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Dungeons 2

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4
Genre: RPG/Strategy
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Developer: Realmforge Studios
Release Date: April 24, 2015

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


PC Preview - 'Dungeons 2'

by Brian Dumlao on April 1, 2015 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Dungeons 2 aims to take inspiration from the very best titles in the dungeon management/simulation genre and blend in its own trademark dark humor to deliver the most complete dungeon experience.

Depending on who you ask, the original Dungeons was either a pretty good game that took the tycoon sub-genre down a darkly humorous path or a game that failed to grasp the fundamentals that made Dungeon Keeper a well-loved classic. Players have been waiting for someone to return the dungeon master game to prominence. Seeing an opportunity, Realmforge has decided to jump into the fray with Dungeons 2.

The base game will be familiar to those who have played EA's classic series. You control a disembodied hand that can pick up creatures and create specialized rooms for things like treasuries and breweries. However, your initial space is a little confined, and you can't break down rocks to expand your space. This is where your grunts — dubbed "snots" — come in. These faithful workers do everything from digging for open space to digging for gold, both of which come in handy for opening up space in your dungeon.

In addition to snots, you can call forth various minions from goblins to orcs and everything in between, and they each specialize in different tasks. Orcs are basic soldiers who are good for defending the dungeon. Goblins need workshops, but they can make traps to cover locations that orcs can't. Naga create mana that you can use to cast spells, though they need a factory to do so. There aren't an extensive number of units at your disposal in terms of variety, but they're all invaluable.

Dungeon management comes with tasks that may not be appealing but are necessary to ensure everything runs smoothly. For example, gold needs to be harvested so you can build rooms and creatures, but it's also needed because everyone's wages are automatically deducted from it. Beer breweries are also a necessity because they feed everyone and keep them happy. You also need to keep everyone busy, especially the orcs, since boredom leads them to harass snots, thus slowing down the production line. Though micromanagement isn't a big part of the game, it is important to maintain some order so they don't rebel.

The real fun is in using a dungeon. Though they won't always come in at a steady clip, invading heroes attempt to take the treasure and destroy the core that powers the dungeon. Snots refuse to fight, so you'll need to rely on traps and other creatures to get the job done. Likewise, opening new rooms in the dungeon can lead to more dangers, like a giant spider that is tough and sends her own beasts after you. There's a nice balance between combat, exploration and management in the dungeons, and there's enough to keep you busy for some time.

Where Dungeons 2 bucks tradition is in your ability to go outside and invade the overworld. By placing your creatures at the dungeon gate, you send them to the overworld. From there, the game takes on more traditional RTS controls and mechanics as you send your creatures to attack other enemies and destroy their buildings. You can also get into other dungeons and builds and explore, making all of the scenarios deeper than expected. In any of these places, you can switch cameras back and forth between them, and with everything happening in real time, the trick is in juggling between the environments while making sure everything goes smoothly.

The campaign does a good job of acclimating you to the dual gameplay styles, but it is in the multiplayer where the idea really breaks through. The overworld battles are rather tame since they follow simple RTS tenets, but things get interesting once you invade other people's dungeons. Unless you're able to smother the enemy with large numbers or catch an opponent who's not paying attention, the dungeon masters have a large advantage. They can construct a labyrinth to navigate and add lots of units and traps. It makes base destruction a more drawn-out affair, but that also means that base defense becomes more fun in the process.

However, things are a bit too basic in some areas. In the dungeon sections, you can't carry creatures in batches from one spot to another, so you're relegated to doing so one at a time from location to location. It proves tedious when you want to ready your army for an overworld invasion. In the overworld, you can't do things like create hotkey groups, a now-standard feature on almost all RTS titles. Unless this stuff unlocks in the full game, it can be a deal-breaker for some players.

The beta build provides a good look at the game mechanics, but the AI for your creatures in both dungeon and RTS situations can sometimes get confused. They'll either forget what task they were assigned to perform or wait until the enemy hits them before they attack the correct foe. We hope there is enough time to iron out this bug before the game releases later this month.

So far, the presentation is well done. The graphics are good, and there's a visible contrast between the underworld and overworld, both with and without the evil influences. Models are well detailed, and particle effects are good, even if they aren't abundant. The music is appropriately light medieval fare, and the effects deliver on the clarity. There are some nice details, like enemy dialogue being spatially audible depending on where the camera is in relation to characters. As an added bonus, the narrator from The Stanley Parable, Kevan Brighting, narrates the game, and his natural delivery of some funny and absurd lines adds some real humor to the proceedings.

The beta build of Dungeons 2 looks very promising. Though basic, the creation and management of a dungeon is still fun, and the hidden enemies keep the game from becoming monotonous. The switch to an RTS in the overworld adds a welcome complication to the proceedings as you try to balance RTS combat with base-building and resource management. Multiplayer may scare away those who are used to traditional RTS fare, but if you're bold enough to give it a shot, it can be exhilarating.

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