Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance Review

PC gamers have been familiar with the Baldur’s Gate franchise since it originally launched in 1998, but those on consoles didn’t get in on the action until years later with Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance in 2001. Developed by Snowblind Studios and earned critical acclaim at the time of its release, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance is a classic of the PS2 era. Until recently, fans were only able to play the game by digging out their old consoles, but now a Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance re-release is readily available on most modern gaming platforms. Out of nowhere, Black Isle Studios has re-released Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, bringing the classic dungeon crawling hack-and-slash game to modern platforms more or less how fans remember it. Although the graphics are slightly sharper, this is not a remaster of the original game. This new release of Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance is a port, for better or worse. On the bright side, this means that Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance exists as it did when it first launched in 2001, which is great for the nostalgia-minded. But it also means that some aspects of the game that haven’t exactly matured go unaddressed. Players can expect NPCs walking in endless circles, all sorts of graphical oddities, body parts clipping clothing, and the occasional crash, among other issues. Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance gameplay screenshot Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance also doesn’t do a great job balancing its difficulty levels. Easy mode is a touch too easy, while Normal is oddly difficult. Even when faced with sewer rats at the very beginning of the game, those playing on Normal difficulty will be killed almost immediately. There are two harder difficulty modes after that, but most players will probably want to stick with Easy for their first playthrough. The lack of online co-op will also be a disappointment to some, and since there are three playable characters, it would have been nice to see local co-op expanded to support three players. Despite these shortcomings, however, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance is still a blast to play over the years, especially when playing with a friend. It’s a classic dungeon crawling action-RPG experience, where players complete quests, level up, buy better gear, and fight endless hordes of enemies. Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance is organized into three distinct Acts. The first Act takes place in the city of Baldur’s Gate itself, where players have to fight against a villainous new Thieves Guild as well as all kinds of monsters in the sewers beneath the city. Act 2 takes place in the mountains, while Act 3 takes place in a swamp. Each area is visually distinct from each other and full of content. Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance gameplay screenshot Each of the three main areas in Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance includes a hub with a shop for players to sell their loot to as well as NPCs who may have side quests to complete. Players can stick to the main story and ignore everything else, but those who take the time to tackle additional tasks or detours are rewarded with additional loot that makes it easier to purchase some of the higher cost of weapons and armor. While adventuring, players will find that the “dungeons” in Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance can be quite long with many twists, turns, and many levels. The game’s map system makes it hard to get lost, but there are some objectives that would greatly benefit from a modern-day marker system so that players aren’t wasting their time mindlessly walking around inside a lot of time. And while the map is helpful, the way it fades in and out based on the player’s position sometimes makes it difficult to determine where players have been and what areas are yet to be explored. It would have been nice to have these quality of life improvements, but the game is still a lot of fun without them. And it goes out of its way to make everything as painless as possible for players. For example, players of Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance will find many Recall Potions in their quests that allow them to instantly warp to the nearest town, heal, and then warp back to that exact spot which they left in the dungeon. This alleviates much of the frustration that would otherwise be caused by having too many or too few health potions. Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance gameplay screenshot There are obvious ways to make Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance a superior experience, but it’s still nice to be able to play it on newer consoles. As previously stated, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance is for most modern gaming platforms, likely due to the upcoming launch of a new game, Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance by Tuque Games. And hopefully this means fans can look forward to a potential port of Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2 at some point as well. The story itself is pretty generic fantasy fare for the most part with some characters tending to drone on without anything interesting to say, but it has some surprising moments and is entertaining enough. The cliffhanger ending was a bit of a pain, but a Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2 port will correct that problem. Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance is a solid choice for those looking for a nostalgia trip as well as anyone who missed it the first time around and needs a fun local co-op game to play. There are many aspects of the game that haven’t aged well, but the fun factor outweighs many of those issues. Plus, the game gives players a lot of bang for their buck, with a ton to do in the main story and some unlockable content, including a Gauntlet mode and fan-favorite character Drizzt Do’Urden . Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance was a great game back in 2001 and it’s still a ton of fun to play 20 years later. Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance is out now for PS4 and Xbox One with a Switch version also in the works. Today Technology was given an Xbox One code for this review.

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