Following on from the re-release of the original game last year, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II has now brought its dungeon-crawling adventuring over to the Nintendo Switch. I never actually got to play through the game during its initial release so had been excited to check it out – even if I was a little anxious to see if it would stand the test of time.
Has it? Well… it depends on what you want from the game. If you’re happy to have some old-school hacking-and-slashing, you’ll be in for a good time. If you want a bit more depth and nuance though, you might want to stick with a more modernised release.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Playing as one of five different characters that each has their own class and abilities, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II sees players venturing through the Forgotten Realms as they look to save the land (and the heroes from the first game) from the villainous vampire Mordoc SeLanmere. Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that and you can expect your typical D&D-style shenanigans to take place in-between it all, with the game certainly bringing enough depth to its lore to ensure that both the narrative and world are intriguing.
If you played the first game, you’ll know what to expect from Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II – whilst it does make refinements and improvements, the core experience remains mostly the same. This means venturing across a myriad of dungeons full of enemies to kill, gathering an abundance of treasure and loot, and completing all sorts of quests (which are admittedly pretty basic), with standard attacks joined by a wide range of special or magical abilities to help take out foes along the way.
The diversity of the playable characters on offer is much richer in Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II, with five characters available from the get-go that are more robust with their capabilities. Ysuran is a Necromancer that’s able to summon the dead to help in battle, Dorn is a Barbarian that’s able to use his brute strength to mow through foes, whilst Allesia uses her Cleric abilities to both heal herself or inflict light damage upon enemies, just to name a few. Each feels a lot more unique than the heroes found in the original game, and whilst they do share a lot of similarities when it comes to their standard attacks and gear they can use, they’re each specialised enough to suit individual player’s different playstyles.
And yes, it’s possible to unlock Drizzt in this game too, which will please long-time D&D fans…
“The diversity of the playable characters on offer is much richer in Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II, with five characters available from the get-go that are more robust with their capabilities.”
Combat itself is simple enough, especially when playing single player where you’re relying on one set of skills. In co-op (which is limited to local play), there’s plenty of room for strategy thanks to how diverse each character’s abilities are, but when rolling solo, it’s mostly a case of mashing attacks, using special abilities when you can, and then simply healing when needed. Even upgrading your character is a simple process, with it mostly a case of assigning points to the areas that feel most significant and equipping the more powerful gear as you find it. Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II doesn’t over-complicate things like levelling up or customising gear with an abundance of skill trees or nuances like more modern dungeon-crawlers do, but instead keeps things relatively simple.
It’s both a good and bad thing: it’s good if you just want a simple experience, but at the same time it feels much more limited than modern releases. There were times when I wanted to be able to fine-tune the different aspects of my character and their loadout as I would in a modern dungeon-crawler, but was instead left limited by what the game offered. Of course, this originally released back in 2004 so it’s easily forgivable, but it can make Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II a harder sell compared to the other titles you could be playing on your Nintendo Switch.
Want to know what doesn’t help? The hefty price tag. Whilst I try not to mention price too much in my reviews, the £31.49 you have to fork out for Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II feels VERY overpriced for what you’re getting. It’s not like the developers have made significant improvements across the board or included online play either – this is just a re-release of the original game, albeit in a HD resolution. It just feels like a lot to pay out, especially since the Nintendo Switch isn’t short on dungeon-crawlers that are deeper and more intricate in design.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Fortunately, the high price doesn’t make Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II a bad game. In fact, I had a lot of fun playing, whilst I could appreciate the improvements made over the original game. A more expansive and open-world to explore, more side quests to flesh out the experience, the expanded roster of characters… they all go a long way in making Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II feel bigger and better than its predecessor. And hey, it even manages to hold up visually too, even IF it hasn’t seen any improvements made over the original release. It also happens to run REALLY well on the Nintendo Switch, with the consistent 60fps frame rate, slick resolution (720 on handheld and 1080 when playing docked), and fast loading times making it feel perfect to play on the platform.
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II Review
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II is an enjoyable game that has clear improvements over its predecessor, but it does feel more limited compared to modern releases. It originally came out in 2004 and it tells, especially with the limited levelling up system, simplistic combat, and basic side quests.
It doesn’t make it a bad game though and I still had a lot of fun playing, especially in co-op where there was a lot more room for strategic planning thanks to each playable character’s unique skillset. Fans of the original will certainly enjoy it, especially since it continues the story that ended on a cliff-hanger and brings more of the same addictive gameplay.
The only real sour point is the price point, which feels really high for what you’re getting… it’s something I’m not sure a lot of gamers will be able to look past. But hey, if you don’t mind forking out over thirty quid for an eighteen-year old game, at least Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II is a decent one.
Developer: Black Isle Studio
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC