PSN Review – Dungeon Hunter: Alliance

Dungeon crawlers were rampant in the last generation of consoles, but there have been very few releases in this age-old genre with the PS3 and Xbox 360. Enter Dungeon Hunter: Alliance. Coming off the initial success of the series on the iOS platform, Gameloft has made a move over to the PlayStation Network. Can the mobile developer deliver on a console system? Find out in our review.

The game boots up with a rather generic-looking group of three characters, which seems okay until you realize that upon starting the campaign those are the only three characters that you can choose from. Picking the Mage, Rogue or Warrior simply determines your starting stats, and you cannot choose gender – they are all male. This is necessary to have the story make sense, where you are a king who is brought back from the dead by a fairy in order to fight a possessed queen. It may also have been a way to save some development costs by only having to animate/create three character models instead of six. Whatever the case, it is a disappointment that this RPG does not offer any character customization.

So, once you pick a character you are thrust into the story. A story which is text only, and not voiced whatsoever. Sure, this is a PSN game we are talking about here, but the text doesn’t even make any noise when printing out onto the screen. In fact, the only voices you will hear throughout the game are those of citizens in a village, who sometimes give some nonsensical phrase occasionally delivered rather flatly. The story does have a funny moment or two every now and again, but overall it’s your usual RPG fair – something’s going on in a village, you must kill a boss to free the people, etc. Nothing’s wrong with the story, there’s just not much outstanding about it either.

Audio is pretty generic as well. Sound effects are passable, and at least the background music ramps up nicely whenever you are in combat. Custom soundtracks are not supported, which is a shame because the music can get repetitive at times. Everything is presented in basic stereo, though with a game such as an isometric dungeon crawler it may not be beneficial to have the audio presented in surround sound anyway.

As for the RPG portion of Dungeon Hunter: Alliance, it will likely please fans of the genre but there is nothing out of the ordinary here. A color coding scheme helps you quickly identify which of your items have augmented statistics, such as +40HP or extra magic damage. You cannot craft your own items whatsoever – what you see is what you get, forever. The only thing you can do with items is sell or transmute them for gold, both for a minuscule fraction of the item’s street price. Still, for fans of this genre there are is a lot of game for your money. The main campaign is quite lengthy, easily 10-15 or so hours playing at a modest pace. There are some side quests as well, but these mostly serve to get you to go back and replay old dungeons.

Graphically, Alliance looks like an upscaled PlayStation 2 port or remake. Some of the background objects look slightly better than that, but given that this franchise started life on mobile phones this isn’t much of a surprise. It never really gets terrible to look at, it just doesn’t impress. Animations are pretty limited, and lighting is sufficient but only that. The framerate is fairly consistent, with only a few dips or stuttering in outside environments.

Dungeon Hunter: Alliance‘s claim to fame is PlayStation Move support. It’s here, and feels kind of out of place. The game controls just fine with the DualShock, and in this case the Move wand is seemingly too sensitive for this game. Flicking your wrist can do all sorts of different actions, and often they may be accidentally interpreted if you have the “shake” setting turned on. It’s a novelty at best, and doesn’t really add much to the experience. There are a lot of gestures to remember as well, which will be a hinderance to you if you don’t play the game for a few weeks.

Multiplayer is also another feature added for Alliance, both offline and over the PSN. Local co-op works just fine, with support for up to four players. Gold is shared equally amongst teammates, while items are up for grabs. There is some competition in the form of different battle statistics constantly being calculated until the end of a dungeon. If you enjoyed this style of game in the arcade or at home with a group of buddies as you looted countless dungeons, then you will probably have fun here – unless you go online. Trying to join anyone over the PSN did not work once during our playtest, though if that does change we will update this review to let you know. Still, if the online co-op does not support voice chat then the recommendation is still likely to be to play multiplayer on one console.

Given the scarcity of dungeon crawlers these days, hardcore fans of games like Diablo, Dungeon Siege or Balder’s Gate will probably enjoy this title, especially for $15 (a bit less if you are a PlayStation Plus subscriber). It’s a completely generic affair, however, that does not stray from your typical formula of level grinding and copious, repeating dungeons. There is no character customization to speak of, online multiplayer just does not work yet, and Move support feels out of place for this genre. But what’s here is serviceable for the price, and as long as you go into this game with these kinds of expectations then you will find plenty of game for your hard-earned buck.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ Plenty of game here for a budget-priced title.

– Generic characters and audio, graphically weak.

– Move support seems out of place, online multiplayer does not want to work.

6 out of 10