by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
The “borrowing” of ideas could be considered the staple of the entertainment industry. Whether it is film, music or games, few things ever created are new or original. There is a Dutch saying that plays right into this. Roughly translated it goes something like “It is better to steal something properly than to invent something poorly” which is usually a little more apt than the elegant but overly polite English equivalent “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. For Dungeons, developer Realmforge stole poorly when they tried to give a new spin to Dungeon Keeper’s brilliant “evil is good” gameplay. It wasn’t a bad game, it simply wasn’t the game people expected and the scores reflected that disappointment.
Master of dungeons
This time around, Realmforge has their snots (the in-game peons) stealing from Dungeon Keeper “properly”. With all the good stuff well and truly brought on board of Dungeons 2, they still added more. Lots more. The game features everything any fan could ever want from a Dungeon Keeper 3, you know, the game EA refuses to make. It has underground tunneling, digging for gold, you get to create rooms for production and research, you level up your minions and break waves upon waves of invading do-gooders with your Horde army and the wide range of traps that they design and deploy. Come to think of it, was Dungeon Keeper not the original Tower Defense game? If it was, it was one hell (no pun intended) of a lot better than the never ending stream of “me-too” Tower Defense games that are being churned out today. But I digress.
Keeping an eye on everything that is going on in your dungeon is already quite a bit of work - without - the ever present threat of invasion looming over your head. Despite that, Realmforge thought you might get bored and added a whole new layer of gameplay, quite literally, by adding an overworld which allows you to take the fight to the enemy. Instead of just sitting around waiting for them to come to you, you get to conquer their villages, castles and lands. And if that’s not enough, the campaign offers you quests of various sizes and difficulties that you will need to bring to a good end if you want to progress. So much to do, breathe!
It really is a lot to take in but the campaign does an admirable job of introducing new concepts such as upgrading dungeons, acquiring new unit types and how combat works in the overworld at a steady pace. Some of the credit for the ease at which you pick up new concepts should go to the game’s narrator. His sarcasm-drenched lines, often as instructional as they are entertaining, remind you of what is required to progress or inform you of what is about to go wrong if you don’t pay attention like, right now. Some of his jokes can get a little cheesy - the constant references to Game of Thrones for instance - but the tone of an exasperated narrator who would rather be doing something else works quite well with Dungeons 2’s evil is good theme and adds to its liveliness.
In the dungeon, you are the master of magic and positioning. As long as you have mana, you can cast whatever spells you like and wherever you like. And as long as you have creatures that are still alive, you can pick them up and move to whatever location instantly. What you cannot do is point where your army should strike. There’s no way to single out a target, your minions will choose whose head to bash in first. All you can do is pick them up, drop them near the invaders and wait for combat to resolve. There is a spell that influences which enemy your creatures attack but there is no direct control.
It’s “Dungeon Keeper plus”, what’s not to like?
Say goodbye to your love life for a week or two.