“The Dungeon Lord is back – and this time he’s serious! In Dungeons 2, fulfil the Dungeon Lord’s insatiable quest for vengeance by recruiting fearsome new monsters from all corners of the underworld in order to undertake his evil bidding. Taking over the underworld isn’t enough though – this time The Dungeon Lord will extend his dominion over the puny humans and attempt to conquer the overworld too!”
– The Dungeons 2 Steam page (http://store.steampowered.com/app/262280/)
– Creating your dungeon is great fun –
The gameplay of Dungeons 2 is split up between two things – creating and maintaining your dungeon headquarters and then facing off against your enemies in battle.
Of the two gameplay elements you’ll have most of your fun creating your dungeons. The obvious comparison would be to the fantastic Dungeon Keeper series – you’ll be carefully constructing your dungeon, having your minions gather resources, creating an army of monstrosities and then making sure you keep them happy (or alternatively slap them around a bit – you are evil after all).
I was impressed with the freedom I had to create my dungeon too. Whether I was upgrading my army or my structures, there always seemed to be something new I was able to do. It’s great fun and you’ll get hours upon hours of entertainment working underground (and believe me, the game has a ton of content to work through). With Dungeons 2 we certainly have something that fills the seventeen year old void that’s been left since Dungeon Keeper 2’s release – we all know the mobile game doesn’t count…
– There’s a well written script paired with a great job by the narrator –
Gamers who’ve previously played through The Stanley Parable may find the voice of Dungeons 2’s narrator familiar – Kevan Brighting has returned to video game narration with another fantastic performance of a well written script.
Much like The Stanley Parable, the narrator tells the story of the events as they unfold through the use of a sarcastic and often condescending tone – there’s a very British feel to the humour of the game. His performance is genuinely entertaining though and there are even slight nods to his previous role seeing as he’s constantly telling you what to do and complains if you don’t do it.
There’s nothing particularly enthralling about the story, but it’s entertaining enough that it’ll keep you interested in what’s going on. It’s full of clichés, character stereotypes and predictable moments, but there’s also plenty of comedic references to titles like ‘Lord Of The Rings’, ‘Game Of Thrones’ and even the classic dungeon simulator ‘Dungeon Keeper’ that shows that the game isn’t trying to take itself too seriously.
– The controls work well –
Whilst RTS titles haven’t always had a great track record in transitioning mouse and keyboard controls over to a controller, Dungeons 2 does a pretty good job of mapping all of its functions to the Dualshock 4 competently.
I never got into a situation where I actually struggled to do anything in-game with most of the functions easily performed with the press of a button or flick of a stick. Sure, it does take some getting used to initially, but developers Realmforge Studios have done a pretty great job overall.
– A varied and colourful visual style –
Whilst Dungeons 2 doesn’t offer incredibly detailed graphics that’ll blow you mind, its simple aesthetic style feels creative and so full of life that it’s a pleasure to explore the world around you and interact with its inhabitants.
The game does a great job of offering a distinction between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ in-game too – whilst your dungeon looks like a drab, dreary and menacing place, the ‘good guys’ have high rising castles that are both full of colour and life. Of course, it’s up to you to suck the life out these beautiful landscapes and thankfully the game does a great job of expressing that too.
There’s a really clever transition effect that shows the world around you essentially rotting away whenever your evil forces inhabit it. Trees die, the grass breaks away and the vibrant colours are taken over by rocks, lava and dull tones. Whilst I love vibrant game worlds, it’s really satisfying to see them fade away due to the evil nature of my character – we can’t always play the ‘hero’, right?!
Uninteresting RTS elements –
I’ve already complimented the dungeon building gameplay of Dungeons 2 so it’s unfortunate that the accompanying RTS battling sections aren’t of the same quality. That’s not to say they’re bad – they just feel so uninspired and won’t hold your interest for too long.
It essentially comes down to creating a huge army (which is fun whilst working in the dungeon) and then using it to wipe out your foes (which is not so fun seeing as there’s almost no thought process required besides pressing a button). Other RTS titles require tactical thinking and offer epic showdowns between armies, but Dungeons 2’s battles almost always play out the same way – the bigger army wins.
If the RTS battles were even half as good as the dungeon crafting itself it would be something, but instead it ends up feeling like the ‘boring’ part of the game – I just wish it took a bit more thought to achieve victory.
– A lack of guidance –
Dungeons 2 isn’t exactly a pick-up-and-play kind of game, requiring the player to learn a lot of the mechanics before they can really understand the game and get good at playing it. This isn’t a problem seeing as RTS titles usually take an investment of your time, but it isn’t as simple as that here – whilst the game tells you what it wants you to do, it never teaches you how you do it.
For the most part you can press a few buttons and somehow you’ll work things out, but there were so many occasions where the game would tell me to do something and I’d have to waste a ton of time simply working out what to do. It didn’t help that the UI isn’t particularly useful either – when you’re up close to a PC monitor it’s not an issue, but when you’re relaxed on a sofa and looking at a TV screen it’s a real pain when you can’t actually make out these small indicators on the UI.
Dungeons 2 feels like two completely different games – you have this excellent dungeon creator that’ll provide hours upon hours of entertainment, but you also have RTS sections that feel uninspired and offers very little to keep you engaged during what should be epic battles between good and evil.
Thankfully the game’s positives outweigh the negatives, though it still may not be enough to convince some people. It’d be hard to recommend the game to die-hard RTS fans, but if you’re looking for a bit of fun crafting your own devilish dungeons or are a fan of the classic Dungeon Keeper games then you’ll have a great time with Dungeons 2 – well, half of it anyway.
Developer: Realmforge Studios (www.realmforgestudios.com)
Publisher: Kalypso Media (www.kalypsomedia.com)
Release Date: 27/05/2016
Format(s): Playstation 4 (Reviewed), PC, Mac, Linux