Screenshot of Neverwinter Nights Game Cover

What is Neverwinter Nights?

Neverwinter Nights is the first game in the franchise of third person role-playing video games developed by BioWare. Initially available only on computers powered by Microsoft Windows, it was released on OS X in 2003. Taking place in the fantasy world called Forgotten Realms, it is inspired by the mechanics of Dungeons & Dragons video games. It also draws inspiration from the massively multiplayer online role-playing game released in 1991.

Key facts about Neverwinter Nights

  • Neverwinter Nights has a compelling main story and engaging side quests.
  • At the time of its release, the videogame had state-of-the-art graphics that took its toll on less powerful computers.
  • The Neverwinter Nights soundtrack helped gets players immersed into the gaming atmosphere.
  • The AI could use some improvement but overall the gameplay is competent.
  • Neverwinter Nights has a multiplayer and offers more than 30 hours of single player game play.

Gameplay of Neverwinter Nights

Neverwinter Nights gameplay revolves around the characters and their development. As a role-playing videogame, it compels players to level up, upgrade the gear and unlock new weapons. With a main storyline that seems to be divided into chapters, players need to overcome multiple challenges. With each quest, the opponents get stronger, therefore more difficult to defeat and players need to hone their skills while upgrading equipment.

The game mechanics are similar to those found in classic Dungeons & Dragons tabletop games. Strength, intelligence and agility are the main attributes, but each character has unique skills and abilities. That’s why customization goes beyond the visuals and players need to think things through before starting the main quest. It is possible to combine various attributes, to create uniquely skilled characters that can tackle various obstacles.

In addition to honing their own skills, players can rely upon untrustworthy henchmen to do their dirty work. These companions make it easier for players to progress with the campaign, unlock new quests and acquire better weapons. Players collect experience points as they complete missions and upon reaching various thresholds, they level up. The outcome of actions is determined by the computer rolling the dice, a process that runs in the background, therefore players don’t see it.

This is a legacy of Dungeons & Dragons classic games that have endured in Neverwinter Nights. Those who want to experience the thrills of the original game genre can make the dice rolls visible. This decision doesn’t change the outcome and even though it slightly slows down the gameplay, it is a welcomed diversion. This RPG is challenging right from the start and tends to get more difficult.

Screenshot of Neverwinter Nights Aenea
Screenshot of Neverwinter Nights Aenea

Plot of Neverwinter Nights

The Neverwinter Nights plot starts with the player embarking on an epic quest. He’s supposed to recover four mythical creatures, the dryad, intellect devourer, yuan-ti and the cockatrice. These are Waterdhavian creatures and they are all needed to produce a cure that will help Lady Aribeth stop the Wailing Death plague. Fenthick Moss and Desther accompany the hero on his quest and help him retrieve the creatures.

As players progress with the storyline, they realize that there are plenty of folks trying to block their way. As they try to retrieve the creatures, they are targeted by assassins trying to spread the plague. In the final stages of the campaign, Desther betrays the group and his acolytes attack the hero. The latter doesn’t give up and continues his solitary mission, trying to stop the villain in his tracks. Armed to the teeth and with the assistance of the remaining faithful, he manages to subdue the traitor.

With all the creatures gathered, the hero continues to hunt down the cultists and discovers a new thread. A strange character called Maugrin sends the group into another direction, as they travel to Luskan. Just when you think that things couldn’t get any more complicated than this, Neverwinter Nights manages to surprise once again. Aribeth joins the enemy and the hero has no choice but to confront her. In the final chapter of the narrative, players unlock one of the two possible endings. Either they kill Aribeth or she surrenders, the final battle is fought with Morag in the realm of Source Stone.

Development of Neverwinter Nights

Neverwinter Nights development was a long and tedious process, and the game release was postponed several times. The main plot was decided relatively soon, but a lot of work was put into crafting the environment. In order to get players immersed into this fictional world, the team used the latest graphics and sound effects. That’s why when the game was finally released, many computers were not powerful enough as to run it on full details. Several updates followed, but the game was released with no major bugs and could be enjoyed right away.

Screenshot of Neverwinter Nights Arkhalia
Screenshot of Neverwinter Nights Arkhalia

Multiplayer and Custom Content

Neverwinter Nights single player is compelling and players who stick to the main quest are not disappointed. However, this role-playing videogame shines brightly when played in multiplayer. A total of 96 players can compete for glory and enter persistent worlds. The game also includes combat arenas, role-play and players can get together in chat rooms to discuss gameplay.

Despite spending so much time in development, the game doesn’t have a global chat function. Those who choose to enter the persistent worlds can use the matchmaking sites to play more competitive games with their peers. The DM Client enable players to assume the role of Dungeon Master. This acts as a guide for the players and he has complete control over the world hosted on the server. Neverwinter Nights custom content is created using the Aurora toolset, which is very effective at creating custom modules.

The artisans who create custom content are commonly referred to as builders by the community. The long-lasting effect of the game was also insured by the versatility and ease of use all of the all Aurora toolset. This additional content is added to the game as hakpaks and complements the original campaign.

Where can I download Neverwinter Nights?

Neverwinter Nights was so popular that developers were provided the perfect incentive to come up with a sequel. The next installment was produced by Obsidian Entertainment as decided by BioWare. Those who fell in love with the game engine and enjoy the titles produced by this developer have several options. They can download and play Mass Effect 3, Dragon Age Origins and Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic. These were loosely based on the Aurora toolset and bear many similarities to the game produced in 2003. Fans of role-playing video games that support modding should consider Witcher 3.

Screenshot of Neverwinter Nights Ritual
Screenshot of Neverwinter Nights Ritual

What are others saying about Neverwinter Nights?

Neverwinter Nights reviews were popular right from the start and there was consensus among critics and players. Despite the fact that they had to wait a long time for the official game release, players were not unhappy. The results met their expectations and many chose to bite the sequel as well. The critics were enthusiastic and described it as a great fantasy role-playing title, or a total package for gamers.

There were some who were not happy with the manner in which the narrative evolves in the later stages. Others thought that the game was dedicating too much time to technical details, instead of the turn-based combat system. Everyone agreed that the graphics were superb, ahead of their time and generally a treat to the eye. That’s why there was not much criticism regarding the resource consuming nature of this game. Those who had a powerful computer enjoyed every hour spent playing Neverwinter Nights.

My rating of Neverwinter Nights

I can still remember the feeling I got when playing Neverwinter Nights for the first time. More than one decade ago, the graphics were so good that I used to spend a lot of time just roaming the realm. The game was far from perfect in terms of side quests and there were some technical glitches, but not enough to hurt the overall appeal. I got so involved in the storyline that I can’t really relate to those who complain that it got too twisted and complex in the end.

Without having the most engaging gameplay, Neverwinter Nights had some epic battles and powerful characters. I’ve spent just as much time playing the RPG in single player and competing against fellow fans in multiplayer. Looking back, I have a hard time naming many games that offer so much free user created content. In this regard, it’s not only quantity, but also the quality of content produced by these builders that is worth a standing ovation. This game fully deserves a review score of 9 out of 10 and is one of the few still worth playing after 13 years.

Overall Score