255th played so far


Genre: Action/Role Playing
Platform: PlayStation 2/Gamecube/XBox
Year of Release: 2001
Developer: Snowblind Studios
Publisher: Interplay Entertainment

Now for something interesting. We all know I love Baldur’s Gate II – so surely I must enjoy the more actionny spin-off? Well, all it shares is the name and vague setting, beyond that there’s not much of a link between the two. I’ve always had mixed feelings about it for that reason. Sure, it might be good (although I was surprised to see it in the list), but can it really live up to the name?

Our Thoughts

Dark Alliance is part of an interesting subgenre of RPGs. Mostly influenced by and based on Diablo, it focuses on dungeon exploration and loot gathering, while barely having an overworld – the latter being good for selling stuff and getting some quests, but not giving you much, if any, gameplay.

It is similar here. In Baldur’s Gate, it’s a shortcut to and from the tavern where you pick up your quests and such. It’s very simplistic and while there’s some story there, it’s not too complicated. You have the option to play with a friend (something that I figured would be enjoyable) but a nice touch would have been to have there be some reference in the story to there being a second party. Either way in this we decided to go as an elf spellcaster and a dwarf.

Unlike Jeroen I have no real loyalty or in-depth knowledge of the Baldur’s Gate world to call upon when playing this game. Sure, I’ve played Baldur’s Gate II for the blog but I am nowhere near well versed in the mythology. That’s fine though since I am approaching this game how most of the people who bought it would have, from a near neutral perspective. It’s the best way to do so – the two don’t share much in gameplay.

I will be the first to say that I am not the biggest fan of dungeon-crawling RPGs. It was the thing that began to bum me out during Final Fantasy VII (which felt dungeon crawly in many places despite the complete lack of dungeons). The thing that really bummed me out about this game was the lack of a party. Since this is the area that Baldur’s Gate comes from I was half-expecting a world populated with recruitables and was disappointed when this was not the case. It makes sense in hindsight with people reporting a 10 hour playtime (not too dissimilar to Bayonetta) so this feels rather brief compared to the original games.

This came through in other parts of the game as well. One thing that annoyed us was how little multiplayer seems to have mattered when developing the game – us playing together seemed possible only as an afterthought. Dialogue and story went on as if the second player didn’t exist, while the balance seemed off too – there were more enemies to compensate for the added power, but that wasn’t balanced in item drops and such, meaning we always felt behind on that. It’s as if they doubled the number of enemies to compensate, but didn’t take into account reduced XP rates or item sharing.

One thing I did appreciate was how much more action oriented this game was. No pausing the moment you see a monster, instead you may have to fun away as green blobs throw goo in your direction. Combining this with a hell of a lot of pick-ups and a rather large bestiary there is a lot to be enjoyed here, even if the initial motive of the character is to get their stuff back. Obviously more ‘end of the world’ type stuff kicks in later because… well it wouldn’t be fantasy otherwise.

In the end though, this did not feel like a natural extension to the franchise but a bit of a cash-in. Personally I know I liked this more than Jeroen and that was probably because of our different gaming backgrounds and that I am more used to fantasy games with this non-pausing element in it. Or maybe it was because of my lack of expectation. Who can say really. Then again, I didn’t get frustrated by it at all.

Final Thoughts

If you’re expecting a Baldur’s Gate or Bioware-inspired game when playing this, you’ll be disappointed. As it stands, the game is an enjoyable Diablo-rip off, probably amongst the better ones out there. Just… maybe not multiplayer.