Dungeons 2, published by the excellent Kalypso Media who also publish my favorite series Tropico have a few other gems on the platform. Available for as little as £10 Dungeons 2 is a bit of an oddity as a game. It tries to be Dungeon Keeper and Dawn Of War but because it isn’t as good as either game it gets unfairly judged With the sequel Dungeons 3 in development it’s the perfect time to check this one out.
The story of the game is very tongue in cheek, almost painfully so. You start off as the ‘Ultimate Evil’ a recreation of Sauron from Tolkien. You battle your way to the last alliance of good and are on the brink of defeating them all when they gang up on you and defeat you leaving you as a floating hand trying to rebuild your power from underground. Simple, if a little cheesy.
The game then puts you in control of the hand underneath the ground and lets you create varying strengths of minions to mine of gold, manna and ultimately build a force that can exit the dungeon and carry out military operations above the surface. The real hook of this game is the micro management of things on the surface and underground. You can ‘turtle’ underground and get a thriving economy going before trying to hit the surface and carry out a simple objective. Here, unfortunately, is where there is a clear divide in quality.
The underground dungeon creation is excellent. You have a population cap on your minions until you level up some rooms but soon you excavate and create many rooms for all the needs of a thriving dungeon. You mine gold which then is used to create a treasury, then create a beer hall to keep the minions happy, then the choice is up to you, do you begin to research traps and defences or do you just breed orcs that you can set to patrol around the entrances in case the forces of good try to come down and steal your gold and murder the minions. There’s something very therapeutic about building your dungeon, digging through the walls and making the rooms. It really is simple and well done especially since this is on a home console. Drag the cursor across the squares of earth and you can excavate and assign rooms with the precision of a mouse and keyboard.
When enemies come into your lair there is a smattering of traps and devices you can use to deter them such as exploding treasure chests tar pits and a spinning flail that chips away at their energy. Combine a tar pit with a flail and a simple wooden door and the enemies will soon fall. They struggle in the pit and at the door while the flail does the damage. The whole point of making your dungeon self-sufficient is to allow you to carry out objectives on the overworld map. Unfortunately here is where the game falls short on complexity and quality.
The problem with the surface objectives is the lack of detail. From the description of the game, you imagine creating some factory underground capable of churning out a great war machine of orcs and other creatures. Unfortunately the population cap never really approaches 50 so the epic battles that could easily have been implemented never happen. Despite grand ideas and storytelling, surface missions rarely amount to more than commanding three or four overpowered units against around ten enemies until you reach one that is even more powerful than yours, meaning you have to use one of the limited spells to either revive your fallen orcs or transport them back to the dungeon. The surface game is just so basic that you find it more of a chore rather than a reward.
In spite of this the underground game is so satisfying you do play on. You can slap the minions when they threaten to go on strike and pick them up and drop them into the bottomless pit to ‘sack’ them and free up more space in your population queue. Hopefully, any sequel addresses the shortcomings of the surface game as the way you can switch seamlessly between dungeon, surface and other areas is technically excellent and necessary in the end game.
For now, this is one with Tropico to tide you over until Cities Skylines hits PS4.