Dungeon Hunter: Alliance isn’t a new game. Playstation Network has had it available for nearly a year, and Mac users have had it for nearly as long. Given that, it makes judging Dungeon Hunter on Vita difficult, especially when staring at a $40 price tag. The system is screaming for an RPG, and a game in the vein of Diablo should be a no brainer. Sadly, anyone that plunks down the money for Dungeon Hunter will regret their decision very quickly.
Developer Gameloft is well known for aping other games and Dungeon Hunter is no different. It is a basic hack and slash game, requiring such repeated mashing of the X button that it’s a miracle the button remains intact. Character classes are the generic Mage, Warrior, and Rouge, with all the typical game play and skills you would expect with each. While you can level up your character and map specific skills to combat, trying to make a hybrid class only serves to make your character useless. Weapons require such high skill points that a warrior can’t effectively use a bow, and a mage can’t ever manage a sword. Locking you into such a narrow path makes leveling a boring and archaic affair, preventing any creativity or experimentation by players.
Strict character development would be forgivable if the story or game play were engaging. Sadly, the story is terrible, even by the lowest standards. Your motivation for hunting in so many dungeons is not only the worst kind of generic fantasy fair, but it is horribly written and poorly paced. We are spared bad voice acting, thankfully, but the dialogue we have to read is not just cheesy and generic, it’s downright awful, insultingly so.
These relatively small pieces are really just adding insult to injury. The main problem with Dungeon Hunter is the poor execution in the basic mechanics. Combat is defined by mob after mob of enemies surrounding and hitting you while you press X and consume an endless amount of potions to keep your health up. It is a ridiculous cycle. Using special abilities, and your fairy companion, can provide some change, but most of the time you are simply trying to survive being swarmed long enough to spend all your gold on new potions. There is no strategy, no tactics, just press forward and swing.
Enemy AI also provides a high amount of frustration. Each enemy has a very small area that it is able to move in, and if you draw too far back or forward trying to avoid being surrounded, enemies run back to their starting points and recharge all their health. You have no way of knowing at what point this happens, and resetting battles on accident will lead to countless deaths and wasted resources.
Leveling up is also aggravating, most notably because you can’t level grind, a staple of RPGs. Each level you gain lessens the amount of experience you can grab from enemies, eventually whittling down to nothing. After you’ve cleared an area, you are usually maxed out, and going through a second or third time yields no additional experience. If you reach the end game, a horrifically designed series of boss battles that fully reset once you die, and you are under powered, you are stuck making do with the level you’re at. If you failed to level properly, you have to try and reallocate your skills or suffer. Of course, to do that, you have to reach a town, another point of insanity.
Fast travel, something that is expected in a game this size, does exist, but only between three points. If you happen to travel back to a town from the arena at the climax of the game, you can only teleport somewhat close to the final gate. You have to fight through 5 areas you have already cleared, gaining no experience and wasting your money trying to stay alive with potions just to get back to where you need to be. This goes for every area. Having only three spots to fast travel to that are wildly spread out between numerous sections is absolute punishment. If you could use the travels to level up further, or quickly pound your way through it, it would be less of a concern, but that isn’t the case. The mobs still come, and even low level enemies can sap you quickly, forcing to buy potions over and over, often times costing all of your hard earned gold. Punishing the player for trying to explore is antithetical to every game design I can think of, yet it continuously happens here.
To be fair, there were times when Dungeon Hunters provided some fun. I love loot grinding, and there was some enjoyment to be had trying to find new items and weapons. What makes Dungeon Hunter such a terrible game is the level of fun to price. At five to seven dollars, it would be an game that could satisfy the RPG itch until more meaty content arrives. At forty dollars it is an outright insult. Putting such a high price tag on the game places it in competition with games like Uncharted and Lumines, and Dungeon Hunter: Alliance can’t stack up. Save your money and pick up one of the many other quality titles and wait for Dungeon Hunter: Alliance to hit the five dollar bin.
|Trying to find new loot can be satisfying. Online co-op works beautifully||Everything else. Painfully repetitive game play. Awful story. Frustrating and poorly planned boss encounters. Terrible camera that hinders progress.|