Replacing the Mighty Keeper Part 2 – Video Game Review: Dungeons II
A small disclaimer before I start this review. I don’t have a huge beast of a machine, in fact I awkwardly run a Mac and an old(ish) one at that. It has an Intel HD 3000 video card built in and is definitely not built for running intensive games. Saying that, I was quite surprised at Dungeons II and how it ran, of course I had to turn everything down to low but it ran. First of all some vital statistics.
- Cost: On Sale @ £10.49 (down from £29,99)
- Available for: Windows, Mac and SteamOS
- MetaCritic Score: 70/100 (at time of writing)
- Steam Score: 73% positive
- Size: 2.5GB
Starting the game you are greeted with a little narrative telling you all about “The Ultimate Evil” that is filled with an underlying sense of dark humour and sarcasm, then taken by the hand into the inevitable tutorial. Tutorials are very tricky things to get right and if your going to hold the players’ hand and attention then adding in some sarcasm and gentle prodding of the players ability always sits quite well with me. The first few minutes see you controlling The Ultimate Evil via a more Warcraft like interface. Right clicking moves the character to the location, right clicking on an enemy creature attacks it and so on and so forth, it’s all very RTS standard. As part of the story you are overrun with enemies and then you get to retreat into your dungeon.
I was wondering how long they were going to keep me above the surface, being a bit of an introvert and sometimes socially awkward I felt much better being underground where I could plot the demise of my suppressors. Since DK was all about building your dungeon, it’s defences and then laying waste to the enemy Dungeons II began to feel very familiar. Here you begin to learn the basics, things like mining gold, expanding your dungeon, creating rooms and so on. Your also introduced to your first offence creature and very unlike DK instead of claiming a portal to attract creatures through you actually get to summon the beasts direct from your dungeon heart. This adds a bit of a tactical choice as to which creature you summon as each one costs an amount of gold to summon and then of course more gold and food to keep happy. Although this is a very slight game design change it does make Dungeons II play very differently to DK and I am still not sure how I feel about it.
The dungeon creation behaves roughly like you expect, you mark out walls to break down with your hand, pick up gold and slap creatures as much as you like but something feels a bit off. Sometimes when I expected it to highlight or pick something I didn’t. Maybe it was just me but it felt like the sweet spot of the cursor was not the whole hand but mores the finger extending from it so it did not at all feel like a hand. There are other interface niggles I have, for instance if I want to pick up multiple of one type of creature I can’t just mouse over the creature picture and click multiple times, rather I have to select the creature I want from a drop down list. Yes this gives me greater control on if I want to select my more or less experienced creatures to fight anything coming into the dungeon but I feel there should of been a better way.
Your soon encouraged to send you’re creatures above ground to take out some of the good guys and claim back the land into darkness. I thought when I was controlling The Ultimate Evil in the beginning that this part of the game was just some glue they were using to help the storyline gel but it becomes a fairly integral part of game play. The above ground control also feels wooly. Having been a fan of Warcraft, Starcraft and the Command and Conquer series the game lacks a slick RTS feel, your not able to make groups (or not that I found). Creatures generally attack the nearest thing to them when ordered and require a little micro management so that you can order them to attack healers or ranged attacks but the action never feels like action, there seems to be no urgency. This in my opinion is where the game really began to loose my interest as the above ground sections became more frequent.
I got stuck for a bit on a mission where you have to invade an enemy dungeon and take it over. To do this (spoiler warning) you are given some new units to help you avoid some of the traps. If like me you get them killed you have to reload the game from a point where they are not dead because the game does not open up a way to create these units until the next mission. Being punished as a player for doing silly things is fine but give me a way to correct my mistakes without having to reload a saved game, it breaks flow and just makes the game feel more clunky.
I’m not saying that Dungeons II is a bad game, it’s definitely got enough in it to make me play for seven hours but I feel no real urge to play anymore. It’s not worth the full price in my opinion, I will always say that graphics do not make a good game. The story is not terrible, it does make you want to rid the land of those goody two shoes. For some reason, some way through the story they introduce an alternative evil character to play with and therefore a whole new bunch of units to play with that act very slightly differently from the first one. I suppose this is like switching between Terran and Zerg in Starcraft with less complexity, although I’m not sure how deep that analogy goes.
Part of me would like to at least try to finish the single player campaign but that would mean having to do more of the above ground stuff and cope with the feeling that the pace of the game should be significantly faster than it is and I’m just not prepared to do that. Right now it’s cost me £1.57 per hour as a game which is not that bad but I would not recommend buying it to others. I would much rather people pay £10.99 to pick up both copies of the original and still have change for an ice cream and who does not like ice cream.
Overall score: 6/10
Love and rockets