by Matt Porter
previewed on PC
Early Dungeon Access
There are endless games out there which have you taking a team of heroes down into a dungeon to defeat the forces of darkness. Developer Subterranean wants to change things up a bit with War For The Overworld. The game has you taking control of “a malevolent Underlord with unrivaled dark power and an insatiable desire for bloody conquest”. That certainly sounds a bit different to what I’m used to.
I went hands on with the early access beta to see what it was all about. In this version, both gameplay and features are still fairly sparse, but new additions to the game will be made continually over the coming weeks. For the moment, only basic mechanics are in place to give you an idea of how the final game will play.
Your Underground Kingdom
War For The Overworld is a dungeon management game where you will have to attract various dark creatures to fight for your cause against righteous heroes who are looking to cleanse your underground lair. You must protect the Dungeon Core, your most important building, at all cost. If it is destroyed by pesky do-gooders then it will be game over. It is also the place where your workers will bring back the gold that they mine from the far reaches of the dungeon.
The basic workers aren’t the most intelligent of beings, and will mindlessly go about their tasks without your input. When they see a piece of unclaimed earth, they will run over to place a floor there and build reinforced walls around it to bring it under your control. Torches are placed upon fortified walls to light up your dungeon, and these walls are harder for enemies to break through.
Your Underground Kingdom
A hidden Underworld Gateway can be found near to where you start. It is your portal through which you will attract units to your dungeon. You will have to dig through the earth to gain access to it, after which you can claim it as your own. The creatures of the underworld won’t just come to any old dank dungeon though, they need somewhere to sleep, eat and train just like anyone else. This is where dungeon room management comes in. At this stage of development, the game features simple living quarters, a slaughterhouse to produce micropiglets (a favoured snack of monsters), an archive to research new spells and rooms, a foundry to build traps and defenses, and lastly an archive where extra gold can be stashed away.
Rooms can be placed anywhere within your claimed territory simply by clicking and dragging, the game will do the rest. Over time, the developers are looking to add a feature called “The Veins of Evil” which allows you to specialise rooms based around the three sins of sloth, greed and wrath. The player will start with three Sins, and will receive more as time passes by. The Sins are used to unlock Aspects which in turn will grant special rooms, upgrades and abilities.
In the current build, the abilities available to you as master of the dungeon are limited to the simple summoning of workers and Possession. The latter allows you to take direct control over a unit, drawing you down into a first person view. These abilities cost mana, which will regenerate slowly as you play. Dozens more spells and abilities will be implemented throughout development though. Among these are a shockwave spell to use against enemies and the ability to make the very walls of the dungeon bend to your will so that they give you vision of a certain area. Eventually there will be a great mix of offensive, defensive and utility spells and abilities.
The Forces of Darkness
There are many different types of units that will come under your control from the Underworld Gateway. Right now there is a hulking Augre, a magical Cultist, a frightening Gargoyle and a mysterious Gnarling. Each will have their own sets of abilities that they will be able to use against the foes from the light, and against other dungeons to be found throughout the underground. Opposing dungeons will be signified by different coloured torches on top of their own reinforced walls. Your workers will attempt to overrun enemy dungeons and claim the land for you, but this process will take a lot longer than gaining unclaimed land, leaving them open to attack from the defenders.
Subterranean have big plans for their underground game, and if everything they have in mind comes to fruition, it could turn out to be a thoroughly enjoyable dungeon game with a big twist on the normal format. If you’re bored of being good, maybe it’s time to be bad for a change and check out War For The Overworld.