Beamdog presents the enhanced edition of Neverwinter Nights for review on the PlayStation 4. Like their other efforts at refurbishing classic Dungeons & Dragons titles such as Icewind Dale and Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition (NN:EE moving forward) aims to introduce modern console players to older titles.
NN:EE is, for better or worse, as older players will remember it from its original release back at the start of the millennium. The 3D graphics, simplified player options, most popular mod packs, and long chains of quests are largely unchanged. Beamdog did not lessen any of the menus or steps needed to use items, cast spells, or perform other actions. The DualShock 4 control scheme is as simple as possible to accommodate this, but will still require a lot of menu maneuvering to take even the simplest steps in order to advance in the main game, expansion packs, or included mods.
Time has not been kind to NN:EE. This isn’t exactly Beamdog’s fault, as there’s only so much spit shine that can be done on an early 3D Dungeons & Dragons game. When NN was released in its vanilla form the questing was simplistic, environments clunky, and overall devoid of the intrigue that contemporary titles like Baldur’s Gate or even the flawed Temple of Elemental Evil came equipped with. Later expansion packs and created mods provided better writing and quests but never got over the dull experience of the core engine.
The PlayStation 4 is not a good place to revisit NN in its now enhanced form as NN:EE and makes the strong case NN:EE might have been better left alone. The menu navigation that was once handled via a mouse takes a bitterly long time with the DualShock 4. Selling items, or even finding the right thing to equip, is a tedious trek through bumpers and triggers to earn whatever paltry sum or tiny power boost awaits at the end. Navigating the different settings is also a rough time as the ease of pausing and moving the screen to issue precise orders, when needed, involves a lot of touchpad fiddling then unpausing to hope the intended action is taken.
Mechanically, it remains as easy to break as ever for those veterans of the old titles but holds little appeal for newcomers. The time-consuming controls are just the start as NN:EE looks about the same as it did in 2002. True, the PlayStation 4 allows for greater resolution, but we’re dealing with assets as they existed at the time. The unnatural glints of armor and blocky environments, even in the later expansions that featured greater variety, lose what little rough hewn charm they once possessed when blown up in scale and resolution.
The presiding question that reared itself as I once again tackled the tedious main game was – why bother? NN was, itself, a dry run at 3D roleplaying games that was later surpassed by then-developer BioWare’s later titles. I was bored with NN at the time and this PlayStation 4 version highlights the cracks in its already unappealing history. If you want a better roleplaying game, BioWare already has that covered. If you want a good story or visual novel, the market is now flush with them. There’s no reason to revisit this outside niche historical curiosity.
Game was played and reviewed using a provided review code of Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition for the PlayStation 4.
Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition
Only the hardest of hardcore Neverwinter Nights fans should bother with the Enhanced Edition. It was never a great experience, even with the better writing in the expansion packs, and the seventeen years since its release show how much better later and even preceding titles are.
- Comprehensive collection of expansion packs and mods for Neverwinter Nights give a full scope of what the original title was capable of.
- The original title was a bland affair that time has not been kind to.
- A few minutes with the controller navigating a single item sale shows how clunkily old inventory management was handled.
- Higher resolution just means the already rough stab at 3D looks worse.
Do Not Resuscitate