by Chris Capel
previewed on PC
Thrown In At The Deep Roads
Playing the game itself is tremendous amounts of fun for the most part, even though it’s currently dampened somewhat by the early preview code which doesn’t have cinematics, sound effects or a lot of polish. Consequently the story (yes, there is one) doesn’t make much sense and I don’t know if the classic phrase “your monsters are falling in battle!” makes an appearance.
While that is obviously forgivable, the tutorial isn’t. It pretty much starts with “look in the manual” and ends at about level seven. You’re pretty much on your own to discover everything, which isn’t too bad unless you keep reloading level one expecting to be able to win it. It is also a bit annoying when your sidekick advisor gives you totally incorrect advice. You are told there are plenty of pentagrams in the dungeon so you don’t need to build any, until you discover that “plenty” translates as “one” and that you have to build pentagrams – lots of them – to win the level or make any progress at all.
Still, the game completely allows for a nice relaxing pace in the opening levels so it’s perfectly fun to just mess about and see how it all works. It is all pretty straightforward stuff, just like all sim games should be – the management of space, resources and units to achieve your goals are the fun parts. Dungeons does a good job at doing this in a compelling way, and frankly I always clamor for management games where you have to be evil (Dungeon Keeper, Evil Genius and Ghost Master to name a few others).
Give Yourself To The Dark Side
The main problem I had with the game was, unless I’m missing something or haven’t gone far enough, that you don’t have much of a degree of control over anything. You can’t control your minions; for example, apart from the builder goblins, the monsters all just stand around and wait for heroes to come by. Furthermore, while there are distinct rooms for heroes (torture chamber, library etc) you can’t actually carve out an empty square and stick in a room. The room has to already exist and you just take it over. There’s honestly not a lot to do.
It’s really refreshing to play a sim game where you start off as the bad guy, as there are far too few of those around. There is Kalypso’s own Tropico series of course (although it is debatable whether you are actually ‘evil’ in that), but otherwise there has not really been one since the superb but underselling Evil Genius.
Dungeons is a little fiddly at the moment, but we have been assured that there is a lot of polishing and level tweaking to be done still. The mechanics are pretty fun, so if they can balance the game out successfully and make you feel more in control of everything, this one could end up a terribly great sim.