Guest Author - James Shea
A spiritual successor to the Dungeon Keeper series, "Dungeons" gives a good attempt but misses out on a lot of the things that made DK great.
Like Dungeon Keeper, Dungeons is a game about, well, building a dungeon. In DK, the goal was to set up an ecosystem by keeping monsters happy, harvesting gold, and killing heroes who intruded on your underground lair. "Dungeons" takes a different approach: the goal is to make the heroes happy, thus raising their "soul energy", and then killing them when they're happiest. Therefore, while DK focused on building different rooms to accommodate your monsters, "Dungeons" has rooms to attract heroes based on their differing needs.
There are three major resources in Dungeons. The first of these is "prestige", which is gained by placing atmospheric items, such as flickering torches, dusty coffins, and piles of bones, around your dungeon. Building up prestige unlocks new items and objects. The second resource is "souls", which is gained by killing happy heroes and is used to build prestige items. The third resource is gold, which is used to buy things like monsters and room accessories, but can also be set out as a lure for heroes (though it's best to kill them before they escape the dungeon with it).
One thing that bothers me about Dungeons is that the setup leaves little room for creativity. Unlike Dungeon Keeper, where rooms served a direct purpose, the purpose of rooms in Dungeons is to lure in heroes - warriors will try to steal things from armories, wizards will peruse libraries, and...that's about it. There's no sense that you're actually building a working dungeon, it's just a dungeon-themed park. Monsters show up as guards or speed-bumps for the heroes, but their involvement in gameplay is limited to plopping down a spawn point. There's no sense of actual management, which makes it tactically limited.
Most of the "choices" the game offers have to do with a new addition to the game - your avatar. This is an armored, Sauron-like fellow who the player upgrades with better stats and spells. The majority of upgrades apply to him - carrying out sub-objectives grants him better stats and more spells, and not much else. This character receives far more focus than he ought to, especially given how limited the actual dungeon-building is. He feels totally unnecessary - all the upgrades that go to him should instead go to the dungeon, which is far too limited as it is.
The game looks and sounds reasonably nice, but it's just impossible to get into it. It feels like a waste - they made all these nice graphics and designs, and then threw them into really awful gameplay. The dynamic is so simple that it's ridiculously easy to run out of things to do, so the game just builds up more and more in terms of levels without adding anything of substance. Overall, I wanted to like Dungeons, but it just wasn't going to happen. Fans of Dungeon Keeper should understand that there's really nothing that the games have in common except for the fact that they both take place in dungeons. 5/10.
Purchased on Steam with our own funds.