Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance is out now, and its an easy game to pick on. The combat is a bit clunky, there are a few framerate hiccups, and there’s been reports of bugs here and there (though I’ve yet to experience any whatsoever in my PC playthrough).
Dark Alliance is also an absolute fucking blast to play, especially with friends. I dove into a co-op mission with a buddy who was playing on Xbox, and teaming up to stomp out some goblins was relatively seamless. We both oohed and ahhed at the spectacular vistas and sprawling level design, and laughed at each other while we figured out the game’s mechanics and how it wanted to be played.
If you’ve ever played Dungeons & Dragons around an actual table with your friends, then the previous two paragraphs should sound perfectly familiar to you. There are hiccups and bumps while the DM figures things out, (the DM – in this case – is Wizards of the Coast’s recently-acquired in house studio, Tuque Games). There are oohs and ahhs around the table as players realize that they’re able to do a certain thing, or think outside the box to overcome an obstacle. And more than a few laughs and tongue-in-cheek moments to go around.
In those regards, Tuque Games has (perhaps unwittingly) created the perfect Dungeons & Dragons video game. It isn’t perfect, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and its really fun – especially with the right group of friends. The game takes place in The Forgotten Realms campaign setting: The Crystal Shard, and is a direct sequel to the iconic D&D novel of the same name. You can’t create your own character in Dark Alliance, but you play as one of the four famed Companions of Icewind Dale – Drizzt, Bruenor, Wulfgar, and Cattie-Brie.
Each character has their own motivations and backstory built right in, but you can change up their looks by equipping new armor (of which you’ll scoop up a lot of in each mission) and applying skins (of which come built-in to almost every piece of armor in the game). So while it may feel odd to play D&D and not strap on the boots of your own custom character, these ones are pretty damn rad. If this is truly a dealbreaker for you, you should check out Baldur’s Gate III, which also rules – but is a very different game.
I’ll wait to play more of Dark Alliance before delving too deep into my thoughts and feelings, but I felt like I needed to get this up today based on the loads of harsh, knee-jerk criticism the game has received already. My initial experience was quite the opposite, and I truly believe that most action RPG or high fantasy fans will find lots to love about Dark Alliance if they look past the noise and give it a real chance.
So, stop listening to me. Stop reading, go load up the game (its 40 bucks if you don’t have Game Pass on Xbox or PC, which is a pretty great deal), or go boot up a stream of it on Twitch and form your own opinions.
In my opinion, this game is a lot of fun – and is absolutely worth checking out. No adventure is without its hiccups, and I’m looking forward to the ride that Tuque Games is about to take me on.
Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance is available right now for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, and PC.