Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The Scourge of Worlds: A Dungeons & Dragons Adventure (2003)

This is basically a DVD-version of those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books that were popular back when I was a kid, and which are making something of a comeback in the modern day with "visual novels" and the like.  Basically the format is that you get 3-5 minutes of video footage of the characters doing their thing, and then the DVD pauses until you choose one of two (or very occasionally, three) options for what they should do next.

For instance, the film/game starts with a scene where the main characters have been hired to apprehend an old friend.  When they catch up with the person in question, he says he is searching for an ancient artefact which can eliminate all evil from the world, and asks them to let him go.  You have the choice of whether they take him into custody as they are being paid to do, or do as he asks and let him continue.  Depending on which you pick, the next scene either involves them deciding which route to take the guy back, or has them sitting in a tavern trying to work out what to do for money since they just blew their job.

Depending on the choices you make, everyone can end up dead, you can basically save the day, or something in between.  The Scourge of Worlds does a pretty decent job of giving a sense of their being multiple routes through the story, despite a relatively low number of different actual scenes (less than 30 overall).  After a couple of play-throughs it becomes apparent this is accomplished by having only a couple of 'key' decisions that you get funnelled into by different routes.

So how is it?  Well, the CGI wasn't exactly cutting edge in 2003, so it looks pretty rudimentary now.  I mean, it's by no means the worst I have seen, but the characters' movements tend to be ungainly and their expressions pretty static.  The voice-acting isn't terrible, but it's not up to the task of overcoming the stiff animation or the rather leaden dialogue.  Plot-wise, I doubt it will offer any real surprises: you'll figure out what's going on pretty fast, and then it is just a matter of finding the correct set of A or B decisions to get the best ending.

This is an interesting curiosity for players of Dungeons & Dragons, but for anyone else it is probably not worth your time.

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