While it might interest certain fans of the franchise, the release of Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II on the Nintendo Switch didn’t do it for me.
I was provided with a free digital copy of Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II on the Nintendo Switch for review. The opinions I have shared are my own.
Nintendo Switch has a hit-and-miss track record of bringing back beloved franchises and titles. Sometimes it scratches the itch of pure nostalgia other times it’s a rude awakening to the very limited graphics, gameplay mechanics, and overall prestige that we, as kids and young teens swear on that it looked way more realistic and felt more groundbreaking than it actually was.
Unfortunately, my introduction to Baldur’s Gate is ‘Dark Alliance II’ and I can safely say that it did not make a fan out of me both from a gameplay perspective to a shoddy NS release that definitely needed more time in the oven.
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II originally debuted back in 2004, being a story told in the world of Dungeons & Dragons which, in and of itself, comes with major backstories for the main cast of characters or “adventurers” as they are referred to. It’s a hack-and-slash action role-playing game developed by Black Isle Studios and published by Interplay Entertainment. The title came over to the Nintendo Switch on July 20, 2022.
From what I’ve gathered, ‘Dark Alliance II’ picks up directly after the original ‘Dark Alliance’, in which five adventurers are thrust into a conflict concerning the legendary land called Baldur’s Gate due to a growing evil as well as to discover the fate of the heroes from the first game.
The sequel allows you to pick one of the five heroes befitting a typical fantasy setting classes/races. You have got a male Human Barbarian, a female Drow Monk who would be classified as a dark elf, a male Moon-Elf Necromancer, a male Dwarven Rogue, and a female Human Cleric. Since these adventurers all have their own name and identity the class and race are insta-locked and unchanging which felt really disappointing to me.
I typically like Elves and playing as an archer/rogue. Neither of those things was coupled together in any of the characters presented to me. I can understand from a story perspective why this was made so, but I just couldn’t get myself to feel passionate about any of my choices. So, I ended up going against the grain and chose Ysuran Auondril, the Moon-Elf Necromancer.
You take your first quest mere steps into picking your character and very quickly become acclimated to the environment. It’s minimal but it gets the job done, all the while I’m reminding myself that I’m playing a game from 2004. The voices of the characters sound very grainy and hollow as if you were listening through a cup to your ear or something of that nature.
The character movements are very stiff and man, oh, man did it feel absolutely painful using my weapon to strike enemies. Your character has to be crashing into the enemy model in order to land a hit with your dagger/sword guaranteeing that you will take damage from enemies simultaneously as you swing. Now, you might be saying, “Well, Micah, you’re a necromancer. You’re a mage. That’s what spells are for!” Which, while correct, didn’t work the way you might think.
You see, my starting spell was Life Drain, and it was equally painful to use it because the range was so small I might as well have been using my dagger. It also happens to be a single target spell which guarantees me a swift death when faced with 2 or 3 enemies surrounding me. It does minimal damage and it drains the heck out of my magic meter in a matter of seconds. I just felt like the weakest necromancer in all of existence and even as the game progressed and I unlocked more spells (like summoning a skeletal corpse or conjuring a shield) I had no way to defend myself against rooms that had four or more enemies.
Look, I’m all for RPG titles. I love Skyrim, The Witcher 3, Dragon Age, and other games of the like. I understand the ins and out of having skill builds and progression in such games, but ‘Dark Alliance II’ never let me feel powerful or even let me feel like my points were giving me new and improved spells. If anything, I found more flaws in my combat and spells than I did looking at the cool ways I could progress through the various dungeons. Leveling up felt inconsistent. There was no XP meter to gauge how close I was to more skill points or points for my attributes (strength, intelligence, wisdom, dexterity, constitution, and charisma). I would imagine that a game that is being brought to a modern platform would at least keep the quality of life features in mind but alas, no.
I understand that Baldur’s Gate was probably a catalyst for how we play RPG games today but it just doesn’t feel accessible anymore. It feels bare, clunky, and lifeless which really is a huge bummer because the media I see for this franchise is amazing. The fan art, merch, memes, etc. are all top-notch. But, in contrast, ‘Dark Alliance II’ wasn’t given the love it needed to feel accessible for current times.
Briefly, the music is fine. It’s not terrible and it does work well in the right locations. Speaking of locations, they’re… also fine. Nothing to write home about.
Finally, the biggest gripe is the crashes. And not just minor crashes, but a major crash that left me unable to progress in the game any further than the first 3-4 hours that I was able to play. There is a sequence in a bloody manor. After reaching the estate’s horrifying depths of blood and twisted experiments in a lab, you get to face a mini-boss, which, upon killing it, forces you to flee a poisonous-gas filled room. Once completing the marathon of countless enemies attacking you, the game abruptly crashes and after four times of replaying this same scenario, I had no choice but to let this game disappear into obscurity in my vast backlog of other games I have yet to play or finish.
Perhaps I played the wrong game in the franchise to introduce me to the world of Baldur’s Gate. I’d be willing to give this franchise another try. But as for ‘Dark Alliance II’, it failed to impress.
Author: Micah Carrillo
Micah is studying English and Digital Design. His love of geek culture spans across diverse mediums and genres. Comics, anime, films, you name it! He enjoys video games on the Nintendo Switch and Xbox.
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