Backlog: Dungeons

dungeons

A “god game” quasi-tycoon dungeon management simulator a la Dungeon Keeper and Evil Genius.

Developer: Realmforge Studios
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Platforms: Win (reviewed)
Release:  2011
Genre: strategy, simulator, dungeon management
Metacritic score: 65
ESRB: M

This game appeals to the dungeon-master side of gamers. Take this dungeon. Attract those heroes by promising gold and combat and decorating your halls with ghoulish items. Let them get fat and happy with their loot… then KILL THEM ALL! It’s like evil-Disneyland.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t pan out quite as well as envisioned. The tutorial isn’t as explanatory as one would like leading to some confusing times in the first level. The actual gameplay is a little stale and wears out quickly. I felt like I “had” to play to get an honest review rather than enjoying myself.

Nitpicks: the graphics weren’t glorious, even for 2011. The first intro, Mr. Sidekick (yes, that’s his name) wasn’t even moving his mouth to talk, and later it didn’t line up at all. His voice appears to be inspired by goblin (read: annoying) Yoda, and the other voice actors aren’t great either. In fact, one sounded like he was pulled in off the street and told to read this paper in one take.

There is no real penalty for death, just a little health loss to your dungeonheart (which seems pretty blatantly stolen from Peter Molyneux’s 1997 Dungeon Keeper).

dungeons-game

The whole plot is set up by your demented girlfriend (obviously a winged demon in as little clothing as possible) letting the heroes in to cast you out of your own throne. Now you have to amass power by taking over standard fantasy realms one by one, starting with fat Hobbits Halflings who like to sing and be merry all day. Oh, and she calls you “Honeycakes” *gag*.

There is some gamer humor in the heroes’ one-liners. They randomly spout things like “Here comes my level up!” or “Look! Walking experience points!”

Like evil-Disneyland, however, you end up either micromanaging the heroes, waiting until they are at just the right fulfillment to kill them, or completely ignoring them while you go off in the direction of the actual objective. The heroes, while seeming like the more interesting gameplay choice, are really just a supply of gold who is trying to steal yours. They wander around, stealing from your gold piles, killing your minions, and gazing at the decor like tourists.

I had hoped to be able to build “real” dungeons and have adventuring parties come in to test them, as though I were the DM and the computer was playing my party as opposed to the typical PC DM and I am the player. This is not that game.

 

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