I think it’s high time I introduced you all to the game that made me the person I am today.

Ladies and gentlemen: Neverwinter Nights.

Neverwinter Nights is now, has been and hopefully forever will be on the PC.  This is the game that got me into Forgotten Realms, PC gaming which lead to console gaming, it was my first RPG anything and truly groundbreaking when it first came out.

First released in 2002, I probably didn’t pick it up until about 2003/2004.  I generally don’t tend to buy games if they’re much more than $20, and that generally takes about a year or so.

Now when I first picked up Neverwinter Nights, I never would have considered the path it has led me down now.  I remember it was just after I had moved out here to Mississauga, and I was trolling through the PC game section of a Wal Mart when I saw it.  I have always been a PC gamer, but tended to the smaller flash games until this caught my eye.

Naturally I went “Oh, wazzat?” and was sufficiently intrigued enough to take it home, much to the bane of my mother.  And I say this because once I started playing it, she began to wonder if I was still alive.  I would get up in the morning, go down to my computer in the basement, and not resurface again until it was time for me to go to bed, often forgetting to take in meals despite the fact mum would call down for me.

My famous last words were always “One more minute mum!” and of course several hours later she’s tell me my dinner was cold.

I lost an entire year of my life to this game, I was so immersed in the story and the graphics which to me were completely stunning.  I had gotten Neverwinter in the summer, and later in the year I was able to pick up the two expansions, Shadows of Underentide and Hordes of the Underdark when they came out closer to Christmas and the new year of 2004.  I had heard later in 2004 that three mods had come out as well, Kingmaker, Witch’s Wake, and Shadowguard; but was never able to pick them up and play them as you had to pay for them online.  That is, until now.

See ladies and gents, I was lucky enough to receive the Dungeons & Dragons: Neverwinter Nights Complete for Christmas, which is the entire Neverwinter franchise in one package.  Neverwinter Nights 1, 2, all the expansions and mods, so guess what I’m playing again after all these years?

I freely admit there is no small amount of nostalgia that influenced my decision to play Neverwinter Nights again.  And while there are some things that frustrate me, it’s still an awesomely fun game.

So the story of the original campaign bounces around Faerun a bit, but stays largely in the North and is divided into four chapters.  The first takes place soley in the city of Neverwinter (hence, Neverwinter Nights), the second chapter takes place in the surrounding wilderness, chapter 3 takes places largely in antother city called Luskan, and I can’t quite remember where chapter 4 takes place.

But the running theme of the game is ‘find the cultists’.  In chapter 1 you’re introduced to the city of Neverwinter, and the plague called the Wailing Death that is ravaging the city.  You, a young, up and coming adventurer, are tasked with finding a cure, and discover the plague was caused by a group worshiping some ‘Old Ones’ and calling themselves the Cult of the Eye.  The cultists of course flee the city after being discovered, and the rest of the game is hunting them down and eventually destroying their Old Ones.

Based on 3rd Edition Dungeons and Dragons rules (back when it was…y’know…GOOD) it has online multi-player capacity though I never used it then and have no intention of doing so now.  And the game actually ‘rolls’ initiatives and stats in the chat window so you can see how badly you failed a role or how awesome your godlike powers have become.  Cool, but admittedly it gets frustrating when you fight a lone goblin and need to go back to a conversation to check on something an NPC just said 5 minutes ago, and have to scroll through a bajillion layers of stats for everyone in the battle.

My biggest complaint is the speed.  Granted I might just need to upgrade my RAM, but that’s not the whole thing.  Right now I’m playing a Druid Shifter, so I have an animal companion and a summoned animal.  Now my thing is that it’s a tad frustrating when you go into a dungeon and need to stop every few feet for your rogue to take like 5 minutes to unlock a chest or clear out a trap.  Not to mention the fact that my henchman tends to get stuck behind objects when I have both of my animals out, so it’s a touch buggy to boot.

It’s very easy to play, the controls and mechanics not being much different from most other RPGs before and after it was released.  Just point and click on where you want to go or what you want to attack, and voila!  Done.  You get to custom create your character down to tattoos and tattoo colors which was really, really big and cool and awesome.  Now not so much because I know all the big RPGs do it, but it was a huge thing to me at the time.

And because it’s based on D&D rules, you of course have 11 standard D&D classes to choose from: Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, and Wizard.  Each class can be customized with feats, stats, as well as a ‘package’ for each class.

Packages as defined by NWNWiki: “A package is a pre-defined set of preferences for building a character, including preferences for ability increases, skills, feats, domins, spell schools, spells, animal companion, and familiar. Each package also specifies the class it is for, as well as the starting gold and equipment given to  player character when that package is chosen at character creation.”

I’m playing as a druid right now, and I went for the Shapeshifter package as that will give me the Shifter prestige ability when I move onto Shadows of Undrentide.  I’ll get to be a dragon yo!

I think what I like most about it, especially the 2nd time around, is the graphics oddly enough.  They were fabulous when they first came out, and are still pretty awesome despite the fact that the figures look a little like those poseable artist figurines or those really old school rag dolls.  Kinda adds to the whole nostalgic feel.

So yeah, I am in for a fun trip down memory lane, made even better because I finally get to try my hand at the Kingmaker module so there’s something new in there too!  Yay!

I’ll be posting reviews of the expansions and mods as I play them, so stay tuned!  And after this, I’m tackling Neverwinter Nights 2 again.  Hopefully this time around I’ll be able to complete the darned thing….

Next on the gaming docket (providing of course I don’t get distracted by something shiny), the first Neverwinter Nights expansion: Hordes of the Underdark.

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