Nice Try, Dungeons

Looks just like Dungeon Keeper, right? WRONG.

When I found out about Dungeons, I was immediately interested: It promised to be if not a sequel, but at least a homage to my old favourite Dungeon Keeper 2 (sadly, I never knew the first one). I played the Demo, but, I admit, not for long. It was just too annoying to play. I am not able to go into details about how the interface works, or what the possibilities are, because frankly, I have no idea.

The game is everything but straightforward. Of course, I expected something similar to DK2, but so far, everything is different! First, there’s an omnipresent Dungeon Lord, controlled by the player, with a health and mana bar and spells, as can be seen at the bottom of the screen. There are three branches of a skill tree that can be levelled. But wait, this is not an RPG, this is DK, and there are Goblins who dig through walls. Strangely, every wall they rip down creates some gold (although the little goblin/pirate game helper tells me there are gold veins somewhere, I haven’t seen any yet) which they have to bring to the Dungeon Lord, instead of a treasure chamber. Do I have to mention that having Goblins run through an entire dungeon to deliver 5 Gold is ridiculous?

Second, the Monsters. There are no central gates, but rather pentagrams that I have to build to summon them – and they also increase your influence range (another addition). They also require separate sleeping rooms now, and you can only build a pentagram once you have a special lair. Fair enough. But so far, all the creatures simply hang around their pentagram, never moving through the dungeon! I can’t control them! This means I had to send my Dungeon Lord to and fro all the time to do the fighting. And when my monsters did fight, they usually died instantly.

Which brings me to third, the heroes. The hero gates, once opened, “release” heroes into the dungeon at regular intervals. But it’ll do no good to just kill them! Oh no, they have to be happy and content or whatever before they die, to produce Soul Energy. To make it more complicated, it’s not just gold they want: Some heroes are masochists and like to be hurt by my monsters. One hero smashed five of my skeletons without getting any happier, so I guess my monsters weren’t up to the task. And even the gold diggers are weird. My Dungeon Lord had to hide behind a corner like a child pulling a prank, while the heroes fill their pockets with gold or marvel at some of my decorations. Oh right, Prestige. Next to Gold and Soul Energy that’s the third type of “currency” required to build, for example, prisons. I have to fill my dungeon with “decorations” such as coffins, shelves and piles of bones (almost too small to see!) to make it more prestigious? Excuse me? Is this Dungeon Keeper or did The Sims sneak in here somewhere?

To top off the rancid gameplay, there is no coherent way to be sure of what you’re supposed to be doing. Suddenly, a message can pop up, telling you that you failed some challenge you didn’t even know you accepted! More than once, I wondered what I should do, apart from waiting for heroes to kill.

To sum it up: Shame on you, Dungeons. As usual with games, simple is often better, and this game looks like it tried to improve on a good idea – and failed. In DK, the fun was to cater to the needs of your beloved monsters, feed them with chickens and let them win in the casino! In Dungeons, I try to please random heroes that mean nothing to me. In DK, the great Horny appears sporadically, making him the bonus, the Joker, the deus ex machina! In Dungeons, my Dungeon Lord is running around more than the Goblins do, having to fight heroes while his minions stand idly by! What kind of a Lord is that?

It would have been so easy to simply remake DK! Can anyone try again, please?

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