Buoyed by previous success of bringing mobile games to the home console, prolific developer Gameloft clearly looks to continue the trend. This time they add to the recent resurgence in dungeon crawler games by introducing the Dungeon Hunter series to the Playstation 3. Dungeon Hunter: Alliance has seen some new additions for its planned budget release exclusively on the PSN Store next month, including four player co-op and Move compatibility. Whether it will have enough to distinguish it from the other similar dungeon crawlers that have appeared on the scene recently remains to be seen, but if the promised features, particularly regarding the Move controls, pay off well there could easily be some good hours of fun to be had.
"Dungeon Hunter: Alliance appears to offer a predictable but still action-filled and streamlined dungeon crawling experience."
Dungeon Hunter: Alliance replaces the single-player-only campaign from the iOS with a co-op campaign of up to four players, with additional players able to join locally or online. Not exactly pushing boundaries with class choice, the game allows the player to be a warrior, rogue, or mage. Players will be to select from different stat-enhancing equipment and well as direct how they level up through the various skill trees. Combat itself is a fast-paced, hack-and-slash affair, supplemented by the occasional puzzle within the dungeons. "Dungeons", though, may be stretching the word a little as the various quests will take players to a large variety of settings including forests and villages. The campaign allows for drop-in multiplayer both locally and online, with character creation being a very quick process, so players shouldn't be worried about having to organise play times between friends.
The standard Dualshock controls are relatively simple and easy to get the hang of; players can either press X to execute a regular attack or one of the remaining face buttons to execute an assigned skill. In addition, pressing R1 will allow the character to interact with the various environmental objects while pressling L2 will summon a fairy that follows the character around to create a large area attack. Death during combat is less of an issue in Dungeon Hunter than some other games, with players able to revive a fallen comrade with a quick press of R1 while standing over them. While these easy to learn controls will mean those without Move are still very welcome, the Move compatibility does appear to be where Dungeon Hunter most hopes to be able reignite the classic dungeon crawler feel. The Move controller effectively acts a mouse, directing a colored cursor on the screen. This cursor acts as one would expect of a mouse cursor in this situation, being used to select where to move the player-character to, selecting enemies to attack and so forth. Basic skills and attacks correspond to the same face buttons as on the Dualshock but the small number of extra controls, such as the fairy attack, will require special movements of the controller to pull off.
There is currently little detail regarding the story but pointers so far indicate that the story in Alliance is a remake of that seen on the first Dungeon Hunter game for the iOS. Players will initially find themselves waking up a tomb, with a fairy claiming the credit for a successful revival from death. Very quickly the first section of dungeon crawling action will be thrust upon players as they look to escape the tomb, defeating goblins on the way. Gameloft has promised a variety of dungeons, forests and villages within the land of Gothicus for players to adventure in. Hub locations will allow players to sort out equipment and loot, talk to NPCs, and gather quests. Indications are that the campaign should provide between roughly seven to nine hours of hack-and-slash adventuring. During their journeys in Gothicus, players will find that loot is shared using an automatic system. Though the exact details aren't yet clear, this system should mean that loot arguments and trading between players will be reduced, further contributing to the streamlined and easy-going feel of the game.
Visually seems to be where Dungeon Hunter needs the most work if it wants to stand out. The high-definition scale up from the iOS has been ably handled and all important objects and various bits of information are clearly visible, but there is a distinct lack of any real character. The art style is rather basic, being effectively the same as can be expected of any generic fantasy dungeon crawler and as a result this leaves Dungeon Hunter in a much more difficult position to differentiate itself. A good number of different types of enemies have been shown, but again at first look these don't have anything to set them apart from enemies that could be encountered elsewhere. Previous games in the series have been able to get by thanks to their relatively high detail compared to competitors on the iOS but for the PS3 the much stronger graphical competition requires hard work to beat and Dungeon Hunter gets caught resting on its laurels a bit here.
In the end, Dungeon Hunter: Alliance appears to offer a predictable but still action-filled and streamlined dungeon crawling experience. Whether or not it will be enough to stand out against rivals like Torchlight will not be known until players get the opportunity to sample both. Still, those dungeon crawler fans looking for the latest game to scratch that itch should certainly keep their eyes on it, moreso if the low price point from Gameloft's previous PSN entry, Modern Combat, is applied again here. Dungeon Hunter: Alliance is scheduled to be released in April 2011 on the PSN Store, although no exact date or price has been announced at the time of writing.