This takes me back, Dark Alliance was a hit in our household during the early noughties. Recently married we’d happily cosy up on the couch and smash out night after night of Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance. Followed by Dark Alliance 2, Champions of Norrath, etc, etc. For the time the games hit the mark square on, playable, fun and mechanics that made sense.
Google might tell you Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance is one of the best D&D video games, I’m not here to disagree. This re-work is coming from Black Isle Studios, the company that delivered it the first time round and thank goodness. Even though I still hold onto PS2 and Xbox versions, it’s great to play on current hardware, if only for the lightning fast load times. Black Isle / Snowblind were also responsible for one of my all time hack and slash favourites War in the North, so fingers crossed on that one.
If you were once a regular at the Elfsong Tavern you’ll instantly remember the buxom Inn-keeper and the trophied beholder over the fireplace. Punch through some dialogue and you’ll be in the cellars in no time, then you’ll be punching rats and boxes with abandon. This is where you can see the graphical improvements, rose tinted memories aside its not far from the original game, but the extra crispiness on new HD TVs is very welcome.
Having three adventurers to pick from, they still have a nicely balance skill tree each and a sensible allocation of points as the level up. While the early levels can be testing on first attempt scrapping for loot and experience soon put you in a better stead. Anybody that is familiar with the recent online Dark Alliance game will be wondering where Drizzt is. Well like in the olden days you have to beat the game so you can use him in the challenge dungeon.
“I can’t do that here!”
Gameplay wise this Dark Alliance is really solid, combat is visceral enough and blows feel like they are landing. The mix of skills and buffs allow you to go toe-to-toe or play a hit-and-run game, and having a couch co-op buddy at your back makes all the difference. It’s satisfying to see bodies stay where they fall, loot drops and gold not being shared which makes for some excellent arguments or negotiating. Even having to manage your arrow stocks just pleases me.
Health and Power potions are pretty much the norm for this kind of game, and while they are abundant in barrels or boxes, they will soon be the most popular shop item. What is nice is the spacing of save points. Mostly with a decent challenge in between them I’ve lost count of when one of us has limped back to the last point to revive the other player. Recall potions are also essential, especially with today’s consoles, you’ll be back in the Elfsong Tavern within a couple of seconds selling loot and fixing yourself up before plunging back into the mission.
“This isn’t the place for that!”
It’s hard to classify this game as a vintage or retro memory, it’s still pretty fresh and to be honest still a joy to play. I’ve been playing the Switch version for review, which has been mostly a solo affair wherever I can, while we bought it on Playstation for some 2-player action. That brought back happy memories.
Whether you like to play the Dwarven Tank, Human Archer or Eleven Sorceress Dark Alliance will float your boat.
Now, please excuse us, there’s a Gelatinous Cube around the corner and I have Firehands ready.