Many of them are adventures that require a lot of math and theory-crafting-- video game mechanics that aren't for everyone. This led to its license holders branching out to different kinds of game genres. The result was some D&D anomalies that don't best represent the tabletop game nor were they serviceable video games either. Here are five examples each for D&D's successes and blunders in the video game industry.
10 EYE OF THE BEHOLDER (BEST)
If a game holds enough legacy to be responsible for traditional RPG heavyweights like the Grimrock series, then it deserves a spot in this list. Eye of the Beholder can be best summed up as a first-person D&D game. It may be a pixelated gem to this day's standard, but back in 1991, it was immersive.
The gameplay is simple: you take your party in the dungeons and you click where you want to proceed in its dank and treacherous corridors. Despite the simple premise and the standard story, Eye of the Beholder was well received back in its day and was unanimously praised by critics. As mentioned earlier, games like Grimrock wouldn't have existed without Eye of the Beholder's innovation.
9 DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS: DRAGONSHARD (WORST)
Back in the early-2010s, real-time strategy games were on a roll. A lot of PC games during that time were isometric point-and-clicked wargames designed to sate the armchair general in gamers. Dungeons & Dragons: Dragonshard is an attempt by D&D to carve its own spot in the RTS genre.
Sadly, it didn't do so great despite being released back in 2005. It tried to marry both it's dungeon-crawling RPG segments with the standard RTS fare back then popularly used by games like Warcraft III and Red Alert 2. The world simply wasn't ready for such a hybrid and it seems the same can be said for the developers since Dragonshard was ultimately a clunky and awkward RTS game.
8 ICEWIND DALE (BEST)
When developing games to replicate the magic of D&D, one doesn't really need to go beyond the isometric party RPG format. It's arguably the best way to represent D&D. That's why Icewind Dale, released in 2000 was one of the best D&D-based games even today which uses the Infinity Engine.
What sets Icewind Dale apart from the likes of Baldur's Gate was its focus on the D&D rules instead of the narrative. Icewind Dale is all about creating your party from scratch and then min-maxing (something the developers knew you would do) before you pit them against hordes of enemies. You don't get the same character attachment as in other Infinity Engine games but Icewind Dale works nonetheless.
7 DRAGONSTRIKE (WORST)
Going back to 1990, another weird D&D game was released but it was neither an RPG nor an RTS: it's a flight simulator game named DragonStrike. It's one of the most bizarre mash-up of genres ever and D&D's attempt to create its own Tiger-Heli game except instead of controlling killer chopper, you get to control a dragon.
While that in itself seems like a novel idea, there's really nothing special to flying a dragon once you realize that it basically controlled like a helicopter. Even the fire breathing comes out like attack helicopter ammunition. Really, you could have easily replaced the dragon with anything that's capable of flight and receive the same level of fun.
6 NEVERWINTER NIGHTS (BEST)
Before developer Bioware sold its soul to Electronic Arts (oooh), it was an RPG master. Also, before timeless classics like Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age, or Mass Effect, there was Neverwinter Nights. It was one of Bioware's finest iteration of D&D and was filled with all the usual Bioware trademarks.
Moreover, it was Bioware's most ambitious goal for D&D; that is, to bring the full D&D experience to the digital screen where you could join a session or try your hand at being a Dungeonmaster. That isn't to say that Neverwinter Nights didn't have a story, it's Bioware so you can expect some riveting narratives as the icing on the D&D cake.
5 FORGOTTEN REALMS: DEMON STONE (WORST)
It was only a matter of time before someone made a D&D-based hack-and-slash action game. Demon Stone is the fruit of that crazy idea. It's just too bad that the execution could have been so much better. The fast-paced combo-based combat and gameplay is the exact polar opposite of what D&D has come to stand for in video games, which is RPG tactics and strategy.
Being set in the D&D universe just made the title's existence more out-of-place. Apparently, it also had a big production value with Patrick Stewart lending his voice and even R.A. Salvatore doing the story. Still, that didn't save the game's repetitive and shallow nature.
4 BALDUR'S GATE (BEST)
We're referring to all Baldur's Gate games for this one as it's really hard to choose which is the best among them especially if you grow up playing these games. Anyway, we're going so far as to say that Baldur's Gate games best understand the spirit of D&D. It's such a legendary game that there have been several remasters down the road.
Considering Baldur's Gate was first released back in 1998, that's one heck of a legacy. It's also made by Bioware and was even better than Neverwinter Nights as the characters are simply more memorable and the story is grander. To sum up Baldur's Gate (whether the second or first), it's one of the finest D&D campaigns out there.
3 IRON & BLOOD: WARRIORS OF RAVENLOFT (WORST)
You wouldn't expect D&D to have a beat 'em up fighting game like Street Fighter or Tekken, which is why Iron & Blood: Warriors of Ravenloft shouldn't have existed at all. No offense to the developers who worked hard on it but the game was a disaster and an obvious cash-in to fighting games' popularity back then.
While the latter normally shouldn't be frowned upon, Warriors of Ravenloft was just broken. You often had to wrestle for control of the camera which is really odd for a fighting game. Even the reviews for the game took shots at the lackluster fighter roster and moves and the general quality of the game, or the lack thereof.
2 PLANESCAPE: TORMENT (BEST)
Planescape: Torment, quite possibly, has the best story and premise ever in video games. While it did utilize the cliched amnesia plot device, Planescape tied it well with the gameplay. As a result, the D&D and RPG gameplay were so meta, you actually get to know more about your character as you level them up and explore the world.
It was released back in 1999 and ever since then, the way RPGs were written and presented was changed forever. The goal is simple: you need to find out who you were as the Nameless. The non-pretentious, non-cookie cutter plot and narrative makes Planescape: Torment the most unique solo D&D campaign-- something that was never replicated to this day.
1 DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: DAGGERDALE (WORST)
Dungeons and Dragons: Daggerdale tried to renew the video game community's interest in the franchise but it failed miserably. At first glance, you can easily mistake it for Kingdoms of Amalur but trust us when we say that game is a lot better and a lot less generic than Daggerdale.
Most critics who reviewed Daggerdale also claimed that it wasn't just a bad game, but also a bad use of the D&D name and formula but that should already be a given since it's an action RPG, something that's not really the core spirit of D&D. It's so bad that after playing Daggerdale, you'll have to play through Planescape: Torment and Baldur's Gate to remind yourself that D&D still has hope.