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Dungeon Hunter: Alliance (PS Vita)
Game Reviews

Dungeon Hunter: Alliance (PS Vita)

An over-priced port of a lackluster game who’s only reason for being is to hopefully cash in on unsuspecting new Vita owners desperate for something to play.

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Sony’s new PS Vita portable is here and so are the launch games. Among them are quite a few by publisher Ubisoft, some great and many not-so-much. Sitting firmly in the latter category is their port of Gameloft’s Dungeon Hunter: Alliance, a Diablo-style RPG that first appeared on the PlayStation 3 (via PSN) last year before touching down on the Mac App Store, both of which can be purchased for considerably less than this full-priced version. Like the iOS game that spawned it, it’s a title so lacking its own identity and so dull in execution that I can’t think of a pleasant way to introduce it. As with any new platform launch, Ubisoft is simply taking advantage of the Vita’s dearth of quality games and hoping to make a few bucks before the quality games start rolling. Act accordingly.

The story starts out as you – the former king – awake from the dead to right an unholy wrong that has befallen your once-great kingdom during your tormented sleep. Fresh from the gave, you’ll create a character and choose a battle class (either a power warrior, enchanting mage, or a swift rogue) and set off for the village of Thamos where you learn of what happened to your throne. This shadow covered town is also the hub for other areas you’ll branch out such the usual forests, underground cave, and gloomy dungeons. And endless hordes of enemies you’ll need to hack ‘n slash your way through to earn experience, upgrade, and repeat as necessary.

During your campaign you’ll take on side-quests and gain new techniques when you level-up and gain attribute points which be used to further beef up your character’s stats, and like most role-players you’ll also learn an assortment of magic elements by collecting fairies and using your own winged companion to look for hidden treasure. This is well-tread territory for most RPGs and would make for a nice adventure if the execution wasn’t so dull and lifeless.

Repeatedly pressing the ‘X’ button is the only real requirement of this hack-and-slasher you’ll be able to get through a lot of the game by just wearing out your thumb and much else. If you want mix things up somewhat you can assign either two different weapons or abilities to your commands and quickly cycle through each with the d-pad with ease – managing your inventory is the noticeable bright spot here.

What isn’t so brilliant for a game with roots in the touchscreen world is how poorly it uses many of the Vita’s available resources. The only gesture functionality you get is pinching the display for zoom/pan and quick full-screen access to the map by double-tapping. You’ll also get limited control of your fairy by using the rear touchpad but even that ability doesn’t really work and is barely usable (using the right analog stick controls the fairy and does a better job).

I had high hopes that the redeeming factor would be venturing online and playing through the journey in co-op multiplayer, but finding a random partner proved difficult, if not impossible. My partners would quickly drop out as quickly as they dropped in, and that’s when the server wasn’t booting me out completely. When I was able to actually find a stable match the going was rough and even playing by character and quest preferences didn’t help made this wafer-thin adventure any more interesting or exciting. If have a few close friends who are willing to join your brigade I wish you the best, but then I would never subject my worst enemy to this game.

I could go on with my gripes about Dungeon Hunter: Alliance but honestly, what’s the point? It’s an ugly, poorly-made port of a sequel with roots in the touchscreen world of knock-offs, , putting it squarely near the bottom of the Vita’s plentiful bounty of cheap ports. Even worse, it’s grossly overpriced at $40, especially when the original PSN version can be had for 1/4 the price (and the Mac version for less than a dollar). But the game’s biggest sin is that it simply isn’t fun to play – and vanilla in every sense of the word. I certainly don’t mind when developers borrow from other, better-made titles (in this case Diablo) but they should at least make something that’s half as entertaining as the idea that spawned it.

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About the Author: Herman Exum