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Neverwinter Nights (2002) (PC) artwork

Neverwinter Nights (2002) (PC) review


"Despite perennial good weather, an aura of melancholy permeates the town of Neverwinter. An epidemic has struck The City That Never Snows, and not the good kind; the cause is a plague called the “Wailing Death”, a disease whose name alone contains such repulsive connotations that one gets the sense that they’ve already been infected upon hearing the words. Undoubtedly, this would be the first reason why potential heroes from all over lately have been flocking to the Unwindy City...."



Despite perennial good weather, an aura of melancholy permeates the town of Neverwinter. An epidemic has struck The City That Never Snows, and not the good kind; the cause is a plague called the “Wailing Death”, a disease whose name alone contains such repulsive connotations that one gets the sense that they’ve already been infected upon hearing the words. Undoubtedly, this would be the first reason why potential heroes from all over lately have been flocking to the Unwindy City. The second is the chance to ogle a fine lady elf.

If you’re already familiar with the Bioware oeuvre, Neverwinter Nights should be easily digestible for you right from the beginning. This game brings much the same sort of in-depth character customization, specialized game mechanics, and morally weighted decision-making interposed with a grand narrative that the company’s titles tend to maintain. Which isn’t to say that starting out would be difficult otherwise; even if the phrase “Dungeons and Dragons 3.0 ruleset” sounds like meaningless gibberish to you, character creation can be as quick and easy or as slow and methodical as you like, and the first part of the game literally takes place in hero school where they’ll teach you all the necessary basics.

Admittedly, the main campaign doesn’t tell the most original story of evil being afoot, but the level of detail present in the setting is pretty remarkable. Night and daylight pass by in a constant cycle and weather will change--outside the city, anyway--to create drastic variations in atmosphere during your adventuring. The overall experience can also vary greatly depending on how you’ve customized your character; for instance, a low intelligence score means you’re unable to speak properly, making all your multiple choice dialogue options sound broken and barely intelligible. And townspeople often react specifically to certain qualities about you, be it race or class or current state of undress at the moment due to the “theft of equipment by orcs.”

Fighting an entire demonic cult and their minions can be somewhat overwhelming for one person, so luckily, a selection of backup characters happens to be available for hire. They’re referred to as “henchmen” in-game, which sounds a bit crass, but you’ll agree with the description when you see them genuinely act that dumb. Like when they’ll suddenly activate deadly trap explosions next to you right when you’re low on hit points… sometimes those bastards are lucky they balance out your stat deficiencies.

The main campaign should take about 60 hours to complete. That might not be enough, so there are expansion packs and premium modules to look into. Packaged along with the game is also the Aurora Toolset, a program that allows ordinary people without a whole lot of technical knowledge to create their own modules from scratch. Even if you don’t use it yourself, that means it’s likely there’s a library of odysseys up someplace. Altogether, Neverwinter Nights might be sufficient to occupy all the days you feel your own "plague" coming on.

Rating: 9/10

disco1960's avatar
Community review by disco1960 (April 06, 2008)

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