Video games were my introduction to Dungeons & Dragons, specifically SSI’s Pool of Radiance. Playing this game led me to purchase the original Red Box Set and guided me down the path to playing D&D. With the announcement of Neverwinter I started thinking about all of the D&D computer games that have been released. I’ve always felt that D&D having a digital presence through computer games is a great way to expand the presence of the brand. These games also serve as a great introduction to the hobby for the uninitiated.
With this in mind I thought it would be an interesting exercise to go back in time and look at D&D on the computer. There are of course other computer RPGs that don’t fall under the D&D brand, but we’ll have to save those for another time.
- Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Cloudy Mountain (1982)
Released by Intellivision this was one of the first D&D titles to be made into a video game.
- Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Treasure of Tarmin (1982)
The sequel to Cloudy Mountain.
- Pool of Radiance (1988)
Published by SSI my life would never be the same after playing this game as it served as my introduction to the great hobby of D&D. My fondest memory of this game is hiring a hero in town and then turning on him in combat so I could loot his stuff. Return to town, rinse and repeat.
- Heroes of the Lance (1988)
Set in the Dragonlance campaign setting and filling in the gaps left in the novels, this game has you playing Raistlin, Caramon and Tanis half-elven.
- Curse of the Azure Bonds (1989)
Based on a novel of the same name, this game is the sequel to Pools of Radiance.
- Dragons of Flame (1989)
The sequel to Heroes of the Lance.
- Hillsfar (1989)
Another release from SSI, this game had a blend of arcade action and adventure.
- War of the Lance (1989)
Another game set in the Dragonlance setting. This release was a turn based strategy game.
- Secret of the Silver Blades (1990)
Part of the Pools of Radiance series by SSI, this game picks off where Curse of the Azure Bonds leaves off.
- DragonStrike (1990)
Set in Dragonlance, this game has you riding your dragon and taking the fight to the enemy.
- Champions of Krynn (1990)
Published by SSI, this was the first of a new three-part series set in Dragonlance.
- Eye of the Beholder (1990)
The first time I played Eye of the Beholder I was swept away by its state of the art graphics and sound. I was completely immersed in the experience, just thinking about it makes me want to almost install the game again.
- Eye of the Beholder II: The Legend of Darkmoon (1991)
The sequel to the game listed above.
- Shadow Sorcerer (1991)
The third installment of the Dragonlance series started with Heroes of the Lance.
- Pools of Darkness (1991)
The journey that started with Pools of Radiance comes to a conclusion with this release from SSI.
- Death Knights of Krynn (1991)
This is part two of three of the Dragonlance series started with Champions of Krynn.
- Neverwinter Nights (1991)
The first multi-player online D&D game.
- Gateway to the Savage Frontier (1991)
Another gold box game released by SSI, set in the Forgotten Realms.
- The Dark Queen of Krynn (1992)
The third part in the Dragonlance series started with Champions of Krynn. The art for this game is one of my favourite renditions of Takhisis.
- Treasures of the Savage Frontier (1992)
Sequel to the Gateway to the Savage Frontier.
- Spelljammer: Pirates of Realmspace (1992)
Spelljammer is one of the D&D campaign settings I never got into and as a result didn’t give this release a second look.
- Eye of the Beholder III: Assault on Myth Drannor (1993)
Part three in the series.
- Fantasy Empires (1993)
More of a tactical war game than RPG, set in the Mystara setting.
- Dark Sun: Shattered Lands (1993)
Dark Sun gets it’s turn at hosting a D&D computer game.
- Stronghold (1993)
A city/castle building simulation game.
- Baldur’s Gate (1998)
We jump forward a few years to the BioWare age of D&D products. Baldur’s Gate set the standard for RPGs to come and indeed BioWare with the release of Dragon’s Age (not a D&D product) demonstrate that they are still setting the standard for computer RPGs. This game had an expansion titled Tales of the Sword Coast.
- Planescape: Torment (1999)
Driven more by story than action, this release received widespread critical acclaim.
- Icewind Dale (2000)
A release by Black Isle Studio’s using the infinity engine first seen with Baldur’s Gate. Salvatore fans would be familiar with the Ten Towns where this adventure begins.
- Baldur’s Gate II: Shadow’s of Amn (2000)
Rated as one of the best computer RPGs of all time, this is the follow-up to the 1998 release of Baldur’s Gate.
- Pools of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor (2001)
This game grabbed my attention for two reasons. It was the first computer RPG to use D&D 3e rules and it was set after the SSI release Pools of Radiance. Unfortunately, the game failed to impress.
- Neverwinter Nights (2002)
Released by BioWare, the big draw for this release was the Aurora toolset which would allow player to create modules and then host sessions with their players. Virtual worlds were created by the community and the game had several expansions.
- Icewind Dale II (2002)
The sequel to Icewind Dale this game featured the D&D 3e rule set and was action heavy.
- The Temple of Elemental Evil (2003)
A computer rendition of this classic dungeon. The game used the D&D 3.5e rule set and was published by Atari, the only company to still retain a D&D license.
- Dungeons and Dragons Online (2006)
The modern MMO for D&D, the game has gone free to play in the past year. Set in Eberron the game uses a hybrid D&D 3.5e rules system.
- Neverwinter Nights 2 (2006)
While this game had it’s share of bugs it was also a welcome back to the Neverwinter World. Featuring the D&D 3.5e rule set it is the last game to be published for D&D on the computer. The game had several expansions.
- Neverwinter (2011)
The next chapter in the history of D&D on the computer. Time will tell how this game holds up.
I’ve invariably missed a game or two in this list and I’ve deliberately omitted games that weren’t released on the PC, such as D&D Heroes which was released for the Xbox. In compiling the list it becomes apparent that there was a large D&D computer RPG appetite in the early 90s. From 1990 to 1993 there were 17 titles released. Clearly the time to create a computer game in today’s environment is more involved, I simply would love to see more computer D&D content be released. Another interesting note is that video games now seem to be turning into role playing games. World of Warcraft, Everquest, and Dragon Age have all transitioned off the screen and onto the page. Time will tell if this is a trend, I for one would love to see a stronger D&D presence via video games.
What are your memories of the titles that are listed above? Did any of these game serve as your introduction to Dungeons & Dragons? Do any of the games stand out to you in terms of their story or advancement of technology?