Dungeon Hunter Alliance was barely worth the price of a cheap download on the PlayStation Network when Gameloft released it for the PS3 earlier last year. That Ubisoft decided to release the game as a full-priced game to capitalise on the Vita’s launch is downright offensive.
Virtually nothing has been changed or fixed for this release. It is exactly the same technically-competent-but-soulless Diablo clone that it was before. There are three classes of men to choose between (no women here), and they conform to the archetypes of the genre – there’s a warrior, wizard and rogue.
A large, but largely unbalanced skill tree will fill up as you increase in level, though there are a few skills for each class that are impossible to ignore. The customisation available in this game is nowhere near as impressive as it might seem on the surface. There’s a lot of loot to collect and, again, this superficially allows you to customise your character, though again you’re just as likely to stick with the easy options, and just equip the best bit of equipment your current level allows for.
And then it’s time to trawl dungeon after dungeon, hacking stuff up and collecting loot. There’s one main “mission” in constant effect. There’s side quests, but typically these are completed on the way to the next main objective. There’s not much scope for genuine exploration in this game. These dungeons are, as you’d expect from a Diablo clone, non-stop action affairs, though the bland, generic environments and ugly characters (the resolution is so low that characters look fuzzy when zoomed in) make the action as uninteresting as humanly possible.
The one and only Vita-exclusive addition to this game is your fairy companion. Now, she’s able to discover hidden loot (because this game wasn’t already hurling too much loot at you – and yes, that is sarcastic). It’s a special ability that has managed to make her even more annoying than Navi from Ocarina of Time. When she gets close to buried treasure, she’ll start glowing red and a big “!” appears over her head. Using the right control stick (there’s no camera control in this game, which would be a problem if I could care enough to care what was going on around me), or the back touch pad, you need to steer the fairy around until she can find the treasure. It’s an utterly pointless addition, which would be relatively harmless except it’s remarkably easy to accidentally tap the touch pad on the Vita. Which, when you’re not hunting for buried treasure opens the opportunity to send the fairy in a random direction away from where you need her, by your side, because she has a powerful screen clearing attack. Brilliant thinking, there.
The one redeeming feature is a working multiplayer mode, which is drop-in, drop-out and supports up to four players either locally or online. Of course, it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to play this game in multiplayer when the Vita is going to be an online multiplayer powerhouse, but hey, at least it’s there for the small community that seems to support Gameloft ripoffs.
On the PlayStation Network, Dungeon Hunter Alliance was a cheap little game with some easy hack-and-slash action that could be diverting in multiplayer for a few hours. On the iPad and iPhone, it’s become a freemium franchise. Yes. You can download the most recent game in this series for free, and you can download the other games dirt cheap.
On the Vita it’s the weakest game in the franchise yet, and costs as much as some of the far, far better games. Terrible form, Gameloft and Ubisoft, and while we appreciate the launch support for the console, there is no excuse to be charging full retail price for this.