While many modern RPGs have tried to spice up their dungeon-crawling with deep plots and customizable characters, Dungeon Hunter: Alliance is unapologetically hack-and-slash. Harkening back to Diablo and Gauntlet, the game is a fun, though flawed, button-masher where players must save their kingdom by killing swarms of enemies and collecting as much loot as possible.
Dungeon Hunter: Alliance uses the same story as the iPhone game Dungeon Hunter. You play a king who used dark magic to bring his queen back from the dead, whereupon she expressed her gratitude by murdering you. The game starts when a fairy awakens you from your eternal sleep to give you a shot at making things right by stopping your queen, who’s spent the last 25 years ruling your kingdom as a tyrant. You do this by fighting her minions in a variety of dungeon-like settings while completing plenty of side-quests along the way.
You can play a warrior, mage, or rogue; each has favored weapons and deep skill trees. Leveling is fast and any cutscenes can be skipped, so it’s easy to experiment with various classes to see what style you like best.
No matter what you choose, the game is unlikely to pose much challenge. You’re constantly attacked by swarms of monsters, but special attacks and your fairy companion’s potent elemental powers allow you to plow through them with only basic resource-management and positioning tactics required. Skills are at their best against the game’s more tactical opponents, like archers and mages, who tend to flee and take protection behind mêlée allies. Boss fights offer some challenge when you need to try to avoid the boss while taking out its minions, but solo fights largely amount to whaling on the enemy and chugging potions until it goes down.
Only mages have healing spells, and health regeneration is slow. This isn’t a problem, since potion vendors are spaced regularly throughout the dungeons, so you can just use your plentiful gold to keep stocked up. Even if you do die, there’s no real penalty. You just respawn a short walk from where you fell, and keep all your XP from the fight that killed you.
Dungeon Hunter: Alliance supports up to four players, either locally or online. Collaborative play lets you blend the classes’ strengths, and increases the value of dropped items. But it’s still more chaotic than tactical, with everyone just trying to deal with the even larger swarms of bad guys. The $12.99 price tag makes it easier to forgive the game’s shortcomings, though. Dungeon Hunter: Alliance isn’t sophisticated or original, but it’s an entertaining game to play casually solo or with friends. —Samantha Nelson Rating: B-