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Dungeons 2

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By elethio23-07-2015
Dungeons 2

The Defence

Developer:
Realmforge Studios
Publisher:
Kalypso Media
Genre:
Strategy
Release Date:
24-04-2017

The Prosecution

CPU:
Intel Core i5 3.2 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA:
Nvidia GeForce GTX 650
AMD Radeon R7 265
RAM:
4 GB
HDD:
5 GB
DirectX:
9.0c

The Case

Dungeons 2, released April 2015 by Realmforge Studios and Kalypso Media Digital is the third title in the series. The first two games, while not being bad, did suffer from certain design choices that did not live up to fans expectations. Dungeon Keeper was the 1997 game that spawned this genre of “Dungeon Management” games, and it’s the one that all others are judged by. Essentially the game was based around a reversal of the usual dungeon exploration games, placing the player as the villain instead of the hero, and dispatching any sorry heroes who who dare invade their domain. To complement this role, the art style in Dungeon Keeper was very dark and distorted, and alluded to the twisted role that the player is being placed in. Dungeon Keeper was also full of memorable & comedic touches, as the narrator (Richard Ridings) guided the player in their role as the Dungeon Lord. Dungeons 2 has some big studded leather boots to fill, if it’s going to be known as a worthy successor to to Dungeon Keeper.

The Trial

After a brief introduction, you're given control of the “ultimate evil” for a short spell of goody bashing. Things at this point are more reminiscent of Warcraft than Dungeon Keeper, with you controlling your avatar and minions in an RTS fashion. Still, this is quite a satisfactory beginning as your sadistically overpowered avatar quickly dispatches all opposition. Then just when it looks like the end for all things chirpy, the good guys manage a final hurrah and summon a demi god that banish your avatar back to the underworld.

Look at them go.

Look at them go.

This is when the game properly begins, your disembodied avatar is left sat on a rickety throne deep underground with no power left to even lift a pebble let alone move from his room. So there you are, head in hands, the ultimate evil filled with ultimate depression. I couldn’t ask for a better start.

The abrupt change in fortunes for our Ultimate Evil has also meant an abrupt change in gameplay, instead of wondering around caving in knight helmets willy nilly, you now have only a few pathetic minions left to rely on. In true Dungeon Keeper style it’s now necessary for you to guide your minions through tunnelling and expanding your dungeon and eventually enticing some more powerful minions to come and work for you, for your glory and of course for your gold too.

Already by this point we have been guided through the game by a slightly camp, and very sarcastic narrator: Kevan Brighting. Also known for narrating The Stanley Parable. Kevin definitely seems to relish his role and was a brilliant choice by the game developers. It was about at this point in the game that I decided to pause and get a cup of tea. I had neglected however, to pause the game, and upon re-entering the room I was greeted by a tirade of exasperation at my lack of interaction with the simple tasks I had been given. The game was swearing at me!

Improvement of neighbourhood is done block by block.

Improvement of neighbourhood is done block by block.

I have to concede now, that this judge is bought. There is no way that I could give a bad score to any game that made me laugh this hard, it’s just one of those things that will make me overlook a mountain of faults. However as it stands there is little to fault about Dungeons 2 but in the interests of due process I will continue to list any shortcomings.

Now that we have been given some “gentle” introduction on how to manage our dungeon, the game begins to introduce new rooms, mechanics, and minions, as we progress through the campaign. At the start of each mission, objectives and new mechanics are introduced by the narrator, more objectives may also be revealed later as you complete these. As mentioned, the narrator can become petulant and even downright insulting if you take too long to do things. If you still need further reminders, there is a list of all mission objectives at the top left of the screen. There are also plenty of tool tips throughout the game, altogether Dungeons 2 does a superb job of teaching and explaining things.

The art direction for Dungeons 2 is very different to that in Dungeon Keeper, indeed everything has a bright clean cheerful look to it, that feels much more suited to your enemies from the “kingdom of good” than to a twisted and sadistic “ultimate evil”. However there is a very strong tongue in cheek vibe running throughout the game, which manages to reconcile the cheerful imagery with your dastardly deeds.

Look at all the chickens...I mean beer.

Look at all the chickens...I mean beer.

Despite the slight disparity with the art style, all the art assets are very well done, particularly with the overworld. This is where the artists really had some fun, the same piece of ground in the overworld will keep its general formations, but still will morph its appearance drastically depending on its ownership by good or evil. As well as the landscape and buildings, all the flora and fauna will change and fluffy rabbits are replaced by gremlins or warty toads etc.

When it comes to multiplayer there is no frantic scrambling for the upper hand against opposing dungeon lords, there is no flanking your enemy with tunnels or aggressively capturing their dungeon with imps snots. The warfare is more sanitised, creatures may die, doors may be broken, but your dungeon will retain its integrity and purpose, clear out the attackers and it doesn’t take you long to get things ship shape again.

I find this change a little sad, because as messy, and unpredictable, and broken, as dungeon warfare might of been in Dungeon Keeper, the direct challenge to your dungeon itself really added a sense of urgency and some fallout to the fight. It was as if two actual “dungeon entities” where doing battle, rather than just the creatures who inhabited them.

Unicorns and rainbows – yuck!

Unicorns and rainbows – yuck!

In skirmish and multiplayer games, the pace of combat is slow for two reasons. Firstly you just don’t feel very threatened, there was no real sense of urgency to the combat. Secondly, going on the offensive is completely reliant on your research level and this takes time, too much time. Some later upgrades can be unlocked once you corrupt a certain amount of the overworld but getting to this point still takes too long. On the whole skirmishes feel more like a sandbox than a real fight.

Skirmish and MP modes will let you choose the standard monster set with goblins and Orcs etc, or their demonic counterparts who sport flame demons and “mistresses”. Beyond looking different both evil teams also work a little differently. The demons team need admiration instead of food, traps work more with spiders than explosives and many other small differences too.

Case Review

  • Funny: Great Humour and Imagination.
  • Hey Good Looking: Great art design, attention to detail, & cute monsters.
  • Great Curves: Easy to pick up, plenty to learn, but you never feel out of your depth.
  • Wanna Have Some Fun: Fun dungeon design and management mechanics.
  • Easy To Use: Good UI and controls.
  • Don't Get Rough: Skirmish not as fun as campaign.
  • Please Be Gentle: Not highly challenging.
  • And Slow: Sometimes it’s too slow.
  • No Spark: Magic is a little lacklustre.
  • Is That Cat Poo: Skirmish matches feel a bit like a sandbox.
4
Score: 4/5
Being evil is easy.
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