Title: Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide
Developer: BioWare, Floodgate Entertainment
Publisher: Infogrames
Release Date: June 18, 2003
Platform: PC
ESRB Rating: T (teen) for violence

Basics and Background

Shadows of Undrentide is the first expansion pack released by BioWare for Neverwinter Nights. SOU is a single player adventure that takes approximately 20 hours to complete, at least according to the literature. Your mileage may vary. The basic premise is that you are an adventurer-in- training under Master Drogan, whose enclave is in a remote village called Hilltop. Just when you are getting ready to complete your final task prior to graduation, the adventuring school is attacked by kobolds. Your master is injured, and it falls upon you and your chosen henchman (or henchwoman) to save Drogan and recover four mysterious, powerful artifacts. More important than the artifacts themselves is the discovery of who wants these magical items, and why. It is up to you to find out!

The game is supplied on a single CD-ROM which you need to have in the drive while playing the game, unless you are running the Linux version.

Controls, Movement, and Inventory

Game controls (moving around, fighting, spellcasting, etc.) are basically the same as in the original Neverwinter Nights. You can, however, now control the inventory of your henchman, which is quite nice -- as long as you actually remember to do this! It is possible that your henchman has a much better weapon in their inventory than the one they are currently equipped with, and now it falls upon you to make sure they equip it. The game has also been made somewhat more difficult in that your henchman doesn't automatically respawn at the healing temple when they die. When your henchman is near death (that is, they have only one hit point!) they will fall to the ground and ask to be healed. You have a limited (but usually sufficient) time in which to heal your companion; after that, they disappear, and you have to go back to base camp to retrieve them.

Gone are the days of being able to teleport freely out of a fight as many times as you desire. Your character is equipped with a ring that will allow you to teleport to safety, but ONLY in Chapter 1 and ONLY if you have a "focus crystal". You start the game with three focus crystals, and can make more if you have the proper ingredients. This does give teleporting a measure of inconvenience, and I found myself doing a lot of walking!

Improvements and Enhancements

Some of the AI issues that bothered me about the first game appear to have been remedied in the expansion pack. The henchmen are more reliable when it comes to noticing traps, picking locks, and following your instructions. They tend not to get "stuck" as much. The monsters and other enemies also seem to move a bit more intelligently. From what I've read on the forums, however, not everyone agrees, and some players claim that the game AI is buggier than in the original NWN.

A number of new creatures have been added, such as the Stingers, a race of scorpion-like beings, the Formians, who resemble ants, and female giants. Between the new creatures and new tilesets (Desert and Snowy Rural), Shadows of Undrentide is visually very interesting.

The publicity for Shadows of Undrentide was very enthusiastic about the addition of 5 prestige classes. When leveling your character up, choosing certain feats and skills can allow you to join a prestige class, which will proffer various benefits and skill enhancements. The prestige classes are the Shadowdancer (which makes bards much more powerful), the Harper Scout (a society devoted to fighting evil), the Assassin (good choice for evil rogues), the Blackguard (described as the "Anti-Paladin") , and the Arcane Archer (improves archery and grants magical enhancement to ranged attacks). I will not go into great detail here about the prestige classes, since this information is readily available on the BioWare site, (http://www.bioware.nwn.com) and I haven't yet played as any of these classes. During the game you will encounter NPCs that are members of the prestige classes; you can learn from them the benefits and principles of membership in their respective class.


I know that I should not expect expansion packs to demonstrate the same depth and scope as the original campaign, but I can't help but feel that the story was a little lacking. I have downloaded numerous fan-created modules, and some of them showed far more creativity and plot originality than Shadows of Undrentide. This is not, of course, to say that SOU is not fun -- it is quite enjoyable, just not spectacular. There aren't as many side quests or diversions, and fewer of the NPCs will talk to you. (I am one of those people who enjoys talking to everyone, turning over every rock, and examining every object.)

The sound effects and music seem to be a little cheesier in SOU, as well. The henchmen voices are rather grating at times.


Overall, Shadows of Undrentide is a good, solid game that does justice to its parent game, Neverwinter Nights. Yes, the story could have been better, but perhaps I'm just being too picky. At $30 U.S., Shadows of Undrentide is a little on the expensive side considering modules just as good (in my opinion) are available for free download, and that the original 60-hour campaign is now only about $40 U.S. I'd give the game three and a half out of five stars.


The Shadows of Undrentide game manual

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