RPGs made outside of Japan and North America tend not to get a great deal of exposure, but we've had some great European produced adventures over the years. Due for release on March 27 is Drakensang, a single-player fantasy RPG from German development studio Radon Labs and dtp entertainment AG. We caught up with Claas Wolter, Senior PR Manager at DTP, to find out why RPG fans should be interested.
VideoGamer.com: For anyone who hasn't been following Drakensang, could you briefly summarise what it's about.
Claas Wolter: Drakensang is a classic RPG, which brings back party-based gameplay and turn-based combat, set in a real-time environment. Drakensang takes place in The Dark Eye universe, a medieval, central-European looking fantasy world called Aventuria.
The game tells the story of a hero who is called by a friend to the city of Ferdok. When he arrives there, he discovers that his friend has been murdered - and now the player starts to unveil the mysteries of an ancient conspiracy...
VideoGamer.com: Can you explain how the combat works? It appears to be a mixture of real-time and turn-based combat.
CW: Indeed it is. Originally, the TDE universe featured turn-based combat. In Drakensang, you'll find the option to play combat in real time as well - while in the background, the software separates every action in to turns.
Originally, players had to toss die for every move and action. Action points and a tests are calculated for each move - deciding, whether for example an attack or a defensive move turn out successful or not.
In Drakensang, players have the chance to pause the gameplay at any time to give their orders for their next turn, including the option of stacking action orders to plan multiple turns in advance. By unpausing the game, every command will be followed and displayed in real time action. Turn enthusiasts can watch every toss of the die in a console.
VideoGamer.com: Lots of RPG fans are used to the D&D rule set. What rule set does Drakensang use and what are the key differences to D&D?
CW: It's the rule set of The Dark Eye system, Germany's leading RPG pen & paper system. Rules are less complicated than in D&D, giving players the chance to easily adjust to the system.
VideoGamer.com: One of the big things in RPGs at the moment is the idea of the player being able to make choices, so two players don't have to take the exact same route through the game (as seen in games like Mass Effect and Fable). Does Drakensang feature anything like this and to what degree does it alter someone's experience?
CW: There's one big story which leads players through the game - but Drakensang also features a lot of side paths, even changing the surrounding environment depending on the players' decisions.
Also, Drakensang has got a huge replay value by choosing different classes, characters and party members, who differ tremendously in their gameplay. It feels completely different playing the game with a mage, for instance, when you've played with a dwarf before.
VideoGamer.com: One criticism we've seen levelled at the game is its clichéd storyline, setting and characters. Do you think this is a valid criticism or do you think gamers want more of this Lord of the Rings-esque fantasy setting?
CW: Drakensang is definitively not another Lord of the Rings cliche RPG. The Dark Eye universe is set in a medieval, very European fantasy world which has got a really unique look and atmosphere. When wandering through the cities, you feel like being in the old towns of central European cities, watching framework architecture and flora and fauna from your home.
It's not like being in a far away cliche world, it's like taking a trip back in time to the medieval world that has been around here some centuries ago - except of the fantasy creatures, of course... ;)
VideoGamer.com: In the past Germany has produced some well received RPGs that don't do as well in other countries (Gothic for example). Why do you think this is?
CW: Tough one. I think it's not "Germany" producing these games. And I think it's not the fault of these games not performing that big in other countries.
There are German developers and publishers that haven't had the chance to grow to the size of a BioWare or Blizzard yet, which means that they can't put that much international marketing efforts into their games as the named companies can do. Given this, the awareness of "German games" is a little less big - but that doesn't mean that it's less fun to play these games.
We're lucky guys, because we have the help of Eidos Interactive in your territory. :)
VideoGamer.com: It seems that the single-player PC RPG is something of a dying breed, with developers moving towards MMORPGs. Is there a danger the epic single-player RPG will die out completely?
CW: We don't think so. There's still a huge demand for single player RPGs, as figures show. Even in the real world outside Germany... ;) We got a lot of feedback from MMORPG players, telling us that they are extremely happy to have the chance to take a single player trip to Aventuria, pausing their MMORPG and returning afterwards.
VideoGamer.com: Has a console port ever been considered? Could we ever see the game on Xbox 360 or PS3?
CW: Currently we're focusing on PC.
VideoGamer.com: The first game is only just arriving in the UK, but the sequel has already been announced. For anyone who's already got their hands on The Dark Eye, can you tease them with any information on the sequel?
CW: Actually, it's a prequel that'll tell you a new story in the near area of where the Drakensang plays. You'll meet a lot of familiar, but also new characters.
We're gonna to unveil more information on the new Drakensang: The River of Time soon.
VideoGamer.com: Finally, who should be excited about Drakensang?
CW: Every RPG fan who likes medieval and fantasy settings - give it a try, explore the world, feel the fantasy and enjoy a huge sip of Ferdok pale ale, Aventuria's most famous and tasty beer (which also plays a major role in the game).