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It’s an exciting time as a fan of the tabletop games and the classic Black Isle RPG’s to see a new D&D game hit the shelves.

Canadian developer Tuque Games previously “made” top-down shooter Livelock but this time they have traded in their guns for swords and sorcery.

D&D Dark Alliance is a 3rd person, co-op hack and slash game set in the fantasy role-playing world of Dungeons and Dragons.

Set in the Forgotten Realms campaign in the land of Faerûn, it’s based in the same setting as the classic Black Isle RPG’s Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale and Neverwinter Nights but that is where the similarities end.

The Crystal Shard is a powerful artefact calling to dark forces
(Image: Wizards of the Coast)

Dark Alliance gives you the chance to fight legendry D&D enemies like the Beholder, dragons, and armies of goblins as you slice and smoosh them into a thin red paste and grabbing all the gold you can carry.

The story is based on The Legend of Drizzt books by R.A. Salvador. A powerful magical artefact called the Crystal shard is calling to all the evillest and most dangerous creatures in the land, and if they get it then they will destroy the ten towns and wipe out everyone.

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So, the famed, dark elf Drizzt Do'urden assembles a team to take down the shard and destroy the dark alliance.

Dark Alliance runs in the Unreal engine and lighting as well as combat effects look great, surprisingly frame rates managed to stay smooth on the Xbox Series X, which was impressive considering the amount of carnage happening on screen at once.

You and three friends can take on the forces of evil
(Image: Wizards of the Coast)

I was slightly disappointed with the playable hero’s character models as they look a little flat, whereas the enemies look great and move exactly as you’d imagine.

Cut scenes also look breath-taking reminiscent of Lord of The Rings and I just wish more of the game looks this dynamic.

Voice lines sound great and foes can even be seen chatting while they wait for you which is a nice touch.

Fight Iconic D&D monsters like the Beholder
(Image: Wizards of the Coast)

Dark alliance involves exploring the world and finding the various types of loot while defeating hordes of enemies and completing objectives.

The levels are cavernous, atmospheric environments, rich with detail, from the dwarven halls, dank dungeons.

Extra items and loot are also hidden around the levels to reward those willing to spend the time hunting for gold.

The levels are, however, very linear and begin to feel repetitive very quickly with you travelling from one arena area or corridor to another. You can usually see when a level is about to transition to an all-out murder fest.

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You can choose between 4 premade characters as the game doesn’t offer custom characters. Each character supports a different playstyle with different abilities, gear, and weapons.

The iconic Drizzt Do'urden is fast and agile using two scimitars to carve up foes and backstab them and then move on to the next.

Catti Brie is the ranged expert picking foes off from a distance and crippling bosses.

Drizzt Do'Urden the popular dark elf appears in the Icewind Dale Trilogy books
(Image: Wizards of the Coast)

Bruenor Battlehammer is your standard hardy dwarf tank character, who is there to soak up damage while wearing down your attackers.

Wulfgar is a barbarian, he hits like ye olde freight train and great to take down foes quickly and messily.

Sadly there is no wizard option as a glass cannon, high damage/low health character would have added more challenge to gameplay, but all the characters having some limited magical skills.

With the right gear, you can become unstoppable
(Image: Wizards of the Coast)

Between levels is a hub world where you can select your next mission, buy items gear from a merchant. You can also swap out your equipment for the loot you found on your journey as this cannot be done in battle.

Campaign or dungeons are made up of three acts and you can even increase their difficulty for more experience and better rewards, but be warned, the levels become much more challenging.

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In the hub area, you can also improve your stats, level up and pick new abilities that will make you more dangerous and aid you in your quest.

The game has light RPG elements like swapping out your gear for more powerful equipment that offers higher stats or special resistances that will give you an edge in combat or additional abilities.

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Bonuses are offered if you equip matching sets of the same armour.

One odd bug is enemies didn’t react at all when I remained at a different height to them, meaning I could wail on them and they didn’t even move out of range or investigate.

Combat feels clunky at times and isn’t quite as fluid as Shadow of Mordor or as satisfying as Witcher 3's, as it was very easy to swing my sword where an enemy was only to have them avoid it and I kept swinging in that direction.

Beware traps that can, at best slow you down, and at worst kill you
(Image: Wizards of the Coast)

Enemies just stand there out in the open waiting for you, until you head to them. However, enemies can be hit by friendly fire which is something you can use to your advantage if you keep moving.

Your combos begin quite limited but after levelling up a few skills and a bit of practice you’ll be chaining your attacks and dodging arrows so fast they won’t be able to lay a hand on you.

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Locking on to enemies was frustrating as the camera zooms quite close into one enemy but then means you can’t clearly see the others, meaning you can be easily blindsided.

After clearing an area, you are given the choice to carry on which will increase the rarity of the loot you receive, or you can replenish your health and consumables by taking a short rest.

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This system offered a nice risk or reward system that made gameplay more interesting as dying will take you back to the last rest point.

Multiplayer is clearly the focus of Dark Alliance and defiantly enhances the experience The game supports up to 4 players in online co-op with currently no couch co-op available yet but to be added later.

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You can only have one of each character in a party, however, this will also be changed in later updates.

The game works much better when you have other players to work with and coordinate with and can feel like a slog in single player.

Verdict

D&D Dark Alliance really brings the world of Dungeons & Dragons to life, with great monsters, tones of atmosphere and no microtransactions but is tragically held back by bugs and poor AI. The story is serviceable but I expected a little more from a D&D game based on a much-loved book series.

Dark Alliance will appeal to D&D fans for its setting and characters and is a lot of fun with friends, especially when you work together to take down a might behemoth however, it feels like is severely lacking polish.

If you were expecting a slower-paced, RPG, story-led experience this might not be for you, Dark Alliance is an ambitious, monster-slaying hack and slash but doesn’t quite nail the landing.


D&D Dark Alliance is out now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox and Xbox Series X/S.