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Written By:

Ed Fortune
dark alliance

Dungeons And Dragons Dark Alliance is a game that comes with a lot of expectations. For a start, it’s heavily inspired by a much beloved early 00’s game called Baldur’s Gate Dark Alliance, a memorable Hack and Slash game that worked really well when played with friends. It also draws heavily on RA Salvatore’s beloved Companions of the Hall and the setting of IceWind Dale.

To put it another way, this is fantasy combat game heavily influenced by some classic Dungeons and Dragons stories. It’s a very, very pretty and advanced version of Gauntlet with some heavy fantasy influences.

You pick up the role of one of four heroes; the agile and stabby Drizzt, the incredibly fast and bow using Cattie-Brie, the tank like Bruenor the Dwarf and the slow but powerful Wulfgar. You’re up against a ‘Dark Alliance’ of evil monsters who seek to a thing called the Crystal Shard, a magical artifact that could turn you into a god.

All of this is set in the frozen and inhospitable IceWind Dale. You’d think that setting the game in snowy mountains would be an excuse to keep the graphics simple, but instead they’ve gone all out here; we get impressive flames, shadows, snow and horrible beasties. It’s a visually stunning experience.

Game play wise, it has kept the core of idea behind Dark Alliance here; run round smashing up monsters and gathering loot and level up skills and special attacks. This is a game designed to be played a lot and at various levels of difficulty.  Once the novelty of running around as legendary hero Drizzt Do’urden and chums has worn off and you’ve stopped admiring the scenery, what we have here is an addictive button basher that you’ll keep coming back to.

Combat requires thought and planning; it’s not that it’s slow, it’s that the tempo of the game is quiet followed by furious action, then quiet, then more action.  The various challenges the game presents are all about getting the timing and strategy right and then bashing away (though they are options to circumvent most of  that if you just want to kill goblins.)  Bigger risks lead to better kit, which encourages you to take more risks and so on.

You’ll be tempted to use the save function a lot at the start of the game but there’s a risk/reward factor here. The less time you spend saving your progress, the greater the potential for better treasure. It’s a nice use of a push your luck mechanic though it can be frustrating.

This is a smash-em-up co-op game designed to be played with friends; the entire vibe of the game is about showing off cool moves and beating up baddies. Alas couch co-op wasn’t enabled in the version we played, but we’re told it’s coming and honestly, we feel that this a game that will excel with a crowd of friends in close proximity. Something to look forward to.

Overall, a nice update of a mostly forgotten and under-rated genre classic. Get the game, get some friends and go save Icewind Dale from the Dark Alliance.

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