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Dungeon Hunter: Alliance

For: PS Vita
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Lock it up and throwaway the key

Product: Dungeon Hunter: Alliance | Publisher: Gameloft | Format: PS Vita | Genre: Action, RPG | Players: 1-4 | Networking: wireless (adhoc), wireless (network) | Version: Europe
Dungeon Hunter: Alliance PS Vita, thumbnail 1
There was one very specific moment when I realised that Gameloft's action role-player Dungeon Hunter isn't just a bad game - it's a miserable, technically incompetent mess.

I'm deep within the Goblin King's lair, and after wailing on about 150 identical goblin minions I'm importuned by a lumbering troll. He may be slow and dimwitted, but his giant mitts do critical damage if they connect with my Level 5 rogue's bonce.

So I switch to a crossbow and decide to hang back and attack from afar. It works well for a moment, but he soon cottons on and starts to scamper away. I give chase and then, *poof*, the troll disappears into thin air.

The ugly monster proceeds to teleport across the level and magic back into existence on the other side of the room: only now with a fully-replenished health bar.

We keep up this charade, repeating it over and over again, until it sinks in: Ubisoft has simply published a shambles.

The troll blips in and out of existence about six times before I give up and switch to a sword.


I wish that this was an isolated instance, but Dungeon Hunter: Alliance - Gameloft's crude clone of Diablo, complete with random loot drops, endless critters to bash, a tree of skills, and a row of spells - frequently falls apart.

The loading times are painfully long, for instance, and for a game with such rudimentary isometric graphics it's surprisingly susceptible to slowdown and perfomance hitches in the height of battle.

The hit-detection is dodgy, scenery seems to exist simply to snag on the hero's trouser leg, and, as we previously discussed, enemies often appear out of thin air.

But Dungeon Hunter's problems run deeper than just bugs and protracted loading times. This is a deeply joyless game, which centres squarely on button-mashing your way through hours upon hours of unsophisticated fights, backtracking through dungeons and towns to accept and complete quests, and the odd bit of breathless innovation like placing a barrel on a pressure plate.


The real backbone of the game is its huge array of loot. By bashing on bandits and cracking open treasure chests you'll fill your pockets with swords and hats and belts and rings.

The actual inventory screen is one of the most overly complicated and stupendously unintuitive menus I've ever seen.

First of all: whatever happened to displaying - visually, and obviously - if a sword is more powerful than the one you're currently holding?

Reading streams of numbers and deciding which one is highest is about as much fun as calculating your tax return. Same goes for finding weapons that are unusable until your Strength or Magic stat is improved: but your weapons and stats are on two separate pages. It's mind-bogglingly inept.

There is one clever and surprisingly intuitive option, buried in a menu. You can choose to 'auto-transmute' low-level gear, which means you'll instantly turn crappy swords and ineffectual helmets into gold as soon as you pick them up.

Titan Pest

Gameloft isn't known for creativity, so don't expect much of a story. Your character - you can choose either a Mage, a Rogue, or a Warrior - is a recently deceased hero of Gothicus (seriously) who has been resurrected by a fairy and told to nip off and kill the tyrannical queen.

In true Legend of Zelda fashion, this fairy will follow you around at all times, chiming in with useless information and generally annoying you. Sometimes it blips like a metal detector when it's near treasure, and you have to sweep it slowly around the room by moving your finger around the Vita's rear. It's about as enjoyable as it sounds.

The quests aren't much better, either. Bash two of these, collect six of them, return four of those. There are bosses to find and kill, but in my experience they simply involve mashing the 'attack' button for about five minutes, glugging a potion after every cheap, unfair, undodgeable, and impossibly damaging attack. Again, words can't quite convey how boring and frustrating it is.

The "Alliance" in Dungeon Hunter's name refers to online co-op. It definitely does what is says on the back of the box - up to four players can endlessly whack spiders in a clan, and speak through text or with Vita's voice chat party system.

This makes the game more palatable, but in the same way that bleeding to death is slightly less horrible if a friend is holding your hand.
Dungeon Hunter: Alliance
Reviewer photo
Mark Brown | 29 February 2012
Dungeon Hunter: Alliance is a lousy game. It's never particularly enjoyable, is technically clumsy, and looks like garbage. It may well be the worst game in the Vita's launch line-up
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