Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance Impression
It’s quick and easy to get to grips with the basics of combat, but there is clear room for mastery in areas like parrying, dodging, and making the best use of combos and skills.
Dungeons & Dragons video games have seen a resurgence the past few years, and Tuque Games is adding to that with a spiritual successor to the Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance action RPG series. RPGamer was given the chance to check out Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance, playing through one of the game’s missions, complete with a boss fight at the end.
Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance is based on the Legend of Drizzt book series by R. A. Salvatore, with the game taking place just after fourth book in the series, though players almost certainly won’t need to be familiar with the series to enjoy the game. A group of up to four players takes control of Drizzt the rogue and his allies Catti-Brie the ranger, Bruenor the fighter, and Wulfgar the barbarian through a campaign made up of short missions across Icewind Dale, overcoming the assortment of threats within and earning all the more powerful loot as the go. Between missions players return to their base in the mountains where they sort through their loot and change their loadout, including equipment and character feats.
When players select a mission, there are a number of difficulties available, which is large part of the game’s intended longevity. For our first run through we went on to find a forge in a volcano and defeat the Verbeeg chef at the centre. It’s difficult to judge any story at the moment, but the events and quips, particularly from enemies, suggests that it uses the events and conversations more as a complement to the hack-and-slash action and brutal setting. Throughout the missions players will encounter groups of enemies and environmental hazards — in this particular example there were a set of timed spikes as well as floor section lava occasionally spurts through and a small bit of platforming — as well as some token roadblocks to overcome be finding an item needed to advance. Battles can also feature environmental hazards that players can utilise to their advantage, or ignore to their disadvantage.
The controls were easy to pick up after a minute or so of messing around and getting familiar with them. Players have access to a light and heavy attack and can combine these in multiple ways to form combos. Each character has a ranged attack that can be aimed, as well as two abilities with cooldowns — one activated by quickly pressing the ability button, with the other by holding it down — and an ultimate attack that can be activated when the relevant bar is filled. Players can also block/parry, evade, and jump with quick button presses, and have access to four usable items, again used with a simple press.
Though the combat can look and feel like a free-for-all, the characters are still able to act in their class roles, such as tank or healer. The importance is much less pronounced, but a well timed and place ability, such as healing circle, can prove vital to keeping party members up. It’s quick and easy to get to grips with the basics of combat, but there is clear room for mastery in areas like parrying and making the best use of combos. The game looked good with flashy combat and animations and plenty of details and effects in the locations, and it seemed to run smoothly despite some occasional input delay, though this appeared purely due to the remote setup of the demo. There’s an appreciable assortment of loot, with the individual equipment pieces shown on the character models, furthering the pleasing sense of achievement the game provides when players do find new gear.
After a successful first run on the easiest difficulty and equipping of the loot picked up, we then re-did the mission on the next level of difficulty. The step up in challenge was evident, but it did provide a useful showcase for the game’s checkpoint system. At certain points, players can choose to rest, replenishing themselves and activating a checkpoint that they can return to if the party wipes. However, be choosing not to activate the rest spot the party gains rarity bonuses for the loot picked up, providing a fun risk-versus-reward choice. Despite a party wipe, we still managed to reach the boss, though it was quickly evident that’d need a mixture of more experience with the game and stronger characters before we’d be able to emerge victorious.
There are some nice synergy touches, and co-op absolutely feels like it’s going to be the best way to enjoy the game. Players can help their fallen allies get up, while occasionally a button combo prompt on screen will let them do a follow-up attack to one of the allies’ strikes. There’s also a bit of competitiveness in Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance, as the after action report will display all of the various stats from the mission, highlighting those that have done the best in the individual categories. There were some things that felt like they could be more on the players’ side, particularly with the game’s camera. Its position on the demo often felt a bit too close, making it hard to see when other nearby enemies are attacking, and it’s hard to tell too apparent when and for which enemies the lock-on function is active.
Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance launches on June 22, 2021, for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. Tuque Games plans to release free content post-launch, including new levels and difficulty ranks in the summer and fall of 2021, alongside a larger expansion titled Echoes of the Blood War that will add a new playable character, more levels, and more.