PC dungeons

Published on January 27th, 2011 | by Richard Motokovsky

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Dungeons – Preview

Why it has taken so long for a developer to ape Bullfrog’s Dungeon Keeper is a mystery. After spending days with Realmforge’s reincarnation, you realise what a brilliant concept it was and still is. Inverting the goal of classic fantasy RPGs, Dungeons has players assume the role of a dark overlord who needs to build and occupy a dungeon to harvest the souls of invading heroes to become more powerful and notorious.

Fundamentally a strategy game, players must place down minion spawn points, prisons, artifacts and creature comforts in order to not just eliminate heroes as they enter, but also fulfill their heroic aspirations with treasure, easy to kill fantasy fodder and elaborate gothic set-pieces, thus enabling you to harvest more delicious Soul Energy. Grand entrances to your domain are located on the edges of every map, so the challenge is satisfying and slaying respawning heroes without letting them overrun you.

Handily, as a dark lord you can fight alongside your forces and, appropriately, you are the most powerful unit in the game, with a dedicated skill tree to unlock new spells, melee attacks and build buffs. Even when faced with death, your persona can respawn at your home’s Dungeonheart. Be careful though, as if this structure is lost you immediately lose the scenario. This progression arc allows the dungeon size to slowly ramp up, and as your monsters earn new levels the action gets really chaotic, with heroes also increasing in strength, HP and spawning faster. Not only that, but super-powered knights spawn every 20 heroes slain to inspire panic among the ranks.

Visually, Dungeons emulates the dark fantasy themes perfectly, with walking skeletons, tendrils protruding through walls and scurrying Goblin workers performing your bidding automatically. The 3D environments allow your creation to be admired from all angles, and players can switch to the third-person overlord perspective at will.

We sampled the sandbox mode, where players can just let loose, and the Campaign mode which features an overlord who has been double-crossed by a feisty dominatrix, and it’s up to you to provide the vengeance he so desperately seeks. Just like Realmforge’s previous game, everyone should expect plenty of humour to punctuate the experience. Unfortunately there’s no multiplayer mode to speak of, but being in control of these dark lairs is so empowering that you wouldn’t want another person spoiling your fun.

On the surface, Dungeon’s appears to be a Dungeon Keeper clone, but it’s more than that. It takes the core concept and expands upon it in new and exciting ways while remaining just as satisfying and addictive as Bullfrog’s beloved series. This could be the strategy game we’ve waited over a decade for.

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