PC gamers have been familiar with the Baldur’s Gate series since it first launched in 1998, but console gamers didn’t get involved until a few years later with 2001’s Baldur’s Gate : Dark Alliance. Developed by Snowblind Studios and released to critical acclaim, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance is a classic of the PS2 era. Until recently, fans could only play the game by digging out their old consoles, but Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance re-release is now easily available on most modern gaming platforms.
Somehow, Black Isle Studios has re-released Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, bringing the classic dungeon crawler and hack-slash game to modern platforms more or less as fans remember it. While the graphics are slightly cleaner, this isn’t a remake of the original game. Baldur’s Gate : The new version of Dark Alliance is a port, for better or worse.
On the plus side, this means that Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance exists just as it did when it first launched in 2001, which is great for nostalgics. But it also means that there are aspects of the game that aren’t fully fledged, but haven’t been addressed. Players can expect NPCs walking in endless circles, various graphical oddities, body parts going through clothing, occasional crashes, and more.
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance also doesn’t do a good job of balancing its difficulty levels. Easy mode is a little too easy, and normal mode is insanely hard. Even when facing the sewer rats at the beginning, those who cleared the level on normal difficulty were almost instant kills. There are two more challenging difficulty modes after that, but most players will probably want to stick with the easy mode for their first pass.
The lack of online co-op will also disappoint some, and since there are three playable characters, it’s nice to see local co-op expanded to support three players. Despite these shortcomings, Baldur’s Gate : Dark Alliance is still a game worth playing after all these years, especially when playing with friends. It’s a classic dungeon crawling action RPG experience where players complete quests, level up, buy better gear, and fight endless waves of enemies.
Baldur’s Gate: The Dark Alliance is divided into three distinct acts. The first act takes place in the city of Baldur’s Gate itself, and players must battle the evil new Thieves’ Guild as well as various monsters in the city’s sewers. The second act takes place in the mountains, while the third act takes place in the swamp. Each area is visually distinct from the other and rich in content.
Baldur’s Gate: Each of the three main areas of the Dark Alliance contains a hub with a shop for players to sell their loot as well as NPCs who may need to complete side quests. Players can stick to the main story and ignore everything else, but those who take the time to tackle extra quests or stray from the norm will be rewarded with extra loot, which makes it easier to buy some higher-value weapons and armor.
While out and about adventuring, players will find that the “dungeons” in Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance can be quite lengthy, with many twists, turns, and layers. The game’s map system makes it hard to get lost, but some objectives could have benefited greatly from a modern marker system so players wouldn’t waste hours wandering mindlessly around. While the map is useful, the way it fades in and out based on the player’s position can occasionally make it difficult to determine where the player has been and which areas have yet to be explored.
It would be nice to have some quality of life improvements, but the game is still fun to play without. It really goes out of its way to make everything as easy as possible for the player. For example, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance players will find plenty of Recall Potions throughout their adventures, allowing them to instantly teleport to the nearest town, heal, and then teleport back to the exact location they left off in the dungeon. This relieves a lot of the frustration of being overburdened or running out of health potions
There are definite 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 anyway. As mentioned before, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance does not work on most modern gaming platforms, this may be due to Tuque Games’ upcoming new game Dungeons Dragons: Dark Alliance. 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 hum without any interesting words, but it has some surprising moments and is interesting enough. The gripping finale stings a bit, but Baldur’s Gate:Dark Alliance 2 port will take care of that.
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance is a great option for those looking for a nostalgic trip as well as those who missed it the first time but need fun local co-op play. There are many aspects of the game that are underdeveloped, but the fun factor outweighs many of these issues. In addition, the game offers players great bang for their buck, with a main story and several unlockables, including a glove mode and fan-favorite character Drizzt Do’Urden. Baldur’s Gate : Dark Alliance was a great game in 2001, and it’s still fun to play 20 years later.
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance is out now for PS4 and Xbox One, with a Switch version in the works. Game Rant provided an Xbox One code for this review.