I hopped into Dark Alliance blindly, after seeing only one cool trailer and nothing else. I haven’t really heard/read much about the game ever since. Still, I was excited. I can finally recreate my own D&D character in a video game! However, with my innocent enthusiasm comes dark disappointment. After watching the whole intro cinematic, I was only given the option to choose between four classes. A dark elf, an archer, a blacksmith, and a dwarf. My IRL D&D character was a turtle. So I said goodbye to Flash, and just chose the next best thing – the dark elf. To add salt to my wound, I don’t even get to name this said elf, nor customize its appearance. So I went online and investigated. What’s the deal?
Turns out, Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance is based on a series of books by R.A. Salvatore, set in Icewind Dale, featuring heroes like Drizzt, the dark elf.
Anyways, back to the game itself.
Dark Alliance controls like your typical action RPG. The right shoulder buttons are mapped as light and heavy attacks. Holding the left trigger button allows you to aim for range attacks, and the face buttons are for multiple actions including evade and various specials. Clicking the right stick locks your aim to the nearest enemy. However, the moment I started attacking enemies, I can’t help but notice how stiff the action feels. My dark elf continues attacking in a straight line even if the enemies are only a couple of degrees away from him. This makes the combat a little while to get used to. The in-game camera makes matters worse, especially when trying to lock-on to the AI-controlled opponents. It’s a beat-em-up with multiple baddies in a scene, and focusing on one enemy zooms the view to them in a close third-person perspective. Bad news, you won’t be able to react to other enemies’ incoming attacks.
Blocking and parrying feels especially off. I found it hard to time my blocks especially when my character on-screen is still in the middle of their attack animations. Dark Alliance is a combat-focused game. Currently, the combat feels like it’s the least worked-on feature during development. Finishing a mission earns you loot you can equip or sell in the hub. Just a tip, Dark Alliance lets users level up one character at a time, so I suggest sticking to a certain class after you’ve chosen one. When clearing a group of enemies, a ghostly campfire appears. Here you’ll be able to choose between resting or upgrading the map’s loot rarity. Resting gets you healed up and restores your potions inventory, which only lets you carry a certain amount per mission. This is a harder decision to make when playing on harder difficulties alone.
The AI in enemies is so bad, they only engage when you’re at a set distance. With enough patience, you can just cheese your way through everything by taking a step back, and using range attacks. Got hit in the head? Ah, must have been the wind. Even mid-bosses don’t really care about their injuries unless you’re near them.
Playing online during the game’s first week, there’s a very noticeable input delay. However, since then, I’ve been having better experience playing with random players. There’s still lag but it’s overall more tolerable.
Personally, I found it better playing with friends over party chat or discord voice chat than playing with random people through quick play. Waiting for others to join the lobby you’re in takes a lot of patience.
For a multiplayer game with branching paths, players aren’t really encouraged to explore on their own. When a party member strays too far away from the leader, a countdown appears on their screen. When the timer hits zero, they’ll be teleported back to where the host currently is. Bonus points if you fell in a lava pit when you reappeared out of thin air, because the leader just jumped across one when you rubber banded.
The game takes players to multiple worlds of themed environments. All are beautifully epic and dark, with a lot of details. However, there’s not much to do so to do asides going from point A to B. Somehow, the area and experience reminds me of that certain dungeon crawling game I played years back on my smartphone, but a whole lot more beautiful. There are puzzles you’re supposed to solve, too. But they’re only challenging when they involve platforming. Sometimes jumping from gaps can be frustrating. It’s a good thing the characters know how to hang on to a ledge and pull themselves up.
In between missions, players are dropped in a hub area where they get to upgrade their skills and consumables. There’s also a training space with dummies you can button-mash with. The dummies are also a great way to earn yourself the 200-combo achievement. Aside from upgrading and waiting for other players, there’s also not much to do here.
Overall, Dark Alliance is a fun game for quick 30-minute sessions with friends. However, I’d personally want it to stay in development for longer so developers would fix some of the game’s issues. It’s highly detailed and beautiful, but that’s the only best quality I could say about it right now.
Dungeons and Dragons Dark Alliance – Review
We want to emphasize that 5 will always be the “average” number, not 7. So by far, it’s 50% great and it’s also 50% bad.