  
Neverwinter Nights Enhanced Edition
2019 Beamdog BioWare  
Blu-ray
GB 0 811949 031396 CUSA-15938
Neverwinter Nights Enhanced Edition
2019 Overhaul Skybound Games  
Game card
GB 0 811949 031303
Neverwinter Nights Best of Atari
3xCD-ROM
ES 3 546430 110188
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Nice game mechanics vs poor campaign
I tried to play this game years ago and eventually gave it up at the start of Chapter 2, but I felt in the mood for RPGs lately so I picked it up again the past week and I just managed to finish the campaign.

So... why had I given it up in the first place? I felt bludgeoned by the game's weaknesses and quit too early to appreciate it's strengths. So I'll start explaining the weaknesses, because -sadly- I think they define this game (the main campaign) the most:

1. Be prepared for a good bag of brainless fantasy clichés. Okay... as a disclaimer I have to admit that I'm new to the d&d thing. This is the first game I ever played related to the Forgotten Realms or any other tabletop RPG setting. I've never played that kind of thing so I don't know if those stereotypes are some kind of standard or basic thing for those games (maybe I'm misunderstanding the genre, you know, like calling an action movie brainless or something like that)... I don't know, I just found everything too predictable and shallow as far as plot and character development goes. Weak stuff in those regards, in my opinion; not much interesting stuff going on there.

The quests themselves are a mixed bag, and although it would be unfair to dump them all in the 'boring cliché' category, I think most of them deserve it. Many of them have some kind of simple persuasion option apart from the straight way to solve them, but still, most felt just very simplistic (go there -> find/kill that -> bring something back). I really enjoyed a handful of them which surprisingly were way more original or complex than that, though.

2. There's some serious recycling of resources here. This one really hurt me. I can take a shallow plot and underdeveloped characters if there's something else making it entertaining, but please, don't use the same portrait for different important characters. I can take simplified locations, but please, don't make the inside of every single house in a district to be exactly the same. You know, I can take several characters sharing voice actors -which are good here, by the way- or external appereance if they are going to be of no importance to the player, and if you're going to make detailed portraits for some characters, I think it's better to leave the rest without a portrait, rather than reusing them. It breaks the immersion heavily; it's like you're in a world full of clones. Even the portraits for the player character are recycled from/for the NPCs!

3. How schematic, linear, and repetitive the unfolding of the campaign is. Each chapter has a little handful of main goals, which are achieved in one of each different locations that the chapter has to offer. When you familiarize with this dynamic, you can already figure out that every new direction in the map is just the place where one of the different quests' goals are located. I'd say that several places feel too much like a simple necessary product of a quest -instead of the other way around- and nothing more. Each of the few places are either the 'receptacle' for a quest goal, or just a path to go to it. So after a while, exploring becomes a chore because everything feels a little artificial.

To avoid a linear feeling, the game lets you chose at each chapter which part of the main quest -of that chapter- you want to do first (as I impled above, by picking in which direction you want to go first), but this choice offers nothing to the player because there is no good reason for you to go to any of these places, other than the quests themselves, which require no order nor imply more urgency than each other. There is no logic behind picking one place/quest over any other; in this regard, I'd rather the game to push the linear aspect with more honesty and just give you a reason to do any of them first. You actually feel a little lost being left by yourself to pick at whim, moreso when the avaliable world itself is not exactly built for exploration. After finishing each quest, you also have no real reason to come back to any of those places; no game mechanic excuses their existence neither are enemies respawning anywhere, so after you finish all the main quests the chapter ends, and you are teleported to a new map that simply copies the same logic for you to follow again.

That said, you are not able to go back to the places of a past chapter, and I was thankful for that. In some RPG video games, you enjoy moving through locations and going back to them, because the graphics are nice and/or distinctive, or maybe you always have something to do there that you enjoy. Even if some places in Neverwinter Nights may be cool to look at, the designers gave to a no small amount of places an unnecessary labyrinthine shape, forcing the player to go round and around the same place just to go to an upper or lower layer, making impossible a direct crossing. The reason for this is unfathomable to me (maybe to fill space wich was given no reason to be?), but it indeed makes the player to stay longer in places, despite not having anything to do in them anymore and just wanting to go. I was really glad each time all quests for a place were over and I had no reason to cross the damn same meandering place ever again. For these reasons I rarely enjoyed my stay in places and was mostly impatient to move forward.

4. The character building madness. Don't get me wrong, this is actually the game's main strength -if you play it far enough to realize- and I'll talk about that later; at first it has some serious drawbacks. In fact, the exact point where I dumped this game years ago was when I realized, underwhelmed, that I was regretting my level-up choices every 2 levels or so. The game tempts you with the choice of adding two extra classes on top of the main one, once you level up enough, but if you're new to the mathematics and ability sheets of each class, you don't really know what you're getting into, and you'll possibly regret several choices which sounded very interesting at first. In this regard, researching the potential abilities and limitations of each class -in the wiki, per example- is mandatory, or you'll become very frustrated. If you don't know the rules, things may end up feeling pretty restrictive, even when the game has an insane amount of choice regarding the customization of character abilities. I still think that some details go too far into the effect calculation fastidiousness for its own sake; like some classes being held hostage by certain alignments, even after you already are of that class. Part of the logic there is indeed a little restrictive, and in my opinion, could be stripped down just a little bit.

So, you may think, what the hell is good about this game?

1. The character building madness. It was the point when I stopped giving a funk about level sheets and what are the good/bad choices for multiclass, and just leveled up as I wanted to -with already a little knowledge about it-, when I actually started to enjoy this game. See, my main character for RPGs is an average human girl that only excels in talking and magic resistance. Other than that, she's as useful as a tiny little fart. She depends on companions for fighting, and magic, and you name it. She also has a little of magic ability in the psychic branch of things (more related to perception than to typical offensive/defensive magic), and she has a great empathy and understanding of animals, with the ability of projecting herself in a fake animal shape. Neverwinter Nights happens to have such an engine for character development that allows all of this in awesome detail. At times I had even imagined her using a spider-like projection instead of a wolf one, and as soon as I made her a rogue/druid/sorcerer -a bad multiclass choice for becoming a hero, I guess-, I realized I could eventually do exactly all of that. At the moment I could summon 3 animal companions, and walk around myself as an animal companion of my henchman. How cool is that?

So in the end, I could make her as weak or apt as I wanted to in every single area I could imagine, more than in any other RPG video game I have played until now. I just wish the campaign was more responsive to this amount of options (like the possibility of animals not attacking me if I shapeshift into one of them or things like that). I have to admit that, as I was able to capture the essence of my main character within the game, my henchman did the campaign more than I did, but that's exactly how I liked it (although the campaign is still not very responsive to it; I had him hail me as the true hero of Neverwinter, which was pretty laughable).

2. The game mechanics in general, as I already implied. That's what kept me playing until the end -and it helped me overlook the indignant only-one-henchman limitation-. Abilities, spells... the amount of choice is quite a treat. The game is quite accomplished in that area, specially for a game this old.

3. The art behind the game in general is quite good. The portraits are really cool themselves and the textures more so -obviously, in the context of early 2000's graphic possibilities-, managing to make some places look interesting despite how artificial the arrangements feel sometimes. In fact, the graphics managed to make some places interesting enough to give the plot some life (I remember the 'Warrens of the Damned', the plane of the Spirit of the Wood, and the whole Charwood part as being somewhat captivating). The atmospheric sounds and music also play their part well, but the 'artificial vibe' of some places and moments can water down their immersion effect.

Damn. I guess that's it.

So, in the end, I'd say that the problem of this game is the campaign, or more specifically, how the campaign was arranged (if you can take the kind of shallow fantasy plot anyway).
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Martin_McFly Neverwinter Nights 2022-11-25T09:10:24Z
Windows / Mac / Linux/Unix
2022-11-25T09:10:24Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Steam Beamdog GOG PC Enhanced Edition
Martin_McFly Neverwinter Nights 2022-11-25T09:10:05Z
Windows
2022-11-25T09:10:05Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
GOG PC
Martin_McFly Neverwinter Nights 2022-11-25T09:09:41Z
Windows • XNA
2022-11-25T09:09:41Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Disc PC
Yogsothot84 Neverwinter Nights 2022-11-18T17:43:57Z
Windows
2022-11-18T17:43:57Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
sshd Neverwinter Nights 2022-11-17T17:00:31Z
2022-11-17T17:00:31Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Martin_McFly Neverwinter Nights 2022-11-14T15:43:36Z
Windows • XNA
2022-11-14T15:43:36Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Disc PC
anotherandomofo Neverwinter Nights 2022-11-09T07:00:06Z
Windows / Mac / Linux/Unix
2022-11-09T07:00:06Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Guitar_Lamb Neverwinter Nights 2022-11-04T14:11:59Z
2022-11-04T14:11:59Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
fimozika Neverwinter Nights 2022-11-04T12:24:38Z
Windows • XNA
2022-11-04T12:24:38Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
IgorEmu Neverwinter Nights 2022-11-01T17:16:00Z
Windows
2022-11-01T17:16:00Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
gog
KINGATMO Neverwinter Nights 2022-10-27T20:14:34Z
2022-10-27T20:14:34Z
2.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
CaptainPlasma Neverwinter Nights 2022-10-23T04:23:28Z
2022-10-23T04:23:28Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  

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  • Clarilla 2017-07-24 04:14:22.79026+00
    hordes of the underdark is way better than main story + shadows

    btw nice to know that this game still has a scene
    reply
    • algroth_89 2019-12-14 14:40:52.522241+00
      It also holds true of Mask of the Betrayer relative to the sequel. I think DLCs often have very interesting and unique stories just because they're under less pressure to have to respond to needs and expectations for a particular title, and are freer to explore 'unique takes' on a particular setting. It's true of Hordes, it's true of MotB, it's also true of the Pillars of Eternity and New Vegas expansions too.
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  • heavymetalthunder 2020-09-11 23:44:08.369347+00
    Criminal overall rating. A fantastic adaptation of 3.5 D&D and wonderful evolution to 3D graphics in CRPGs
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  • GrayMouser 2021-05-08 20:01:31.270631+00
    I just love the game. I never found the original campaign as boring as some people find it, and the expansions are excellent.
    Lots of different environments to explore, and it probably has one of the biggest bestiaries in RPG history as well, which matters to me.
    reply
    • Aurochz 2021-08-27 05:24:14.52256+00
      I don't think it's boring in and of itself. It's boring in comparison to Baldur's Gate 1 and 2, Its own sequel, and subsequent Bioware games. I think the BG comparisons hurt it the most because most people wanted more of that at the time and the feeling of this being far less complex and not as fully realized of a world as those games has never sat right with a lot of people.

      That being said. It's almost as good as other classic Bioware stuff and far from the complete flop people characterize it as in hindsight.
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  • malacath_official 2022-07-07 17:12:10.511435+00
    I have a sour taste in my Mouth from this game tbh, I can tell it's great and I wanna try it again but I literally got 45-50 hours in before getting to a boss fight that I just flat out couldn't get past, granted I didn't know much about DND character systems so it was my fault but it still stands it was frustrating.
    The amount of content it includes is fucking insane though especially for how cheap you can get this for, maybe one day in the future I'll delve back into this.
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