Our Score 6 / 10
The Good Remarkably fluid fight and seamless native co-op
The Bad Overpriced and rudimentary port job
Release Date 20 July
Developed By Square One Games, Black Isle Studios
Available On Xbox One/Series, PS4/PS5, Nintendo Switch, PC
Reviewed On PC

The Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance video games have been an enchanting – and troubled – little patch of videogame historical past. Arriving in 2001, a time when the once-formidable writer Interplay was struggling to recapture its former glories, Dark Alliance was an effort to switch the deep lore and sense of journey from the Baldur’s Gate PC video games right into a format palatable to console players.

And whereas right now it appears a tad outdated to imagine console players lack the eye spans of their PC brethren and crave easier, extra action-packed video games, it could’t be denied that some fascinating video games got here out of that assumption. The Dark Alliance video games have been actually slightly good – easy however technically and mechanically slick hack-and-slashers that have been fairly probably the primary ever video games to maneuver the Diablo loot-em-up method into full 3D graphics.


Following on from final 12 months’s surprising multiplatform re-release of the unique Dark Alliance comes this re-release of the 2004 sequel. It’s a superior game on most fronts, with a extra imaginative roster of playable characters, a much less linear world that permits you to run off and do side-quests on an overworld map, in addition to distinctive quests and dialogue strains particular to every of the 5 heroes.

They’re a pleasingly eclectic bunch, these heroes, and embody a Drow Monk whose thong is pulled up method too excessive in that distinctly ‘early 2000s’ method, a sturdily constructed cleric who might properly have been the inspiration for Game of Thrones’ Brienne of Tarth, and – my private favorite – an Elf necromancer who carries himself with the sulky campiness of a mid-2000s emo teenager. He’s emblematic of a game that shoots for the bottom widespread denominator of high-fantasy – a narrative of 5 strangers who’re introduced collectively to tackle a vampire lord intent on taking up Baldur’s Gate by the ability of the Onyx Tower. It makes use of the long-lasting Forgotten Realms setting, however you possibly can overlook about any significant lore insights or discoveries, as these video games are very a lot tangential to canon.

The quests are easy, whereas the areas are an assortment of goblin-inhabited forests, spooky mutant-filled manors, and a few locations that will probably be acquainted to collection followers, like Dragonspear Castle and the town of Baldur’s Gate itself, which acts as the principle hub. There’s sufficient selection within the enemies and areas – even in any case these years – that the game stays pleasing to tear your method by. 

There’s a easy development to the weapons and armour that received’t have you ever poring over lengthy lists of stats, whereas the gem-based crafting system lets you perform a little little bit of fine-tuning to your builds whereas not turning you right into a metagame mega-fiend. Hardcore gamers of video games like Paths of Exile or Diablo might discover this unbearably limiting, however for me the simplicity is a part of the attraction.

Given that the game is usually targeted round fight, with no choices for stealthing or smooth-talking your method by conditions, a lot of the enjoyment is derived from the previous swords-and-sorcery itself. Blocks and weapon swings are responsive, and the flexibility to immediately swap between two separate loadouts makes for a reasonably {smooth} fight move. There’s some good stacking potentialities too. The cleric Allessia, for example, can summon a floating non secular sword as a companion, which she will beef up with shields and assault buffs. Combine that together with her skill that forestalls enemies from attacking her except she assaults them first, and you should utilize your summon as a tank when you rain fireplace down from afar or get behind enemy strains and cleave by them together with your zweihander. 

Most of the flowery stuff – visually and strategically – is confined to spells, which implies that enjoying as a strictly melee character like Dwarven rogue Borador or the barbarian Dorn might ultimately lose its sheen because of the comparatively easy nature of the melee fight. The sense of impression whenever you lower down and dismember enemies feels nice, however with out the variability that comes with spellcraft it solely stays partaking for thus lengthy. This could be remedied by enjoying alongside a good friend, and it’s maybe a tragic signal of the instances that to at the present time it stays one of the crucial pleasing native co-op campaigns that may be performed by in its entirety. In a world the place ARPGs like Diablo really feel overly obsessive about endgame and grind, Dark Alliance 2 feels refreshingly self-contained with its singular marketing campaign. Unlockable characters and better difficulties lengthen its attraction past its modest 12ish-hour playthrough as properly.

Visually, Dark Alliance 2 holds up very properly given its age. The Snowblind Engine it was made on could be one of the crucial technically spectacular of its time. Spells momentarily mild up gloomy dungeons and explode into dozens of little particles, water ripples with the thick fluidity of mercury, NPCs you meet on the planet are properly animated, and there are some spectacular wonderful particulars; everytime you loot these piles of gold from enemies, for example every particular person coin in that pile is rendered, so in the event you choose up, say, 12 cash, that’s the precise quantity of cash that was mendacity on the bottom!). 

It’s a disgrace then, that seemingly minimal effort went into really remastering this game for contemporary platforms. Beyond widescreen assist and high-resolution assist – options that emulators and modders add to previous video games with relative ease – there are not any visible enhancements right here: no improved textures, no upscaled FMV cutscenes, no up to date UI to make issues like spellcasting a bit much less fiddly, no on-line assist, no nothing.

In equity, the shop pages and advertising and marketing for Dark Alliance 2 don’t do a giant song-and-dance about this being a ‘remaster,’ however they do slip up by calling it ‘remastered’ within the trailer; it’s form of telling that the place most trailers for remastered video games would go on to checklist essentially the most notable issues which have really been remastered, the Dark Alliance 2 trailer does no such factor. Simply put, they actually don’t have something to again up that ‘remastered’ declare. For all intents and functions, it is a PC port of an 18-year-old PS2 game, which might’ve been wonderful have been it not for the £30/$40 price ticket, which is kind of what you’d’ve paid for the game again when it first got here out.

On a technical stage, Dark Alliance 2 has been respectable for me, barring an odd bug the place the menus registered the controller however in-game it wouldn’t. There have, nevertheless, been extra severe studies of the game crashing, bugging out, and even breaking, on PC and different platforms. It appears that Interplay is already releasing fixes, however be warned that for the following few weeks at the least this game isn’t notably secure (nor low cost).

It’s a little bit of a wasted alternative that Interplay, which is such a shadow of its former self that you just’d have been forgiven for pondering it doesn’t exist any extra, didn’t take this momentary highlight to point out the world that they’ve nonetheless acquired a little bit of the previous magic, that they nonetheless care. Dark Alliance 2 was, and largely nonetheless is, an excellent game, however its spectacular underlying tech might’ve actually shone had a bit extra effort been put into really modernising it.

There’s worth right here, for certain, as a visceral stomp by a beloved fantasy world that provides the uncommon luxurious of being completely playable alongside a good friend. It’s swift, slashy, and easy, however evaluating it to different video games of this period which have been ported to fashionable platforms – Okami, Resident Evil Remaster, and Silent Hills 3 and 4, to call a couple of – you’re paying double to quadruple the value. Buying it at this worth level feels prefer it might set a precedent that shouldn’t be supported, tempting although it might be…


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