Greed and Apathy
Determined not to be thwarted by such dumbfounding design oversights, I made some adjustments to my playstyle. I started dumping points into a channeled ice spell that did cold damage in a line while slowing enemies. I figured, if I can't peg them at full distance due to the camera, I can slow them as they close and kite them. For those unfamiliar with the term, “kiting” is the act of slowing an enemy, or boosting one's own speed to keep them futilely chasing you as you attack from a safe distance. It's a common technique employed by any experienced RPG player looking to keep their squishy ranged character alive. It was when I started kiting enemies that I exposed what might be the worst bug I have ever seen in a retail release of a game.
Apparently, there is a radius around every enemy's spawn point, past which they are not “supposed to be”. For some enemies it was one screen length, for others it was a couple of inches. Any time an enemy wanders beyond that radius (IE: when you kite them) they spaz out, become invincible and either run back to or just magically warp back to where they spawned from. Once they have, they become hittable again, but will have recovered any and all health they had lost while you kited them. This isn't occasional, it doesn't happen some of the time, it happens every time. It took 10 minutes of playing for me to unearth this game breaking glitch. I can replicate it at will. Either the PS3 version had the same problem and Gameloft never bothered to fix it, or their QA process is that bad. I'm not sure which of the two is more unforgivable.
To put it bluntly, this is the single worst oversight I've born witness to in nearly 30 years of gaming experience. I understand that developers are human, and can make honest mistakes. There is nothing honest about this one. It's pure, damnable apathy. Plain and simple.
All these issues collide in a mesmerizing display of ineptitude when you fight one of the many bosses in the game. Imagine scores of weaker enemies choking the framerate to a near halt, lacing into you from off screen with ranged attacks while groups of half damaged melee attackers glitch out and reappear at their point of origin with a full health bar. All the while you're fighting a boss who is too fast to keep a distance from and can kill you in a couple of hits. Amidst all this chaos, the terrible collision detection makes bobbing and weaving an exercise in futility, leaving you subject to mass goblin gang-bangs that invariably end in a game over screen. During these cluster-fucks of Transformers: Dark of the Moon-esque proportions, the only reasonable tactic for survival is spamming the potion button - which brings me to my next point of contention.
The potion system, along with most of the rest of the RPG elements in Dungeon Hunters, are poorly wrought. At every check point, you'll find a “potion shrine” where you can buy potions for a nominal fee up to your maximum carrying capacity which, at the start of the game, is ten. There's only one kind of potion. Said potion refills both your HP and MP to full near instantaneously and has no cooldown limitation of any kind. You can chug them as fast as you can press the L button. No ARPG I've ever played handles potions like this, which is fortunate, on account of it being a terrible idea. It trivializes any sense of challenge the game could possibly have. It almost seems as if the developers knew their game was broken and unplayable, and rather than find a way to fix it, they took the easy way out and gave the player a near limitless supply of “get out of jail free” juice.
Though none are as glaringly awful as the potion mechanic, many other staple ARPG systems wind up dead on arrival in Dungeon Hunters. The equipment screen is a counter-intuitive mess. Itemization is extremely shallow, with very little in the way of exciting and/or unique gear, even towards the end game. There's no crafting system of any kind either. Oh and your little fairy helper, we wouldn't want to forget her! She provides you with a powerful area of effect spell with a long cooldown. It's essentially meant to help you get out of rough spots but the only way to activate it is by double tapping the touch screen. It's bad enough that a mechanic designed to turn the tide in tough fights requires you to take one hand off the controls, making surviving said tough fight a virtual impossibility. But adding insult to injury, it only activated correctly once in any three times I tried to use it, which in retrospect, should hardly have surprised me given the rest of the experience.
Indeed, I could fill several more agonizing pages trying to fully chronicle this mockery of a video game, but my point should be abundantly clear by now. This game hates you and it begs to be hated back. With iOS and PSN versions pricing out at .99 and $12.99 respectively, the Vita version of Dungeon Hunter: Alliance, and its $39.99 price tag stand as a towering monument to corporate greed that both the publisher and the developer should be ashamed of. Never before have I witnessed such a stunning act of cynicism as that of releasing this game in the state it is in. I implore anyone who has read this far: do the right thing and vote with your dollars. Let Ubisoft and Gameloft know that this isn't acceptable by steering well clear of this shell of a game and spending your hard earned cash somewhere else.