Tales from Candlekeep: Tomb of Annihilation
I think? After doing almost every mission available for like 7 hours in total, and only half of the overland map used, the game seems to be over. I guess you're meant to replay it on different difficulties, but I see no real incentive to do so.
The D&D stamp on this game might lead some to the assumption that this is an RPG, but it's actually the videogame port of a cooperative tactical turn-based board game based on a 5th edition storyline ("Tomb of Annihilation" - no idea where that "Tales from Candlekeep" is coming from, the game is set in Chult, not the Sword Coast). To my knowledge the videogame is singler player only though and there isn't really much story to it, just the bare bones of one. Most of the missions - whether main or side missions - feel exactly the same, and also look the same, since there are only two tilesets, jungle and tomb, and the randomly added tiles are very similar and non-descript. It also sounds the same all the time, as there are only three pieces of music in the game or so. The mission goals are either killing a certain number of enemies, exploring the board for a certain number of tiles, finding a certain number of chests, disarming a certain number of traps, finding the exit or other special tiles amidst the ordinary ones, and sometimes defeating a boss.
The rounds are split in three phases for each character: 1. Hero Phase, in which you can move and do one action (attack, disarm, use abilities or items - some of them are free to use, in addition to your one action, but most are one use per mission only, unless reactivated); 2. Exploration, in which a new tile is added, provided your character is standing at the open, unexplored edge of a tile already on the board; if they aren't, you get a so called "Encounter" instead, which is mostly something dangerous, like a spell attack on your character, a status affect (Disadvantage or Stunned) or new monsters spawning. You can prevent this if you've build up enough special energy (I forgot what it's called in game) by defeating monsters, but if you've used up all that energy, you just have to accept the potential damage. 3. Villain Phase, in which monsters on old and new tiles attack. So the general idea is to end your turn on the edge of a tile and at the same time try to defeat the spawned monsters, so you can avoid punishment through "encounters". And that's mostly it.
The four heroes of which you can choose up to three for each mission once unlocked (which happens pretty soon, after the first couple of missions) are pre-defined and don't level up. The whole party "levels up" occasionally, but that only means you get rewards in the form of random loot boxes with crafting materials in it. You also get crafting materials from completing missions, and possibly from defeating enemies and opening chests on the board, I think, but it really doesn't matter that much, it's just random resource names thrown at you with no real relevance in the game; from time to time you've accumulated enough of that stuff to craft something that leads to an improvement of +1/+2/+3/+4/+5 for a hero's regular weapons/abilities, once-per-mission abilities and armor (but I have no clue what they are actually added to - your attack value? the damage value?).
The DLCs just give your heroes advantages that supposedly reduce grinding for resources; I played with the DLCs installed but disabled them in the game's main menu to see how the regular game is like first. But apparently this didn't prevent the heroes from already having some of the best stuff in the game equipped, as I later found out. So I can't really judge how the difficulty would have been without the DLCs. With the DLCs installed (though partially disabled), the Normal difficulty was very easy most of the times, but you could still be overpowered due to bad luck and unfair events occasionally. I found it also mattered a great deal who was in your party. The fighter, Dragonbait, is nearly invincible with his 15 hp and double attack (that can deal 2x6 damage if succesful, while monsters only have 1-6 hp most of the time; though maybe that was due to the DLC weapon). The other characters who have only 7-9 hp and in part only deal 3 damage with their regular attacks can have a much worse time when on their own; especially on higher difficulties. I tried that once and it was rather frustrating; they can die from just two hits and/or a bad encounter, in a single round (for each mission you get two "healing surges" to revive fallen heroes, if you run out of them and die again, the mission fails). All in all the difficulty didn't seem to be balanced very well, and the "cheat mode" DLC didn't help much either there.
I don't know why I kept playing - what can I say, I like tactical turn-based combat with fantasy monsters and D&D flair, I also like board games, and what is there is working fine, but there really isn't much variety or totally fair challenge here; I don't exactly regret buying it in a sale just to try it, but I probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone else, unless you're a total fanboy of anything with the D&D stamp on it, regardless of how good it is and how much it actually has to do with the P&P system or not.
Post edited January 13, 2018 by Leroux