Guest Author - James Shea
A fantasy management simulator based on the independent game "Dwarf Fortress", "A Game Of Dwarves" is Paradox's attempt to pretty up the basic concept of running a Dwarven settlement.
The Dwarves in this game are the classic fantasy archetype - short, bearded, live underground, enjoy drinking alcohol. The player, as their leader, is tasked with digging out homes for them and securing food and valuable resources. It's a three-dimensional game due to its underground setting - dwarves will dig up and down, left and right, and forward and backward as assigned. This can be somewhat confusing to the average player, as the game's 3d graphics make it a bit awkward to tell what you're looking at.
The game's basic concept is to accumulate resources by ordering dwarves to dig, farm, harvest, and so on. These resources are used to keep your dwarves happy. Food is fairly direct, but building materials like stone and wood are used to build furniture for the dwarves. The game is mission-based, so in addition to maintaining your dwarves' happiness you must also delve into the earth, combat enemies, and obtain treasure. The game doesn't exactly handle that well, but most of the tasks in it are relatively automated, so it's not that bad.
The graphics are kind of lackluster. While it's easy to forgive games with low budgets for focusing on ideas rather than polish, the game itself isn't really that great and the visuals are bland rather than charming or quaint. While it's kind of neat to build little dwarf halls, complete with engraved walls and stone floors, it's just not solid enough from an atmospheric perspective to be enjoyable in that way. Audio-wise, there's no voices outside of cutscenes and the music is forgettable.
As a whole the game is so basic that it might be best-suited for mostly younger children to play - the graphics are cartoonish and the gameplay is relatively unthreatening, but there's not a lot of depth to it. In that regard, "A Game of Dwarves" might be worth picking up - especially for the low price of $10. However, for adult players, that same lack of complexity may prove to be a major turnoff.
We purchased this game with our own funds in order to do this review.