Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance live review


I can’t look you in the eye and tell you that Dark Alliance is a great game because it isn’t. Every rational bone in my body knows it. This is the kind of game you can play for an hour and don’t need to see it anymore because you’ve made up your mind. This game, you think, sucks. And I would have a hard time telling you otherwise because to some extent it is true. Dark Alliance makes a terrible first impression, stumbling like he’s drunk and falling and dribbling at you. “What happened to the show I loved? »You will hesitate. “Where is the local cooperative? ! Why does it look like an Xbox 360 game ?! And why does checking it make my chopsticks seem clogged with Marmite ?! ‘ But – and there’s a but – he’s a cultivator, I promise. Hours later, I’m really quite a fan of it. It’s silly, yes, but since when was it a bad thing?

Let’s go back a bit first. Dark Alliance is the Dungeons & Dragons hack-and-slash (or action role-playing game, or beat-’em-up, or whatever you call it) series from 20 years ago that people remember because it allows you to play with friends on the same console. But now, in this reimagining of the show, you can’t. You have to play online. Oh. And this is one of the main reasons it starts poorly, because yes you can play it on its own, and you will try to do it first, but it feels lonely and a bit aimless without someone to do it. ‘other.

Alone, there is no one to revive you when you are down, so you will be forced to respawn. Alone, there is no chance to unleash team attacks, which are powerful. Alone, there is simply no respite, and everything will come for you. And when enemies pile up from all angles, they interrupt your attacks, mess up your blocking timings, and kick you while you’re down. It’s not a lot of fun.

Me, the barbarian and my ranger buddy. This should give you a good taste of what it’s like to play, although the village center is not included in the pictures. I have since learned some better moves!

Exacerbating this is kind of a muddy feeling to control the game. Dark Alliance lacks a zip and there seems to be a delay in everything you do: open chests, pick up collectibles, jump, attack, even sprint. It’s not great for an action game. This is made worse by the fact that Dark Alliance is a lot like Monster Hunter in the way it locks you into animations when you attack, which quickly depletes your stamina. I use the Monster Hunter comparison but it’s not done as well as in this game, and this approach gives you a feeling of direct control.

Add to that a generally dated appearance – I don’t know why they didn’t care about the textures on the faces of the four main playable characters – sometimes choppy performance on Xbox Series S (at 1080p), wooden animations and demeanor. enemy so dumb that sometimes they hardly seem to move at all. The whole thing seems devoid of inspiration or imagination, and is not done very well.

Seems – It’s getting better! It gets better the moment you play with someone else. You can either host (publicly or privately, via invites) or use matchmaking, which works well. Sometimes that gets you into a game where you can’t play the character you are because someone else is, and you can only have one per group (there are four characters); and sometimes that puts you in a group with people of a much higher or lower level. But it’s only really a nuisance when you want to raise the challenge rating and someone is reducing the power of your combined group so you can’t. In general, however, he finds people who you can play with quite well.

(However, I was unable to get in-game voice chat to work on Xbox Series S. I guess it’s there because little voice icons sometimes appear but nothing comes through. Still, I enjoyed the silent understanding that enters its place, and you can always bypass it with Xbox Group Chat instead.)

The hub of the village. It’s not even really a village, it’s more of a camp. Here you will find a merchant who upgrades the equipment, you will choose your missions, gather your party and collect your loot.
My Wulfgar the barbarian. Write down my Potency Index (2662) where my ability scores are located. This should be high enough so that you can select more difficult challenge ratings for the missions.

When grouped together, the game suddenly takes on its full meaning. The characters are designed as a whole, really divided into four. They all complement each other. Large, heavy enemies that are nearly impossible to beat in melee can now be kited out to damage people behind or at a distance, and smaller enemies that frustrate more agile characters can be pushed out of their way. Suddenly there is energy and life in the game, and all that breathless silence between your attacks is filled in by someone else.

The levels themselves speed up, as people collaboratively find and collect collectibles, which are automatically split between you (although you will have to collect gear from chests individually, as it spits out a piece for each of you. you). And best of all, if you fake something and die, that’s okay because you can just be revived (and endlessly as far as I know). I even come to the idea of ​​restricting all admins (leveling, equipment and haggling) to the central area of ​​the village, as this prevents people from having fun in menus during missions and slowing things down. .

Play this way for a while and a deeper appreciation for the game will start to set in, and as you increase the challenge rating, a strategy will emerge. The moves you unlock (which you buy between missions) have various status effects, and you’ll start to pay attention to what they do and how best to use them. You will start to block and be less reckless with your assaults, and you will begin to understand how team attacks are triggered, how executions are triggered, and keep an eye on them.

It is an important spectacle: an optional rest. You can either take it and replenish health and potions, refresh abilities, and establish a new checkpoint to respawn, or you can choose to increase loot rarity instead. Try to do the latter if you can!
The environments can look quite impressive. They have a good sense of scale and greatness, and there are big bosses to contend with.

Look, none of this completely transforms the game. Dark Alliance doesn’t suddenly gain elegance and finesse just because you’re playing with other people. Enemies always do stupid things, like regrouping and trying to attack downed teammates who are invincible (pretty useful under the right circumstances), and there’s always a rudeness to the experience at the heart of the game. you once endured now becomes very endearing. Now that I’m used to the rhythms of the fight, I like it. I charge with a flying knee, then charge a huge swing with my hammer that literally throws goblins into the air like golf balls and sends them flying over cliffs. Who wouldn’t appreciate that?

I find the joy of living through difficult battles with my brand new pal Cattie-Brie (ranger / healer), we each resurrecting each other countless times. And I’m always excited to go back to the center of the village after a mission to see what loot I’m going to get. Missions generally get better too, more impressive and grandiose, and there’s a lot more to see. Factor in all of the different challenge rankings (which I guess is what the Endgame involves: relaunching them to acquire the best gear sets) and there’s a substantial amount of play here.

So Dark Alliance is not a great game, but I don’t think anyone has suggested that it is, hence the cheaper price of the game, hence the game being on Game Pass. Once installed, it’s heartwarming. It’s like comfort food: moreish. It’s not too smart, it’s not too taxing, and it’s better that way. And above all, I want to play it more.


About Johanna Gooding

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