Replacing the Mighty Keeper Part 3 – War For The Overworld
Have you read them? Good. So let’s have a look at War for the Overworld (WFTO), once again running on my slightly ageing Mac I had to turn everything down to minimum for it to run at any sort of playable speed but that’s more the fault of my old and not very 3D friendly laptop and not the game. Time to tell you the vital statistics
- Cost: On Sale @ £13.79 (down from £22,99)
- Available for: Windows, Mac and SteamOS
- MetaCritic Score: 63/100 (at time of writing)
- Steam Score: 75% positive
- Size: 1.6GB download
From the very beginning of this game things felt much more like Dungeon Keeper than Dungeons II. Right from the start after a short video intro your the put into the basic training. Quickly learning how to dig out your dungeon, claim your first portal and make your first few rooms. The imps operate as you would expect by performing the job they are currently on first and then taking on the next in order of a pre designated importance. You first make a barracks for training, lair for sleeping and then a “micro pig” farm for food as well as being taught that mining gold is one of your major concerns. Not exactly new and innovative more like a very familiar pair of shoes that you have not worn for years and feel ultimately comfortable but slightly strange all at the same time. The single player game takes you through various quests as you would expect, slowly introducing to you more and more units, spells and the like. It feels to me as if they got hold of the original Dungeon Keeper games, changed some of the basic introductory units, added the further complexity and some of their own flair.
War For The Overworld is made by Subterranean Games, a development team based in Brighton (UK) and the game itself was mostly funded through a Kickstarter campaign. It had backing from the creator of the original Dungeon Keeper, Peter Molyneux, as well as getting DK2 voice-over artist Richard Ridings in. It was released on 2nd April 2015 to a bit of a rocky start which explains for some of the low review scores. The dev team reacted to the voices of the fans disappointment quickly. On 13th April they released a YouTube video publicly addressing the problems by 10th June they had release the 1.1 patch. I am a big believer of releasing on time but I am also an advocate of releasing something that works. It’s a credit to them that they addressed the problem publicly and then releasing a patch to make it better it makes me wonder why the game was released in this state to begin with. I wonder how those reviewers might feel about the game today?
I have been playing the 1.2.x and now 1.3 version of the game and admit I have been thoroughly enjoying it. It’s a very different feel from Dungeons II, the game feels very fluid but there are some interesting design decisions. For instance in the the original DK each Imp that you conjured cost slightly more gold than the last (this may of changed in DK 2 I can’t remember). WFTO uses mana to create your helpers so there is less to think about when ordering more. Yes you can run out of mana (and you will) but it feels less important than running out of cash. I have been playing through the single player game and getting to grips with the differences.
So far I have very few criticisms about the game and none of them something to put me off playing it. The patches have introduced some new content which includes a full map editor with Steam workshop integration and many more tweaks and adjustments but there are still a few things that I am not entirely sure about. The game is very pretty despite my lack of 3D processing power but one major criticism is the font that they have used for the in-game text is tiny. Okay I’m viewing it on a 13″ laptop screen and not a Retina screen at that but it really creates a bit of eye strain for me. My second major gripe is quick keys, RTS style games like Warcraft and Starcraft encourage the use of quick keys to enable you to move around and produce units quickly. WFTO does have quick keys which you can totally re-map but to learn them you have to pause the game, go to the options, look at the thing you want to do and then memorise the key which really breaks flow. It would be a lot better if they could add the quick key learning into the interface although with the font they have chosen I have no idea how I will be able to see it. Maybe keep an up to date cheat-sheet on the website of the default settings.
The next issue that I have is not really an issue that I should have. Maybe I’m getting too old to take in so much content or maybe I just need to spend more time with the game but it does feel like I have way more units, spells and things than I know what to do with. There is a lot to take in, I would say almost too much to take in but that just might take me some time to learn, I have a full skirmish mode to cater to this and looking forward to trying and failing at multiplayer, hopefully there is a way I can persuade someone online to help me learn the system a bit more and explore.
Finally is something I hope they either fix or I have wrong. There are times that the creatures mill around and don’t do what I expect, I have had creatures stand right next to an enemy Blade Lotus (a dungeon defence tool) and walk away from it. I probably am not using the tools correctly to be honest but I believe that these should be fairly intuitive and when you have been playing computer games since the early 80’s you have seen quite a few game mechanics and begin to expect certain things to just work. The path-finding was one of the issues the game had in the early release so I seriously hope that is fixed and it’s something I have not quite figured out about how to play as yet.
I want WFTO to carry on getting better and to continue to support their community, all in all it is very much worth the cash, in the sale certainly so. I have ploughed about 10 hours into it so far and feel like I can put a lot more in, especially if I start to take on the multiplayer elements.