The latest video game that is part of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise is called Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance and has been released yesterday on the 22nd of June. As it also went straight into the Xbox Game Pass on launch day, we had direct access to review the title, which would usually be sold at an MSRP of 39.99 USD for the standard edition.
Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance has been developed by Tuque Games (Livelock) and was published by Wizards of the Coast (Magic: The Gathering), who also acquired the studio back in 2019. It aims to be a third-person-view ARPG with loads of hack and slay action and the option to play in a team of four with a multiplayer feature. Unlike Dungeons & Dragons video games like Baldur’s Gate or Neverwinter Nights, the vision for Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance was to provide a fast-paced combat experience in a fantasy setting.
What’s ‘Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance‘ like?
Now how do I best explain the Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance experience to you without being too subjective. Let me start like this: This game might be enjoyed by some gamers, but I am also confident that I am not the only one who feels no need to praise the title. The experience to play this game was not good on launch day, but it is not impossible to get fixed with thorough content and gameplay updates as well as fixes. I did not encounter bugs or problems like that, however. The problems run deeper.
So why am I putting the title in such a negative light? Because Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance is simply not fun to play and a video game should always be fun to play. The only thing that currently carries the game is the Dungeons & Dragons licensing but that doesn’t carry too much. It’s not motivating to play. The story is not that interesting. The controls are so laggy and clunky that the core aspect of this game, fighting all the mobs, feels more like a chore than anything fun. An AI is oftentimes entirely absent from the enemies.
Room for improvement
I was also upset that there are only four characters to play and that out of those only one is a female. The essence of D&D roleplay to me always was that one can create their character in detail and the way they like. Choose a race, gender, class and skill them up the way you like. All of this is no part of Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance. All characters are pre-made and you are even missing a mage class entirely. There’s an archer, a rogue, and two melee classes that feel a bit too similar.
Looking for darker fantasy ARPG fun? Check out our review of Warhammer: Chaosbane
Is it worth it’s price? I was a bit hyped about this game but it quickly became a disappointment to the franchise. As of now, the game is not very entertaining to me, and not even for free, I felt like it’s worth playing. Perhaps, with major work invested in the title, Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance could become something more playable. If you like, you can have a look at the gameplay footage that I recorded for you on the Xbox One X below and decide for yourself.
YouTube: Let’s Play Video [Gameplay, No Commentary]
Photo credit: All content shown is owned by Wizards of the Coast and Tuque Games.
Editorial notice: The author tested the game for about one hour to assess the engine and game mechanics. The story might improve or get worse later on in the game.