If you are the kind of person that enjoys ordering people around and loves to torture people then you will love Dungeons: The Dark Lord. Although I hope the latter is not true as it could get you in trouble. When I first heard about this game by Kalypso Media, I became very excited. I, like many others, love the old series of Dungeon Keeper games, and this game looked to offer all their great features and more. And it certainly doesn’t disappoint. This game is full of evil fun and also, as a great surprise, actually pretty funny too. I did not play the first game in this series, Dungeons, however, you can quickly gain a grasp on what is happened.
In Dungeons: The Dark Lord, Point-Man of the first game has decided to be so evil he’s going to unify the underworld by remaking it as a single realm under his own control. As a symbol of that power, he had destroyed his Crystal Throne and, after a few faltering attempts, created a ring which was promptly stolen by his peg-legged cheeky counterpart, Sidekick. Sidekick promptly delivers this to his one-time girlfriend, Calypso, so that they can find a way to destroy it. Calyspso, is a full-time enemy of The Dark Lord, and in no way wants him to gain control of all the dungeons and create a single realm. This is where our story begins and we start our new quest with Calypso seeking out some allies and thus founding her Fellowship of the Other Ring. Yes, the story in this game seems to closely follow the first Lord of the Rings chapter, and had many funny references and scenes that remind you of it.
The start of the game finds your character Calypso, stuck in a jail cell, and she quickly tricks a guard to enable her to escape and proceed to build her army of followers. This opening chapter of the game also serves as your tutorial, which is spread over a few levels to explain how the game works. There are two main goals for any dungeon: rase your prestige, and thus your power, and collect soul energy to use on improvements for your own cozy little underworld. This is all done by paying close attention to the various heroes whom have entered your dungeons looking to fulfill there desires, these heroes appear at set intervals from various entrances within your dungeon.
As the heroes enter, you must see what they want. Some like gold, some like to defeat the various monsters and minions that are available for a good thumping, and some like to see new features like a nice statue or a pretty mirror. These all help fulfill the heroes wishes, thus giving you much more prestige. You must build libraries, traps for thieves to disarm, and monsters of varying strengths to help satisfy there needs. Then, just as they are happy and start to leave the dungeon you much defeat them and place them in jail to drain there soul energy. The more successful you are at this, the better things you can build, leading up to a huge dungeon with lots of cool stuff. I particularly enjoyed the torcher devices within the jail that you can build. Although I am slightly worried about my sanity as I enjoyed it a bit too much.
Dungeons: The Dark Lord quickly brings out your evil side, and it’s not long before you’re desperate to kill and drain all the Heroes souls from them, Mwahahaha. Oops, there I go again. The main thing you have to worry about is the dungeon heart. This is what gives you the power to control the dungeon area, and must be defended to stay in control. Every now and again, you are faced with a Champion that enters your dungeon with only one thing on their mind: destroying your dungeon heart. You have to make sure you defeat this guy as a main priority or you will loose the dungeon and need to start all over again. It is pretty hard to explain the way it all works without showing you, as there is a lot to learn, but hopefully you’re getting an idea by now.
The graphics in Dungeons are average. They look detailed and are very colourful, however, you don’t look for really fancy graphics in this kind of game, so I don’t consider this a deal breaker. The controls within the game use your mouse to move around, adjust the camera angle and select things. The keyboard is used as well if you wish to select potions and abilities quickly, although, to be honest, I pretty much only used the keyboard to switch my view to a top down camera angle every now and again. I found I needed to do this often, as there is so much happening on screen sometimes it was hard to see from the standard third-person point of view the game has.
The sound effects within the game are all pretty good. I loved the sound of the torture devices working away. Geez, there I go again. The dialogue is funny and has so many jokes. I do like the way the story is build into the game. Unlike many games of this type, you are not just faced with level by level, you need to walk between them. Sometimes you walk for about 10 minutes looking for a new dungeon area to build. Along the way you fight various monsters that are not your allies and look for your next suitable dungeon location with a new beating heart to build it around. This really builds more of a actual story and adds to the game. In so many of these games, you just feel like its a new dungeon to defeat and can become very repetitive. Here you really want to win as you can’t wait to hear the next part of the story.
Dungeons does include a multiplayer option where you compete against other players dungeons, and from my dabblings in it, I have to say, I quite enjoyed. The standard of play appears to be pretty high, but I successfully managed to defeat one person in a game. However, my victory laugh was short lived as I soon found myself being beaten to a pulp again.
So to round things off before I bore you all, this game is really good fun. Don’t get put off by the initial feeling of, “Wow, this is complicated, so many things going on at once.” After an hour or so you will be enjoying it. It is a fantastic game, however, if you are wanting a ‘Dungeon Keeper; clone then look elsewhere. This game is far more in-depth, but has taken a few good points from the series. Dungeons’ developers have done very well here, and I look forward to any future games they release. I recommend you go try the demo that is available for download first, to see if you want to shell out for it. Right that’s me off to torture some more heroes mwahahaha, burp!!
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - /10
Graphics - /10
Sound - /10
Replay Value - /10