The Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2 remaster is here, but how does it hold up against the more modern dungeon-diving RPGs?
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2 is a game we remember fondly. It, along with the first Dark Alliance game, were spin-offs from the main Baldur’s Gate series and focused more on hack and slash gameplay over the traditional turn-based style of the main series.
While both games were received well by fans and critics, they always felt a lot like Diablo clones. This wasn’t a bad thing, as dungeon divers were crying out for more games of this type, but it meant that both Dark Alliance titles lived in the shadow of the Diablo series.
Baldur’s Gate Dark Alliance 2 remaster key details
- Price: £24.99/$29.99
- Developer: Black Isle Studios
- Release Date: July 20, 2022
- Platforms: PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, PC
Baldur’s Gate Dark Alliance 2 remaster trailer
The right game at the right time
With both of the originals launching on PS2 and the original Xbox, it’d be fair to say a remaster is justified, but how does it fare?
Like its predecessor, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance 2 is part of the Dungeons and Dragons family and is set in the titular city, sometime after the first Dark Alliance game. Baldur’s Gate is still reeling from the events of that title and you play as a new adventurer, who originally showed up to fight the previous big bad, only to be pulled into a new quest against another enemy.
The premise is pretty basic and D&D lore has moved on significantly since 2004, but it’s nice to see classic characters like Drizzt and Ysuran again. Like most fantasy RPGs you get to choose your character class at the start of the game, and can unlock more by beating certain game modes to add some replayability.
Hack and miss
Most classes are your typical hack and slash character templates, so you can choose to play the game as warriors, rogues, wizards, and even a necromancer. The story also slightly alters depending on which class you pick, but so does the gameplay – and significantly.
We don’t just mean in terms of playstyle either, some classes just function better than others. This is because Dark Alliance 2 still feels like a PS2 game in many ways, most notably with the combat. It’s just as clunky as ever on console and fails to feel as precise as games like Diablo 3 or even Diablo 2 Resurrected. PC players may have an easier time, as the mouse will highlight exactly which enemy you strike.
The game would have benefited from some form of lock-on system to save your character slashing at the air more than at the game’s monsters, but it doesn’t totally ruin the experience. It does, however, remind players of the game’s age and could put some off. This sort of flimsiness simply doesn’t fly in 2022 as gamers are used to a much tighter experience.
Some classes suffer from this more than others and it may not bother everyone, but in our playthrough, we primarily focused on magic users to avoid the janky hack and slash combat.
Getting the best out of Dark Alliance 2
Playing as the Necromancer was rewarding, but don’t expect a character that can summon a horde of minions. You can only summon one skeleton or shadow warrior at a time, although they are effective allies, and blasting enemies with spells from the sidelines while our undead minion focused their aggro was superb fun, as was playing as other characters that engaged in primarily ranged combat.
The couch co-op returns from the original Dark Alliance 2, but it’s a shame the developers didn’t add any online play. This is a title that would really benefit from online multiplayer, but it comes from a time before this was commonplace. Still, it’s a wasted opportunity, but perhaps the implementation of such a significant mechanic was unrealistic.
However, we are happy to report that the cheats return, if you’re into that sort of thing. If you remember how to access the cheat codes from the PS2 version of the game, try the same combination of buttons on the equivalent controller. Of course, we’d recommend beating the game legitimately first, but if you wanted to hop into the extreme difficulty with a fully leveled character from the start to take on the game’s bosses, then the option is there.
The right game at the right time… again?
The remaster does a good job of touching up the more jagged edges of Dark Alliance 2, but don’t expect miracles, it’s the same game you remember and looks a lot like the first game’s remaster. However, like the first time Dark Alliance 2 came out, the remaster hits our shelves at an interesting time.
The game has arrived in between Diablo 3 and 4, as well as after the hype surrounding Diablo 2 Resurrected has subsided. It also comes at a time when Blizzard’s long-running series has hit a stumbling block with Diablo Immortal and could serve as a soothing balm for fans looking for an alternative – and one without microtransactions for that matter.
Those looking for more dungeon diving action may find Dark Alliance 2 to be a fun distraction and a nice companion to other games in the genre.
Some of the dungeons outstay their welcome but Dark Alliance 2 is a great game to play in short bursts, so feels right at home on Nintendo’s hybrid system. We imagine the PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X|S version looks much prettier in 4K, but there’s only really so much polish you can give a game from nearly twenty years ago.
The good news is that today, dungeon-crawling games like this are more popular than ever, so Baldur’s Gate Dark Alliance 2 could be exactly what you’re looking for. The genre has boomed and this makes an older game feel fresh again, especially to those who didn’t play it the first time around, if you can forgive its imperfections – and some players won’t be able to.
Don’t expect it to compare with the likes of Diablo 3 or Path of Exile, but fans of the genre will be well served by Dark Alliance 2.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
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