The new Dark Alliance video game promises to give players a unique, choreographed experience with every battle, thanks to ’emergent combat.’
One of the biggest focuses in the upcoming Dark Alliance video game is the sheer variety of combat. The team form Tuque Games is here to talk about how they translated the spirit of D&D into an action game, trying to capture the feel of the DM saying “roll for initiative.” And from that, they developed a system called emergent combat that they hope will bring the elegantly choreographed fights that Drizzt is known for to a screen near you. Take a look.
Also it’s nice to get a glimpse of the plot. This game is a successor to both previous Dark Alliance games, but it carves out its own niche. The Dark Alliance here refers to a “dark alliance” of monsters who have banded together to attack Icewind Dale and claim a powerful magical artifact for their own nefarious purposes.
It seems like they’ve been paid good money to grab this Macguffin and use it to turn the tide of the Blood War.
If you’re unfamiliar with what a Blood War is, it’s not actually as you might think, a fantasy homage to the seminal work Osmosis Jones which took people inside the body for a look at the lives of blood cells–but instead it’s a war between the Tanar’ri and the Baatezu, or demons and devils. It’s the infinite conflict between two different but extremely evil sides of the same infernal coin. On the one hand you have rampaging demons who want only destruction.
On the other you got devils who crave a world that falls into their order.
And caught in between these infernal forces will be Drizzt Do’Urden and his bosom companions. As Tuque games says in the video, they’re all about finding those true to life D&D experiences and helping you get into the game.
Apparently there was a time where they had more of a focus on a linear narrative but that changed early on as they focused on combat–which is much like the early development of D&D. When it was born, it could have gotten more influence from Dave Arneson who was intrigued by what people were doing with Braunsteins, an experimental kind of role-playing wargame whose bones make up the genetic structure (I know that’s not how any of that works) of D&D.
Instead you got wargame -> hack and slash game -> game where a bunch of tieflings are a found family and they run an inn and also fight like, 12 vampires or something.
And so it is with Dark Alliance. Whose heavy focus on the action and visceral nature of the combat means that you should feel empowered as you play through the game. You’ll take on unique interpretations of some of Dungeons & Dragons most iconic monsters, as we’ve already seen with the previews of Hagedorn the beholder.
So according to Tuque, the game works on a “democratised combat system.” You start the game with simple inputs like light and heavy attacks, and as you progress, you learn more combinations and ways that moves chain together kind of organically to achieve a ‘graceful dance’ for those who want to really master the system.
Which reminds mind of my all-time favorite hack and slasher series, Devil May Cry, where you can beat the game and have a great time, but if you want, you can learn how to chain together ice nunchucks, electric guitar solos that summon eldritch energy, killer sword slashes, and all kinds of weird guns to get the most style points possible.
And while I doubt you’ll be swapping between combat styles and weapons too much since every character has their iconic weapon set and a fairly well outlined progression system, I’m hoping that there’s a lot of room to play around with moves.
Sadly it looks like there’s a stamina system in place to limit the chain of moves you can do–I say sadly not necessarily because that’s inherently bad. If you want to crank up the drama having some cap on where your moves can go that doesn’t require you to precisely time each animation and build in moments that monsters can exploit–then having a stamina bar that you need to regen with parries and potions is probably gonna do it for you.
From what I have seen though, this game promises spectacle and over-the-top action with every setpiece. Here’s hoping they deliver.