This computer remake of a classic pen-and-paper Dungeons and Dragons campaign was developed by Trokia Games and published by Atari in 2003. It is rated T.

The game is the first to be based on version 3.5 of the Dungeons and Dragons ruleset. It is often placed in comparison to Neverwinter Nights, the first major game to attempt an accurate rendition of the 3rd Edition of the D&D rules, but the two are very different games.

This is primarily because NWN is (obstinately) real-time, while Temple is (unashamedly) turn-based, and secondarily (and only slightly less importantly) because NWN was built around multiplayer gaming while Temple is quite decidedly single-player. In addition to these, Temple adheres to the original rules far more strictly than NWN does. The number of individual differences between the rules of NWN and Temple is almost beyond count, but the vast majority of these are quite minor; only someone truly obsessed with both games would notice even a fraction of them. I'll not bother listing them here, but suffice to say that someone who has only played NWN will have a slight learning experience if they play Temple. The most notable difference is perhaps that the level cap in Temple is level 10, while NWN goes to level 20 out of the box, and can reach level 40 with the second expansion installed. For this reason, Temple is much less forgiving than NWN, and makes for a harder game.

The graphics in the game are suprisingly pretty. Though the camera angle is fixed, and the backgrounds appear to be pre-rendered, the characters, NPCs, and monsters are all 3D models with the same "wow, that looks like a sprite" quality seen in (for example) Silent Storm. Most impressive, perhaps, are the cloaks the characters can wear, which flap about convincingly in the wind or when the characters move. Another nice touch are the little overlays the game presents when you are about to cast an area of effect spell, which neatly show which creatures the spell will hit and which it won't; a terribly useful touch that NWN could dearly have used.

The plot is terribly simple, but also suprisingly broad. The D&D rules, for those not familiar, make use of a two-axis alignment system. One axis runs from good to evil, the other from chaos to law, giving a total of nine alignments. When you begin the game, the first thing you must choose is an alignment for your party. This will determine which opening scenario you will see when the game begins, and also which alignments your party members may be, as every member must be within one "step" of the chosen alignment. The Lawful Good opening, for example, begins with you rushing to the aid of a caravan that is under attack, and then running off to inform the dispatchers of the caravan about what has happened. The Chaotic Evil opening, on the other hand, opens with you in the midst of slaughtering a helpless peasant village, where you are told (by a dying peasant) of some bandits that already took everything; you decide to seek out these bandits. All nine openings, it should be noted, have you running off to the village of Hommlet, to meet with some person or other, and all nine quests eventually lead to the game's namesake Temple.

The NPC dialogue ranges from the passable to the corny to the unintentionally silly. I never heard anyone remark "You spoony bard!" but it came close at times.

The game is slightly buggy. Before purchasing it, I had heard rumors to this effect, and so took the precaution of installing the available patch before starting the game for the first time. Even having done so, there is the occasional quirk, although none of these are fatal.

This game, being a strictly accurate interpretation of the D&D 3.5 ruleset, is not recommended for the uninitiated. The manual is piss-poor as a learning tool, and the in-game help is only slightly better. The player new to D&D would be well off buying the actual D&D Player's Guide, or better yet playing Neverwinter Nights, or best yet finding a friend obsessed with the game and getting them to teach you. Maybe get them to shower first, I don't know. Just don't let them steal your copy.

The Temple of Elemental Evil (a Classic Greyhawk Adventure, natch) is an excellent game for those willing to endure its flaws, and those who already know the rules. Anyone who doesn't fall into either of the above categories would be best off staying far away. It's not quite as plot-filled as the Baldur's Gate games, and not anywhere near as user-extensible as Neverwinter Nights (though vice versa is probably true, heh), but it's still quite enjoyable for all that.