Publisher: Kalypso Media
Developer: Realm Forge
by: Nick "bapenguin" Puleo
Its hard to talk about Dungeons and not talk about the classic Bullfrog game Dungeon Keeper. Both games share a similar concept - build out a dungeon to fill with heroes in a fairly light hearted manner. And while both games share this similarity, Dungeons does attempt a different approach at it by changing some gameplay mechanics.
In Dungeons you control an evil master who’s been cast out of his own dungeon by his ex-girlfriend - a hottie demon that back stabs you. Before you lies a series of quests that involve building new dungeons, taking over rival dungeons, and luring heroes from the world above into both. Your dungeon contains a dungeon heart which you must protect as well as an area of influence. Your influence expands as you build up prestige and soul energy as well as building pentagrams for monsters. See, while Dungeon Keeper was content to simply have you control your monsters and traps and kill whatever heroes wondered off the dirt road into your keep, Dungeons has you actually catering to heroes.
Heroes have needs, they want money - they want to kill - and some even like pain. You need to lure heroes in and temp them with gold, show them shiny objects on your wall, and let them kill swarms of bats to gain soul energy. Once they have this, you can kill them and put them in your torture chambers to get it out of them, expanding your dungeon. It’s an interesting mechanic, but at times its painfully slow as you wait for the goofy heroes to trot around finding things they like.
I do like that you have direct control of your dungeon master and that he can learn spells and abilities and fight directly. But your monsters themselves, even after spending soul energy to level them up, rarely are capable of dealing with heroes, making the game an effort in babysitting entrances.
While Dungeons stands on its own right, the pacing issues are my biggest gripe with the game. Whether is waiting for something to spawn, waiting for goblins to dig out walls, or waiting to gather enough prestige to move forward. In a way,it almost makes the game casual despite some really hardcore concepts here. If you’re looking for the next Dungeon Keeper, Dungeons sadly isn’t it. But if you want an interesting strategy game that’s different from anything out there now, Dungeons might be right up your alley.