No product launch would be complete without a hack-and-slash game. This is one such game, you’re a resurrected king fighting against the forces of evil through caves, castles, forests, towns and sewers. The Vita showcases this game wonderfully as the controls are perfect, whilst the combat is simplistic at best that’s acceptable as most hack-and-slash titles are this way. The rear and front screens are used but not as much as they could be. Dungeon Hunter Alliance is a good benchmark for hack-and-slash titles for the Vita, as they can learn from what’s worked and what has not.
In a kingdom called Gothicus, the king and queen are wed and everyone is happy. As we all know happiness is fleeting, and as such the queen falls ill to a mystery sickness, the king does not accept her death and uses dark magic to stop her soul from crossing over. Doing this however causes a rift between the land of Gothicus and the darkness. The queen became a thing of evil and stabbed the poor king. We join the spirit of the dead king who is resurrected to fight against the queen and her evil plan to bring forth the evil fairy. Ok, so it’s very convoluted and not original, but the story fits the game so that’s fine.
As you start the game you will move to a character creation screen and give your persona a name. It’s a shame as you can’t really choose how you look, but instead have to choose between three classes of hero. You can be a warrior who has strong melle attacks but weak magic, a rogue who is fast and agile, has decent magic and is a good choice for most, or the final choice, a mage who is the spellcaster and as such is the most powerful at conjuring spells. The controls system uses all the buttons of the Vita, your main attack button is simply achieved by pressing the x button. The other three face buttons are left for skills that can be assigned. These can be a massive hammer-like hit, pushing enemies out the way or slowing them down. The left shoulder button is for consuming your health potion and the right is used to interact with various items, levers or doors. The left analogue stick is used for moving whilst the right stick moves your fairy around the screen. The front touch screen of the Vita is used to controls the in-game menus and also has a pinch to zoom during gameplay. You can also tap your on-screen fairy to unleash an attack. The rear touch screen is just used to move your fairy on screen if you don’t want to use the right stick. Now, these are Ok uses of the touch screens, but I have to say it feels slightly added on.
So, gameplay is pretty repetitive as you walk around the towns getting quests from people and then setting off across the land to fulfil these quests. Your adventure will take you through catacombs, villages, cathedrals, darkwoods and caves. Graphically the game is nice to look at. Not the best the Vita can offer by any stretch of the imagination, but still not bad. The colours are bright and pinching in allows you to see the detail of the people and places. The environments are suitably different from one another, however, all have a dark palette to them which adds to the distress of the whole land. The fighting mechanics are very button bashing and the impact recognition is not the best as you can press the attack button and it won’t register your first attack but will register the second one. The movement of your character is fine but there are also some issues where you can’t move but there is nothing visible in your way. A few more hours in the testing section was needed, I think.
This is nonetheless a fun game to play as fans of hack-and-slash will be happy. All the traditional aspects are here as the spells look good, character levelling up is present and there is loads of loot to collect. As you play, you gain experience points which can be assigned to various attributes. These are strength, dexterity, endurance and energy. Adding more points to various attributes allows you to use more powerful weapons or wear heavier armour. You can add armour to your head, legs, hands and torso. You can also wear rings and use a variety of weapons. These include axes, bows, staffs, swords and, of course, shields.
There is also another mode called the Pit of Trials that’s unlocked when your character reaches level 25. In this mode you have a horde of enemies to slay and as you kill them they may drop rare weapons. so this is a worthwhile mode to play in. This also adds a lot of replay value as you can level up here as well. The game also comes complete with a very nice multilayer option as well. You can play online or ad hoc, and you can join others in their games or host a game and gang up on the evil minions. It’s a good system as you can get help from people who are in the same act as you and you can also play the Pit of Trials together. It’s a fun way to play on the move which is what the Vita should be used for.
Overall, this is a typical hack-and-slash game as button bashing is pretty much all you need. Sometimes the frame rate can go down when there is a lot of enemies on screen and it can get annoying trying to move around. The effects of the spells look good, the graphics are nice enough but it’s a shame as they could have been better. Music-wise it’s mellow and nice, the voice effects are sometimes very cheesy but it’s acceptable. Dungeon Hunter Alliance is a nice game with some good story telling at times, the multi-player and Pit of Trails really add a lot to this game. Hack-and-slash fans will find much to enjoy here, but casual gamers may get frustrated by the repetitive nature.
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