We Are The Dwarves is a third person action game, wherein you take control of three dwarves with different abilities, switching between them in order to reach the end goal of the level. It’s a lot like Blizzard’s The Lost Vikings, just in three-dimensions. But this time, instead of the dwarves being taken aboard an alien spacecraft, they’re already in space.
On launching the game, I was immediately met with confusion. Moving the analog stick up and down to navigate the menu did nothing and I had initially thought the game had crashed. It wasn’t until I started with the D-Pad that it became apparent this wasn’t the case. Okay, so not a huge issue to start, but it certainly didn’t fill me with hope for the game to come. Sadly, the odd choices for control schemes didn’t stop at the main menu...
For some inexplicable reason, you can press the “back” button on the controller to access a traditional pause like menu, whereas pressing “start” toggles your sensors, a feature that lets you see the enemies health and their range of vision. But, there’s also an additional pause feature on the left trigger, which pauses the game and allows you to survey the landscape to prepare your tactics for any upcoming battles you're about to face. This wouldn’t be much of an issue, if it wasn’t for the fact that you have to hold down the left trigger and move the right analog stick in order to spin the camera around, meaning as you go to quickly spin the camera you can end up pausing the game. That said, being able to move the camera at all is something I only learned after having dive into the controls menu in game.
It was whilst I was in the control screen, that I also learned you have a standard attack that isn’t tied to any of your abilities as up to this point in the game, I’d been trying to wrangle my way through the enemies with careful planning of attacks. There are also sections in the game known as “Anomaly Zones”, which place you into a state of floating in space, with your only control mechanism being to shoot in the opposite direction to which you want to travel. These are a frustrating experience in aiming and hoping you’ve got it right, since there’s no easy way to line up your shots... at least that I could work out.
Throughout the levels, you will discover points that allow you to repair or upgrade your character, as well as save your current game, though I couldn’t work out if these points for saving were negated by the fact that there’s a “Quick Save” item in the pause menu. Saving the game is something you’re going to want to do as often as possible as well, since there’s an annoying tendency to fall foul of an instant-death or two throughout.
It’s also clear that the developers of We Are The Dwarves don’t have a native english tongue, with some slightly off dialogue and some of the UI texts being a little “hazy” to understand, though, for a small developer like Whale Rock Games, this can be excused to an extent as hiring a translator is likely to be classed as too costly.
But, for all of the game’s shortcomings (not the dwarves...), there is, underneath it all, an interesting and developed storyline, characters with depth and interesting abilities for tactical play with a detailed and graphically rich world to explore. The artwork is of a consistent high quality throughout and the sound design features a musical score that’s fitting to the scenes along with some deliciously atmospheric sound effects. There’s a section early on in the game where a monster keeps popping out of various holes in the walls, roaring each time it does so. This caught me off-guard a couple of times leaving me slightly startled at the time.
For a first outing from a smaller development team, this has some promise. If Whale Rock Games can build on what they’ve got here, we could be in with some fantastic outings later down the line.
We Are The Dwarves (Reviewed on Xbox One)
Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.
A nice little real time tactical game that takes cues from The Lost Vikings and brings it up to date, let down by a frustrating control scheme and some odd choices that have made their way to the final game.