Bullfrog’s seminal Dungeon Keeper has always been a unique take on the base-building strategy game, with a distinctly British sense of humour and fun but for some reason has rarely been imitated. Realmforge Studios’ Dungeons series is one of the only contenders and this third entry might see them reach the giddy heights of the cult favourite.
Dungeons 3 sees you as the Dungeon Lord tasked with building an underground lair and raising an army to attack those pesky do-gooders that live above ground sending heroes in an attempt to vanquish you. The typical base-building gameplay formula is in effect here, carve out rooms, place traps, try to keep your denizens happy and trained whilst protecting the “Dungeon Heart” at the... ahem… heart of your dungeon.
Their third crack at the whip sees a whole new layer of gameplay added to the mix in the form of above ground real time strategy combat, finally allowing you to be a proactive warmonger rather than a reactive evildoer. Campaign missions use this dynamic to give focus to your base designing, giving you objectives to accomplish such as destroying buildings or other MacGuffins whilst always having the protection of your “Dungeon Heart” in mind.
This feels very much like taking typical Warcraft III style scenarios and nailing them onto the traditional Dungeon Keeper formula but it really works well. Carving out rooms and managing your denizens’ needs whilst also keeping track of where your army is above ground becomes a bit of a juggling act.
The game keeps Realmforge’s uniquely tongue-in-cheek and referential humour firmly in place so far too, with obvious targets getting referenced like Warcraft, Diablo and Lord of the Rings along with some more unusual and chuckle inducing jabs at Dragonball Z, Game of Thrones and pretty much everything you can think of.
Outside of the pop-culture references, it doesn’t take itself seriously either with constant fourth wall breaking and a narrator that is a huge character in his own right. If you want a po-faced serious dungeon management/building simulator then this definitely isn’t that.
It all looks very promising, including a Skirmish mode alongside the Campaign which will also be playable in multiplayer along with the promise of procedurally generated levels that should give devious Dungeon Lords plenty of game to get stuck into.
The Dungeons series has improved steadily over time and this newest entry definitely feels like an evolution over other games in the genre. It’s blend of gameplay styles and over the top humour definitely make it worth keeping an eye on.