Dark Alliance is a Dragons & Dungeons game that is hoping to bring new players to the franchise and do justice to the books which makes you wonder, is Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance worth it? Dungeons & Dragons is a well-known franchise and there are a lot of games set in the universe. Dark Alliance is a licensed D&D game. It has four iconic heroes from the franchise in an epic setting. The 4 iconic heroes show the game’s deep-rooted relationship with the franchise. It is a combat-heavy game that does not have a lot of focus on story and adventure. Dark Alliance can be played in both solo and coop mode but it is better in the coop mode.
Despite being a different kind of Dungeons & Dragons game after a long time the game fails to keep most of its promises. There is a lot of repetition and the lack of a good story makes it even worse. Most of the game revolves around blasting your way through enemies to reach another location. It’s also an adventure game but there isn’t too much of an adventure. Kill enemies, progress ahead, kill the boss, grind for XP, and unlock abilities that is all players have to do. There isn’t enough enemy verity to keep an area interesting for long. There are also bugs in the game which can be annoying. All this makes you wonder, is Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance worth it? Let’s find out in detail.
Dark Alliance takes place in the Icewind Dale region of the Forgotten Realms of Dungeons & Dragons franchise. The four heroes protect the 10 towns from forces of evil. Wulfgar, Drizzt Do’Urden, Bruenor Battlehammer, and Catti-brie are the four heroes. These four heroes are some of the most famous from the D&D franchise. They have to collect the crystal shards which can change the tide of war. The story does not go deeper than that as it is only there to support the game. It is just a generic story of heroes saving people from utter destruction that we have experienced many times. The four heroes are trying their best to stop the bad guys from doing so.
There is a massive amount of lore in the game spread throughout the levels. You can find references and lore through paintings, tombs, scrolls, etc. Reading the lore will give you insight into the world of Dungeons and Dragons. The game does not have a story-driven narrative so don’t expect deep lore from the story alone.
The art design of levels is good but the formation of levels is not that good. Nearly all levels feel the same even if they look different which reminds me a lot about Godfall which has a similar problem. It shares other seminaries with Godfall as well but you will figure out later if you have played that game. The levels look good and their art design is pretty interesting but the game itself is kind of bland. Levels are different in terms of looks but they share the same design at their core. Is Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance worth it? to you for its level design and premise. There is more to it.
The levels are mostly linear from beginning to end. All levels are pretty much straightforward from beginning to end with little variations. You will follow a linear path and then end up in a large room full of enemies. You kill enemies in that area and then move to the next area. At certain levels, there will be a side area that will lead to a small room which will be a scaled-down version of big areas. Side areas can also lead to an alternate path of a level. That’s about the gest of it as all the levels nearly follow the same pattern.
Every mission starts from the hub. Players have to select missions from the hub area. There are 7 acts and 21 missions in the game, each act has 3 missions. Each act has a specific theme that makes it visually different than others. There will be a big boss that you have to work towards. Defeating the big boss act as the final phase and the act will complete once that happens. Most of the missions revolve around destroying certain items or defeating enemies. There is a great amount of repeatability in the game.
Once you complete a level then it will remain unlocked even if you have completed that level in someone else’s session. The level will remain open even if you are playing solo. Doing so can mess up the order of your story but it’s not like the game is story-heavy. You can understand it even if you play it in such a manner. Is Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance worth it for its acts? Well, there is more to the game.
Combat is the central focus of the game and it is one of the better aspects of the game but even that has a fair share of problems. You can get lost in the immersion of its fast pace combat. Enemies will be attacking you from all sides so combat is relentless. Combat is fun when played with friends but playing it solo is not that great. I will get to the solo and coop aspects later on.
Character animation is stiff which can be problematic in combat. The combat is not too responsive as well and your character can get stuck in the middle of an animation. You will be attacking the enemy but your character will be stuck in the animation of another attack which can ruin the combat experience. Such attacks can mess up the flow of combat. Archer has the most horrible animation as the only moving part in its body is the upper part.
Lock-on camera mechanics is also not that great as it can get you too close to enemies. It can even result in messing up the combat since characters are stiff. You can block and parry attacks from enemies but it won’t make much difference whether you block or parry. The two moves are different but their end result is the same. The game is chaotic and timing can be problematic when in a team since enemies will be attacking you from all sides.
Effects and feedback of attack are also not that good. There is also environmental damage such as poison, frost. fire etc. You can use these environmental hazards to damage enemies as well. Is Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance worth it to you for its combat? There is more to the combat than this.
The combat of Dark Alliance seems like a combination of beat ’em up and hack & slash action. The game is rough but it’s not horrible. It gets better as you unlock more abilities of a character. AI of enemies is not that good if not downright dull. Enemies are not responsive to your advances and they might not even attack you unless you start trashing them.
Despite having dull enemies the combat is still intense and chaotic. If you are not careful then you can die in a matter of seconds. The intensity of enemies also depends on the difficulty. At higher difficulty, enemies will have more health and their damage output will increase. Enemies can even one-shot you even if your gear is not that good. So gear is more important than skills for difficulty. Increasing difficulty only beef up enemies and increases their damage output, it does not affect any other aspects of the game. Is Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance worth it for its chaotic combat? Let’s discuss some more before concluding.
There is not enough enemy verity as most enemies are variations of each other. There are different races of enemies such as goblins, ogres, trolls, frost giants, etc. but there are only a handful of enemy types in each race. Even most of the bosses are the beefed-up version of the same enemies. Bosses can either be brutes that will constantly attack you or they might become your punching bags. A pack of enemies will have different creatures to make the combat more varied. It’s like the game is cheating its way by creating the illusion of vast enemy types.
There is no character creation and you have to play as one of the four heroes from the D&D universe. Each hero has different abilities, stats, and attributes. You should try all of them as it will help you select the one best suited for you. Each character levels up separately when you play as a certain character then it will help in unlocking abilities for that character. It will make that character better and powerful. Once a character reaches the max level, you can then play as the other character to max out its levels.
Voice acting is not the best but it is good. Music and sound effects are also good which help in making the gameplay better. The personality of enemies stays true to their race. While not in combat, Goblins will mumble about taking body parts as souvenirs, Ogre will talk about food, Cultists will talk about rituals, and so on. Voice acting of character will support the narrative and heroes will also make comments depending on the situation.
Dark Alliance will reward you for exploration. The map has chests, crystals, gold, etc. that you can use to upgrade the gear. Exploring the side area will help you get more stuff since it has such items. One of the major issues with exploration is the team. The session owner will attract all party members and you can’t go too far from the session owner. The game will forcefully fast-travel you to the session owner. So if your session owner is rushing and does not want to explore then you can’t do it either. There might be traps or hazards on the map so be careful when exploring them. Is Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance worth it? For its general gameplay? There is still more to it.
You can complete all missions on basic difficulty. You will get rewards upon completing missions and won’t be able to see the loot until the mission is complete, similar to Anthem. The only way to upgrade stuff is in the hub as you can’t upgrade anything while in the mission. The performance of your character directly depends on the gear you are using. Items have three aspects, rarity, rank, and level. You can change the level but not the rank and rarity of items.
Each level up will get you attributes and ability points that will help in advancing a character. You can unlock all the abilities once you max out your level. However, you cannot unlock all of the attributes. So you have to carefully select which attributes are more important to you. There is dexterity, charisma, etc. so max out the ones that support your playstyle.
The higher the difficulty the better is the loot. Players are supposed to grind on a higher difficulty to get better loot so that they can face enemies on an even higher difficulty. Such gameplay mechanics are common in loot-driven games. The problem with Dark Alliance is that you only get equipment with better stats. The rarity of equipment is not dependent on the difficulty. So difficulty will only crank up the stats of items and nothing else. You will constantly be replacing equipment for better ones since loot is only about numbers. Is Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance worth it to you for its loot mechanics? Let’s decide that after its solo and coop aspects.
Some gear sets are exclusives to certain characters. Gear pieces have their own appearance so every gear piece is unique visually. There are a lot of customization options for skins. You have to use gold to get skins for your character. Gold is the in-game currency and there are no microtransactions. So the only way to get gold is through the completion of missions. The lack of microtransactions is good since you don’t have to worry about spending extra on items. You also need to get consumables using gold so it is one of the major things you would need in the game.
The game has good graphics but it’s not great. The level design does justice to the franchise even though their formation is not that good. You get the feeling of a high fantasy setting all around you. Enemy design is good and matches their personality. Their clothes, voice-over, and movement will match with the type of creature they are. You can complete the entire game in 15 to 20 hours depending on the number of side activities you do. It only costs $40 which is $20 to $30 (Next-Gen Games Prices) less than AAA games. Two free DLCs are on the way so it has repeatability value.
Solo or Coop
Playing Coop is the best way to enjoy Dungeons and Dragons Dark Alliance. It makes the game more fun as playing solo can get boring quickly. The game seems hallow without teammates you can get bored with it pretty quickly. Chatting with your teammates is important as the combat can get messy if you are not in contact with your teammates.
Even the monologues and comments of your character seem out of place since they are directed toward teammates. If there are no teammates then these comments and monologues seem nothing more than mumblings. It seems like developers made a coop game and then later included solo mode without making any changes to make it good for solo gameplay.
There is no in-game store or microtransactions of any kind. When you buy the game then you are getting a complete package. Two free DLCs are coming as mentioned earlier but don’t expect anything else. It is not a live service game so it is only going to receive updates in the first couple of months. The good thing is that there is already a matchmaking feature so you can play it with randoms. You don’t have to worry about having friends join you in the game. Is Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance worth it because it is not that good in solo? Let’s discuss the verdict.
Dark Alliance is a certified D&D game that is trying to refresh the franchise with a new tale. It has its own fair share of problems despite staying true to the lore of the tabletop game. It features some of the most iconic characters from the franchise in an iconic setting. D&D Dark Alliance was supposed to be the game that focuses on both solo and coop gameplay. However, the coop is the only good way to get the most out of it. It is a loot-driven game where the central focus is getting better loot to perform better in combat.
There is no proper story or adventure to make the game interesting. It is all about blasting your way through enemies, grind for XP, unlock new abilities and get better loot. There isn’t enough level and enemy verity to keep the game interesting. Most missions are reminiscent of each other making it a repeatable experience. There are also bugs in the game but none of them is game-breaking. The raw gameplay is fun it just needs tweaks here in there to make it better.
Now let’s answer the question is Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance worth it? Well, if you are a fan of the series and want to experience a new game from the franchise then Dark Alliance might be worth your time. It has a fast-paced combat-driven narrative with not much of a story. So if you are expecting a mediocre hack/slash and beat ’em up action, then it might be a good catch. In short, it is a good game if you are coming at it with a forgiving heart. It is the type of game that you should get on sale.