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March 2018

Dungeons III

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: RPG/Strategy
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Developer: Realmforge Studios
Release Date: Oct. 17, 2017


PC Review - 'Dungeons III'

by Cody Medellin on March 6, 2018 @ 12:30 a.m. PST

In Dungeons 3, the Dungeon Lord has successfully united the forces of evil and established the roots of his dark empire, leading him to the next step in his diabolical quest: expansion!

Buy Dungeons III

Dungeons II took the series in a new direction that made it stand out among other strategy offerings. Instead of being all about dungeon management, the game let you wreak havoc on the world with real-time strategy mechanics. Even though it wasn't perfect, the mix of genres worked well. Dungeons III follows up on the formula, and even though it hasn't improved much, the game still provides players with a good time.

According to the plot, some time has passed since the events of the second game. Players take on the role of the Absolute Evil, which has succeeded in uniting the evil factions and ridding the world of good. He soon discovers that there is a new continent that's untouched by evil, and he wants to fix that issue. Unfortunately, his attempts to send his forces via boat have ended in failure, causing him to seek an alternate means of conquering the lands. Enter Thalya, a dark elf who has been trying to suppress her evil urges by working for the side of good. The Absolute Evil's shadow possesses her, and she quickly returns to her old ways and seeks to rule the new continent in your name.

The story is fine, but the game is driven by its humor, and all of it comes through in the dialogue. References to other games and media constantly mix in with a fourth-wall-breaking narrator, and Thalya constantly argues with herself about whether she should embrace the evil side or continue the struggle of being good. Your mileage will vary on this, though, since the game throws out this stuff at almost every opportunity, whether it's a cutscene or some incidental dialogue. There's also a range in joke quality, so be prepared to wade through some groan-worthy ones before finding a gem.

As in the previous game, you're playing with two different play styles. You're treated to the classic Dungeon Keeper formula when you're in the underworld, so you have your snots dig where you want them to, and they find gold deposits along the way or make space for you to build new rooms. The rooms can house things like treasuries, turkey farms, and barracks. You can also create labs to make traps for unsuspecting guests, and you can even fill in uncovered places to create winding paths and your dungeon heart, which is the source of your power.

For the most part, the dungeon maintenance segment is pretty simple. Unless you uncover spider pits or have outsiders invading, combat is rare and otherwise maintenance-free since everyone fights for you and does a good job. Research is only a few clicks away, so upgrades are quick if you have the necessary currency. While having to maintain a gold and food supply for your minions seems daunting, the amount isn't so severe that it takes a lot of work. the only difficult part is fighting the urge to pick up minions with your disembodied hand and toss them around or slap them.

Once you send a few of minions or your hero to the dungeon entrance, they'll automatically go to the overworld, where the game takes on real-time strategy properties. Unit selection and movement is basic, and attacking is mostly automatic. Like the dungeon management aspects, the strategy portions are easy to comprehend since you don't have to worry about too many advanced mechanics. Early on, the units are easy to manage, but the unit variety expands later on, since you control all of the races that you had united in the previous title. There's not much when it comes to worrying about unit match-ups, so you'll be fine against any foe as long as you diversify. There are no flags you can rally units toward, and there aren't many special moves to unleash, so players with a rudimentary knowledge of RTS games will fit in just fine.

If you're a genre veteran, the simplicity will get to you. Aside from not being able to go deep with either the dungeon management or strategy mechanics, you'll find that the enemy is easy to defeat. As long as you have more than snots in your dungeon, you won't have to worry about racing back to the dungeon interface since the invaders are usually weak, your minions formidable, and the dungeon heart heals itself over time. In the overworld, enemies can be more of a pain unless you overwhelm them with numbers. You'll never find a situation where the enemies heal themselves or call for reinforcements. You'll also never see them move beyond their assigned sector; if you retreat, they'll stop once you go beyond their radius.

At the same time, the lack of difficulty is fine for those who are starting out with the dungeon management or real-time strategy genre. Having to juggle between two different play styles can be challenging for some, especially in later missions where you can't simply destroy the overworld and call it a day. The campaign can be quite lengthy, mostly due to the individual missions taking a long time to complete. For those wanting more, the game gives players free rein over skirmishes, so you can create new scenarios to challenge yourself. As an aside, the game features controller support since it's also available for consoles. The control scheme works fine when you consider how many actions can be taken, but the option is more of a curiosity since the trusty keyboard/mouse combo feels more comfortable.

Beyond the skirmishes and campaign, there's multiplayer. The good news is that the multiplayer option exists just about everywhere, as you can play against others in skirmish mode, you can even play cooperatively in skirmish mode or the campaign. The bad news is that you'll never get to experience any of this, as no one is playing the game online.

The presentation is quite nice, even on mid-range hardware where most options can be maxed out. Despite being all about evil, the game uses a ton of bright colors, and the particle effects look nice. The environments are good, as are the small character designs, which are well animated. The sound is also good, especially the voice work that accentuates the joke delivery.

Dungeons III is a good hybrid of real-time strategy and dungeon management. The quests are fun, the simple mechanics are tight, and the humor is nice, even if it can be grating at times. Its lack of difficulty will turn off anyone looking for a challenge, and the lack of a community means that those who like playing with others will find nothing here. The whole experience is worth it if you like what's on display here.

Score: 7.5/10

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