The world of Dungeons & Dragons comes to life in an explosive action brawler filled with real-time combat and dynamic co-op. Play as iconic D&D heroes and join up to three other friends to battle legendary monsters, earn powerful gear, and unlock new abilities to take on even bigger challenges.
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Reviewed on: PS5
Also available for: PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Developer: Tuque Games
Cast: Crispin Freeman, Holly Gauthier-Frankel, Andrew Morgado, Jamieson price, Nancy Linari, Jake Green, Fred Tatasciore, Piotr Michael, Robbie Daymond
A Dungeons & Dragons game has much rich lore to create an exciting story and engaging gameplay. Somehow, Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance failed on both of those points. The game is an absolute slog and one of the worst things you can play now or force upon your friends in co-op.
Comaritevly, Dark Alliance reminded me of the Warhammer Vermentide game, although they’re much better. You spawn into a small HUB world with your friends or alone. There’s a shop, a place to collect gear you earn in missions and a trophy room for the bosses you best. From here, you select a mission before stepping onto a plate and are transported to your desired level.
Each level in Dark Alliance is pretty much the same. You defeat enemies, move from the objective point to the objective point, and sometimes stop placing a bomb, using a key or exploring optional off-shoot paths for some extra loot. Every single mission feels the same. Even the boss fights are just slightly bigger enemies with a larger health bar. There’s nothing that feels exciting or any surprise to be found when playing Dark Alliance.
Although you cannot double up on the same character in any co-op setting, there are four different characters to play. Drizzt Do’Urden is the most famous and poster-cover lead; R.A Salvatore’s creation is a fast-paced assassin that can turn invisible and fight twin-blades. Other Salvatore creations join Drizzt: Catti-brie, an archer with the ability to call down magical arrows, Bruenor Battlehammer, a brawling dwarf and Wulfgar, a tall brute who can cause brunt damage. They each play very differently and invite different types of players. Although when you play alone, someone like Cattie-Brie becomes very slow and tedious as enemies kill her very fast, and she has no one to help her take enemy aggro.
Combat itself is a mix of light, heavy, ranged, and special attacks, along with the ability to block and parry most attacks. You can mix up light and heavy to different effects, and using the coin you earn or find in levels; you can buy new moves to increase your arsenal. However, it quickly becomes very monotonous as nearly all the enemies in the game attack you the same way and your strategy required to beat any of them becomes some quick button mashing.
Dark Alliance is a game designed around a four-player co-op setting. From the HUB world to the mission design, everything is balanced around co-op play. Slogging through a level by yourself with any character isn’t a great experience. The enemy patterns, health and bosses haven’t been designed for single-player at all, and it shows. Instead, they’re each designed with a 2-4 players squad. Even when playing with friends, there isn’t an increase to the enjoyment factor of what is a game void of any form of anything that could be called engaging or, simply put: fun.