Developer: Black Isle Studios, Snowblind Studios, Magic Pockets Publisher: Interplay Entertainment Category: Action/Role-playing/Hack and Slash Composers: Jeremy Soule, Will Loconto Release Date: May 20, 2021
Baldur’s Gate has an interesting and influential history. Based on the Dungeon’s and Dragon’s franchise, this game series has led to world-building stories of games like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age. The Baldur’s Gate titles changed the format of turn-based role-playing games and found ways to bring fresh ideas to modernize the RPG gaming frontier. Over 20 years later, Baldur’s Gate games still find a way to captivate fans and new gamers even within very minimal innovation. Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance is no different. While not perfect, it still performs and delivers in a rewarding fashion.
Not So New Beginnings
This game has been ported to the Switch, among other consoles, as well as phone and PC giving the game new life. This is no surprise after the popularity of the other Baldur’s Gate games on the Switch. It didn’t come without development complications, however it stays true to the roots of what made similar games so enjoyable. There hasn’t been much changed or adjusted when compared to the original release. While I haven’t done a side-by-side comparison myself, I can say that a few small changes could have been added. The Switch version is also missing co-op mode, which has not been added yet at the time of this review.
Not Perfect Nostalgia
Character creation is pretty basic, as expected. You can play as one of three types of races and classes; Human Archer, Dwarven Fighter, or Elven Sorceress. While I enjoyed the throwback to the original game, having other classes or even the ability to change the look of the character for a little more variety would have been welcomed. The player’s player’s largest effect on the character is how they spec the character when spending the experience points. Graphically the game looks decent compared to lower budget games or independent games released currently. It isn’t necessarily a detriment that the graphics aren’t better enhanced, it is just noticeably aged. The sheer nostalgia of this game and the enjoyment of the story was enough to overlook these shortcomings.
Not So Fast
Once you have created your character, you are robbed, attacked and then guards take you to an inn for recovery. This is the beginning of your story where you learn a hidden evil you are sent to expose. The original title provided cooperative gameplay, however since that is currently missing in the Switch version, it does prove to be a bit more complicated. Strategy and patience are required as you uncover the mysteries of each quest. There are jumping puzzles, secret doors, varieties of weapons, and gear. Each of these weapons and the gear is meant to fit the specific character you are playing. You must decide what best fits your build. The story is nearly linear, which hasn’t changed. And while there are side-quests, they are not mandatory. I did learn the hard way if you miss a side-quest and start another “Act”, you are not able to travel back to a previous “Act” or chapter to complete them. There are three Acts, and while Dark Alliance isn’t a particularly massive game, the world is built in a manner that makes the game seem much bigger.
Not Out of This Yet
There are a few marks or notes made about changes that would have been massive for quality of life. There is a HUD where you can see the map. You are able to toggle that as needed which was great. The hack and slash controls seemed crisp, but my largest complaint is the inability to aim or target an enemy. This is even more true when you are fighting larger bosses on the screen and you move in an area where you lose them from view. Due to the linear nature of the game, I also found myself overwhelmed a few times by enemies. Having the ability to use co-op and a 2nd player would have been welcomed.
Not As Bad As It Looks
Graphically, the game lacks panache. Reminiscent of the early days of the Playstation 2. There isn’t much a leap of genuis in this port, but honestly that isn’t something that hurts the game. It has some hits and misses. Couch co-op would have been fun to try. Having the ability to aim would have made the game luxurious. A little bit of extra added in the character creation would have been a splendid addition to the experience. Yet, somehow none of these limitations hurt the experience. The music is just as magnificent as I remember. The story was just as enjoyable as the first time I experienced it. The Switch may very well be viewed as a Port-machine at the end of it’s life. If games like Dark Alliance are continously added, I will be completely content with what the Switch provides.
Buy Now: 29.99
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*The Switch Effect was graciously provided this game code for review.