Are you sick of self-righteous good guys who always steal the show, and beat the bad guy? Well, Dungeons 2 gives the player the chance to fight back in a very interesting way!
Dungeons 2 is the sequel to Dungeons (but you may have figured that out already), released back in 2011. Possibly inspired by Dungeon Keeper, a game released under the control of Peter Molyneux, Dungeons received fair reviews, earning pretty average scores across the board. However, is this an upgrade to the original?
The game begins with a romp through the kingdom as a suit of eeeeevil armour, known as the ultimate evil. Don’t get too fooled by the WASD controls here, after this level, you’ll be doing management with your mouse for the majority. Throughout this, you are led by a sultry voice that you may recognise from The Stanley Parable. However, just as you are getting your pernicious hatred to the castle, you are banished to the underworld, and all is well.
Or so you think, because before long you are inexplicably brought back to life, in a spirit form. You promptly merge yourself with an almighty throne, and come under control of a giant hand, who becomes a fancy mouse curser with all the powers you need! And so begins the main part of the game. Management. And there is a lot of managing to do. In order to get revenge on the do-gooders that exiled you to this underground area, you’ll have to build up a dungeon, prepare the troops and workers that you need, and work them to their little bones.
At first, the game is relatively linear. There are set objectives to do, but you can go at your own pace and build up the basics you need to build, whether the narrator tells you to or not. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself without a vital hospital or workshop later in the game. As the levels progress however, you find yourself with more and more to do.
It’s at this point we should mention that dungeon managing is a main source of stress, and can turn your hair grey very quickly, please take caution. If you find yourself even a second of rest; taking a break and not doing anything; you’re doing it wrong. The goblins are raring to do some research, you need to lay more traps down, your orc army is being attacked by defenders of the good, Another orc has grown bored and is beating up one of your workers, you have to mine more gold so you can pay your troops, and your throne is really uncomfortable.
In other words, there’s never a dull moment, and you don’t get a break; but that’s a good thing. Nothing is more laborious than sitting at a game, waiting for your gold reserves to increase just enough for you to buy another orc. While you’re waiting, you can get the goblins to start researching new things, or send some workers (workers in this game are called little snots, and they are adorable) to mine out the caves and explore, or just use your giant hand to punch any slacking minions.
The game is in real-time strategy, further emphasising the necessity for you to stop mucking around and work, but tragically, the game suffers from not giving your dungeon enough to defend against. Occasionally, you’ll get a group of do-gooders enter your dungeon from the over world, in a vain, fruitless attempt to dethrone the ultimate evil. However, they rarely come in groups bigger than 5, which can be halved by a well-placed trap, and then finished off by a couple of irritable orcs. We’d love it if it got increasingly difficult, to the point of dreading each incoming invasion and adding to the urgency. However with the amount of pressure that the alliance puts on your dungeon, they may as well be giving free massages with the lack of danger they pose.
The game itself is a bit fiddly. There is a lot of clicking and micromanaging to do, and unless you’re a robot, built in a laboratory and designed specifically to press the mouse; or alternatively a StarCraft player, you’ll take a long time to fully master the system. Just make sure your mouse can handle it. And once you’ve done that, make sure your PC can handle it. Massive armies can be a real bane on your performance, turning the epic battles into PowerPoint Presentations. With the game’s release, more detailed graphics options will come, and we advise you be frugal, lest you suffer the wrath of turning your legion into a jerky, stuttering mess.
Not only do you have to click rapidly, but also with the pinpoint accuracy of a trained sniper. Often times come when you want to control a certain unit in a horde. Maybe to initiate a flanking tactic, or to have them retreat and heal up. Unfortunately, in the mess of flailing minion limbs, it’s difficult to select the required attacker, and in turn, difficult to master those elite manoeuvres you’ve been strategizing for oh-so very long indeed.
The game offers up a multiplayer mode, however other players are rare during the review stage. This reviewer however, is very excited for the mode, presuming it plays in a similar fashion to the regular game.
One of our favourite things about this game though, is the narration. Credit goes to the writers of the narrator’s lines, and to Kevan Brighting, who shines once again as he did back in The Stanley Parable. Talking to you from an unknown realm with his constantly judging, but enviably British accent, the narrator is not seen on screen, and we don’t know who he is, or why he’s seemingly sworn to be the eternal advisor to the ultimate evil.
One thing is for sure though; this game will take every opportunity it can to demolish the fourth wall like an old and dilapidated industrial district that the council want to replace with a lovely little housing estate. Your workers wave at you through the screen, the references are endless and beautiful, ranging from an attack that does ‘1337’ damage, to a nod to one of the best Simpsons episodes of all time. At one point, the narrator even indulges you in a satirical advertisement, asking you to buy all the company’s other games.
To summarise, we feel that this game has blown Dungeons out of the water, improving dramatically on it. It’s by no means perfect, forcing you to drag the graphics bars into the negatives, making it difficult to strategize by forcing you to click on your legion and hope you get the minion you want, and bombarding you with fourth wall breaking gags (they’re very funny, but there’s a line in the sand, and this game is teetering.) However, it provides a lot of fun. There’s never a dull moment, levels are unique and enjoyable, and it’s very satisfying to watch your dungeon, functioning like clockwork. At £35, we’ll admit it’s a bit expensive, but we can’t deny one other thing: it’s bloody fun.
DUNGEONS 2 / DEVELOPER: REALMFORGE STUDIOS / PUBLISHER: KALYPSO MEDIA DIGITAL / PLATFORM: PC (STEAM) / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW