Home Tech Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance review – an unfavorable initial encounter, yet it gradually improves

Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance review – an unfavorable initial encounter, yet it gradually improves

Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance review – an unfavorable initial encounter, yet it gradually improves

Give the Dark Alliance rebirth some time, and it will prove to have its own charms despite lacking polish and local cooperative gaming.
Dark Alliance isn’t a wonderful game, therefore I can’t look you in the eyes and say that it is. My body’s rational bones all know that. You could play this type of game for an hour and then decide you don’t need to see it anymore since you’ve formed your opinion. You feel that this game is a little cheesy. And it’s true to some extent, so I’d be hard-pressed to convince you differently. Dark Alliance gives you a bad first impression by stumbling in and dripping on you like it’s inebriated. You’ll cry out, “What happened to the series I loved?” “Where is the neighborhood cooperative?” Why does it seem to be a game for the Xbox 360? And why does it feel like I have Marmite stuck in my thumbsticks when I try to manage it? But, and this is a but, I assure you, it’s a grower. After many hours, I actually kind of like it. Yes, it’s stupid, but when was that ever a negative thing?

First, let’s go back a little. Because it allowed you to play with friends on the same console, Dark Alliance is the 20-year-old Dungeons & Dragons hack-and-slash (or action role-playing game, or beat-’em-up, or whatever you call it) series that most people remember. However, with this new version of the show, you are unable to. Playing must be done online. I see. It can be played alone, and at first you will, but it seems alone and a little pointless without someone else, which is one of the main reasons it starts out badly.

When you’re downed alone, there’s no one to bring you back to life, therefore you have to respawn. It is impossible to initiate team attacks—which are quite effective—by yourself. There’s really no relief when you’re alone yourself; everything will come to you. Additionally, when adversaries swarm in from all directions, they will disrupt your assaults, juggle the timing of your blocks, and kick you while you’re on the ground. It’s not really enjoyable.

Adding to this is a rather sluggish sense while playing the game. Everything you perform in Dark Alliance appears to take longer than it should, including opening boxes, gathering treasure, leaping, fighting, and even running. For an action game, it’s not that good. Dark Alliance’s attack animations, which rapidly drain your stamina, are similar to those in Monster Hunter, which makes matters worse. I make the Monster Hunter analogy, but it’s not done nearly as effectively as in that game, and this method deprives you of a sense of direct control.

Combine this with an overall dated appearance (I don’t know why they haven’t bothered to texture the faces of the four main playable characters), a performance that occasionally stutters on the Xbox Series S (1080p), wooden animations, and enemy behavior that is sometimes so stupid that it seems like it doesn’t move at all. The whole thing isn’t very well built and lacks originality or creativity.

It seems to be improving! As soon as you play with someone else, it becomes better. You may utilize the matching service, which works well, or host (privately or publically, via invitations). It occasionally places you in a group with individuals who are either much lower or much higher level than you are, or it joins you in a game where you can’t play as the character you are because someone else is, and you can only have one of them per group (there are four characters). However, it only truly becomes an annoyance when someone lowers your total group strength, preventing you from raising the Challenge Rating. But generally speaking, it matches you with rather good players.

On the Xbox Series S, I haven’t been able to enable in-game voice chat, however. Since small speech indicators sometimes appear but nothing is audible, I presume it is there. However, I’ve learned to like the quiet comprehension that takes its place—you can always use Xbox party chat to get around it.)

The game suddenly makes sense when played in groups. Actually, the four characters are basically just one large design. They are all complementary to one another. Large, hulking foes who are almost hard to defeat hand-to-hand may now be kited about to target targets from behind or close range, while lesser foes that impede the movements of the more agile heroes can be knocked aside. The game gains vitality and vigor abruptly, and the long pauses in between your assaults are suddenly filled by someone else.

The stages themselves quicken as players work together to locate and gather trinkets, which are automatically distributed among you (although you must get equipment from chests separately since it spits out a piece for each of you). The nicest part is that you can easily be resurrected (and indefinitely, as far as I can tell), so even if you screw up and die, it won’t worry you. In fact, I’m leaning toward the notion of keeping all administrative activities (such as leveling up, equipping, and merchanting) within the village center area to avoid mission-related slowness caused by individuals fiddling with menus.

After you play the game in this manner for a long, you’ll start to get a deeper appreciation for it, and as the Challenge Rating rises, strategy will start to show. You’ll start to pay attention to what the different status effects of the moves you unlock (that you purchase in between missions) do and how to employ them most effectively. You’ll start to block and become less careless with your attacks. You’ll also start to recognize and be aware of the triggers for team attacks and executions.

See, none of this changes the gameplay entirely. Playing with other people doesn’t provide Dark Alliance an instant boost in grace and dexterity. There’s still an element of crudeness to the gameplay at its heart, and enemies still do stupid things like group together and attempt to assault fallen friends who are unstoppable (which may be rather beneficial in some situations). However, what you were going through now seems quite charming. I’m enjoying the rhythms of warfare now that I’m used to them. With a leaping knee, I rush in and unleash a massive swing with my hammer that sends goblins hurtling over cliff faces and into the air like golf balls. That would be fun for who?

I get a rush from persevering through difficult fights with my newfound Cattie-Brie (ranger/healer) friend, and we often revive one another. Even now, after I finish a quest, I still look forward to returning to the village center to see what treasure I may find. There are still plenty more missions to see, and they are typically becoming better as well. They are larger and more stunning. There’s a lot of gameplay here when you take into account all the various Challenge Ratings, which is, I suppose, what the endgame entails—rerunning them to get the finest equipment combinations.

Thus, although Dark Alliance isn’t a very good game, I don’t believe anybody was implying that it was, which accounts for both its lower pricing and its availability on Game Pass. It’s reassuring once you get used to it. It’s moreish, much like comfort food. It’s better that way since it’s not too complex or demanding. Most importantly, I’d want to play it more.


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