6 / 10 Banzai!s
Perhaps one of the first games on a console to be a sequel to an iPhone game – that being Dungeon Hunter – Dungeon Hunter: Alliance is a hack and slash action title with RPG elements and a bird’s eye view camera, somewhat reminiscent of Diablo or the old Gauntlet arcade. The game was developed by French company Gameloft, who generally specialize in the smartphone game department.
Dungeon Hunter: Alliance was first released on the PlayStation 3 back in April of 2011. The PlayStation Vita version, however, was released as a launch title in February 2012, as is noted for being the first game which allowed players to play on both systems while saving their progress to a cloud. Unfortunately, this only works if you purchase both versions of the game.
Players select from one of three classes – a mage, rogue, or warrior – each with their own skill tree which can be unlocked and upgraded as your character gains XP and moves up the ladder of levels. A variety of weapons and armor are available to be either found or purchases, but if you don’t feel like reading through all the stats, simply hit Square and the game will automatically give you the best combination.
You play as a king who was murdered many years ago, but resurrected by a fairy. Why? Well, it seems the land has been corrupted by the Dark Queen who is being controlled by a Dark Fairy. Only a resurrected king can apparently free the imprisoned fairies and return the land to its peaceful state. During the course of the game, players explore an assortment of environments, hack and slash their way through waves of oncoming enemies, and battling bosses while occasionally tapping the Vita’s screen to activate some powerful fairy power.
What I Liked:
Dungeon Hunter: Alliance is by far, the best game I’ve played on the PlayStation Vita that allowed me to watch TV at the same time. As I worked my way through the towns and dungeons, battling enemies and bosses, I was able to finish all the reruns of Cheers. The story is simple and involves a bit of text reading at times, and the micro-managing of weapons and armor is as simple as hitting the Square button, then selling everything else you don’t need. The rest is just moving through the areas and hitting either square or X, while occasionally tapping the screen for fairy power. By the time I completed the game and got the platinum, I’d managed to finish all seasons of Cheers, and up the third season of Seinfeld.
Of course, button mashing may not be your thing. But if you’re in the mood to play something on your PlayStation Vita while sitting in front of the TV, then this is the game for you.
What I Didn’t Like:
For the same reason that I liked Dungeon Hunter: Alliance, I also disliked it as well. At first, I started playing through with all my concentration on the game. By the time I reached the second level, I was bored to tears. The gameplay was just so repetitive, despite the different visuals of environments, that I couldn’t play for more than 30 minutes without switching to a different game. It wasn’t until I put on the TV that I started to enjoy myself.
The biggest problem I had was that the game felt more like a cheap download, and not a full $60 retail that I bought off the shelf in a store in Akihabara. There are no cutscenes, everything is in text without voice actors, and the game itself is just very simple. Dungeon Hunter: Alliance is a sequel to an iPhone game, and it doesn’t feel that much of a step-up.
The game includes multiplayer, in which up to 4 players can work together, helping the host in their current mission. However, this can cause problems. Aside from the poor connection issues, other players can screw up your trophy collecting. For example, the Chatterbox trophy requires you to converse with each NPC in the game. If you’re online, and someone else happens to strike up a conversation with an NPC, then that’s it. A missable trophy for you, unless you restart the whole game. And there are a number of trophies like this through the game. So if you’re working on your platinum, it’s best not to get online. Do everything yourself. If you’re playing the game for fun, then okay. Except the game isn’t that fun. So what’s the point of multiplayer?
Another thing I found annoying was the map. Each location, whether it be filled with enemies or a town, has doorways that warp you to a new area. You know the name of the next location you have to get to for your next mission, and so you bring up the map, which displays three or four of these doorways. But the map doesn’t tell you which doorway leads where. So on several occasions, I had to run and fight my way through a gauntlet of enemies, only to learn I’d reached a doorway that didn’t take me where I needed to go. So I had to turn around and fight my way to the next one. From Elder Scrolls to Dragon Age, maps have always had either a marker or at least the name of the locations. In Dungeon Hunter: Alliance, you’ll basically need to perform a lot of useless running around and fighting just to figure out where to go.
Finally, I had problems with leveling up. During the game, you’ll be attacking enemies and bosses. Each time they’re defeated, you see a number pop-up, which shows how much Experience Points you’ve earned. Get enough, and your character levels-up. That’s natural in any game with RPG elements.
But for some reason, you’re making your way through a dungeon or cave, those points stop adding to your XP. Why? I have no idea. The game just suddenly decided you can no longer earn those popping-up number. This becomes a problem when you’re playing on Legend difficulty, which requires you to get your level up to 75. Was this a glitch? Or did Gameloft decide that after running through the same dungeon once or twice, you can no longer earn XP? Eventually you get to a point where the only way to earn XP is to repeatedly fight the final boss over and over in order to max out your character. But then, if you have enough XP to fight the final boxx, why would you need to do it again just to max out your character? Other than getting a trophy, I fail to see the point.
Dungeon Hunter: Alliance is not a bad game. But it’s not a good one, either. It’s a simple button-masher with a simple story, and doesn’t require much concentration. There’s nothing seriously wrong with the game, but nothing that blew me away, either. In every respect, it’s a perfect example of a mediocre game. This is as average as a game can get.
But if you’re looking for a PlayStation Vita game that doesn’t require much attention, something you can play while you ride the train or watch a movie, or while you’re waiting at a coffee shop or bar for your friends to arrive, then this is the game for you.