Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Athanasios 03.12.2023

Review for Baldur

Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance was a somewhat decent hit during the early '00s when it was released for home consoles. Due to its critical and commercial success this simple hack 'n' slash ARPG that took place on Baldur's Gate universe, managed to spawn a sequel. Dark Alliance II was basically the same thing all over, pros and cons included, with some changes here and there. The version at hand, which is the one that can be found on Steam as well, is a remaster that polished the graphics… and nothing more than that. While a cool nostalgic trip back to the past that surely has its own charm, there's little reason to check this out, unless a super-fan of the genre and/or franchise, or an old-school gaming aficionado.

Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II is almost identical to the original, both in look and gameplay. You pick one amongst a team of playable characters (now five, instead of just three) and start hacking, slashing, and fire-balling in what is a mostly linear adventure revolving around a generic big bad who wants to do generic big bad things. If you worry whether you need to be familiar with previous Baldur's Gate instalments worry not, as one doesn't even need to know what happened in the first Dark Alliance instalment. As for the story on offer, it's your somewhat typical Dungeons & Dragons plotline, one that's not something special, but which at least leans toward the 'nice' side of the scale, with the only "downgrade" from the first title being the dialogue and voice-acting, which was somewhat better before - if only by a small margin. Don't expect the mature writing of RPGs the likes of Pillars of Eternity, of course. This caters more to those who like their medieval fantasy a bit cheesier. You know… maniacally laughing bad guys and all. Not that corny (sadly), but you get the idea.

Screenshot for Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II on Nintendo Switch

Playing like an even simpler version of Diablo (yes, that age-old 1996 one), players will spend most of their time spamming the 'hit' button (less severe for spellcasters), occasionally pressing the 'use ability' button, or the 'drink health/magic' one. There's - simple - loot to collect, minor equipment upgrading to be done, and, of course, skill points to assign whenever a level-up happens, with a variety of different abilities, passive or otherwise to choose from. While this isn't exactly a Diablo II killer, each of the available cast members plays a lot different than the rest, so it's important to check them all out for about an hour, to find out which one you like the most.

Character selection is probably the most very crucial step here, as it will be this choice where all the fun or aggravation will stem from. For example, while the "Barbarian" and the "Paladin," which are basically the Tank and the Healer classes, are extremely useful when on 2-player co-op mode, they make slow pace of the game even slower, whereas spellcasters are, once again, much better for solo play, like in Dark Alliance. Whoever you choose, do try to be careful with skill point distribution as well, as there are many skills that are worthless, and some that are kind of unbalanced.

Screenshot for Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II on Nintendo Switch

Now… unless nostalgic of the game itself, or the era it belongs to, it will be somewhat hard for most to enjoy what is nonetheless a good, but also quite archaic hack 'n' slash title, which was relatively simplistic even during the era it was released on. A bit too slow-paced, with enemies that are a tad too bullet-spongy, and with not much in the way of interesting loot, or additional mechanics to speak of, it won't be long before some will put the gamepad aside out of sheer boredom due to the repetitiveness of it all. Again, this is a good ARPG, but there are tons of far better alternatives out there. Maybe it's one of those titles that are best when enjoyed in short bursts. One trap-filled dungeon today, one dimly lit cavern tomorrow, and maybe a mansion filled with undead abominations before dinner. If you play more than an hour or two, your eyes will surely start to close. This of course makes this port the best one, due to the Switch's portability.

Screenshot for Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II on Nintendo Switch

Why leave? The price is way too high for what is a visual upgrade, with no rebalancing whatsoever, bug fixes, or additional material. Finally, the game is generally longer than the original, which while for some it was a great thing as Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance was criticised for being too short, to be honest this doesn't really justify its doubled duration. It's the same content stretched far longer than it should, frankly.

Why stay? If a fun of the medieval fantasy setting the atmosphere is pretty neat; the action is simple enough that one can approach this a bit more casually, and just get immersed into the early '00s feel of it all; The available classes are diverse enough for anyone to find a favourite, and, finally, the game doesn't overstay its welcome with a bazillion side-quests. Oh, and 2-player co-op is always an option, and something that makes this a much more enjoyable ride, especially when choosing the right class combo.

Screenshot for Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II is basically the first Dark Alliance instalment all over again. A super-simple, but at the same time fun hack 'n' slash ride through a D&D realm. Not exactly a classic, but something that retro fans (and maybe only them) will appreciate. Unless it gets a really good discount, however, there's no point in trying this out, as there are far better alternatives available, both old and new.

Developer

Black Isle

Publisher

Interplay

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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