Dungeons: The Dark Lord in the test - Calypso strikes back!

Author: Kevin Stich
Date: 2011-09-22 16:00:00
With Dungeons The Dark Lord, the original real-time strategy game from developer Realmforge is entering its second round. This time with more success?

"Master, master, the heroes are coming!" This saying applies to the classic Dungeon Keeper as well as to Dungeons: The Dark Lord . The gameplay of the Stand Alone Addon for Dungeons is completely different. Instead of bludgeoning wandering heroes straight into the afterlife, we lure them into our well-prepared dungeon to make them happy first - and then to blow them away, some things never change.

In the dungeon on a ring tour

Dungeons: The Dark Lord is a winking parody of the Lord of the Rings saga and sends the player on a journey to destroy the “other ring”. It was created by our alter ego from dungeons, the taciturn Dungeon Lord. In the sequel, we consequently slip into the role of Calypso, the archenemy of the ringsmith. In addition, the Minotaur Minos and the Zombie King join. In the solo campaign lasting between ten and twelve hours, we control up to three jailers at once, all of whom have been set to music very well by professional speakers.

Entertaining and torturing

The game mechanics are the same as with the predecessor: With our goblins we drive tunnels into the rock, collect gold and build rooms. There are still three of them. Armories and libraries serve as entertainment facilities for heroes. Magicians like books and paladins like fancy swords. Adventurers, on the other hand, prefer to rummage in bulging treasure chests that we also distribute underground. At the core of our realm is the dungeon heart; if it is destroyed, the game is lost.

Some heroes prefer to wrestle with monsters to satisfy their need for pain. The creatures required for this materialize automatically on once-placed pentagrams. During the heroic fun, the warriors continuously fill themselves with soul energy. Once you have reached the maximum value, walk towards the exit with a happy grin on your lips. At least now we knock down the prevented heroes with one of our guards and put them in the dungeon, optionally equipped with instruments of torture.

Now the soul energy gradually sucked out of the heroes ticks into our account and can be spent on prestige gimmicks (campfires, gruesome skeletons) and new spells (e.g. poison breath). We have recently also been placing special items in rooms. If we equip libraries with musty closets, for example, heroes can generate more soul energy there. With increasing prestige, our jailers receive additional bonuses on their attributes, which increases their fighting power. In addition, we only unlock certain items for the rooms with a correspondingly high prestige.

Monotonous gameplay

The concept of having fun with heroes sounds quite exciting on paper, but in practice it becomes increasingly monotonous as the game progresses. Every new dungeon is created according to scheme F, tactical depth is lacking due to a lack of options. In any case, it is much more important than a tactical approach to complete the campaign missions as quickly as possible. This is due to the half-baked balance. Over time, the heroes level up and become stronger.

We go along by improving our creatures with soul energy and increasing the attributes of the jailers at face value. The problem with this is that the heroes become too overpowering at a certain point in time (roughly when they reach level 14).

Our jailers are now too weak and regularly die trying to kill heroes. This gives us valuable soul energy and gold. We need exactly these two resources to increase the fighting power of monsters and overseers. A vicious circle. The solution: solve one task after the other as quickly as possible. Anyone who does this will only have weak heroes and thus an easy game. The Dark Lords then plays too easily again. A dilemma.

Hectic jailer

In the previous dungeons, we complained about the tight time limits. The developer Realmforge has deleted. A good decision. This takes the pressure off the missions and prevents frustration. When managing the extensive vaults, there are often hectic tracking shots, followed by hectic clicks. A grinning hero wants to steal away there, another pounds the dungeon heart and a champion frees incarcerated comrades from captivity. Our jailers are responsible for all of this and only rush from crisis to crisis ..

There is a lack of automation that would make our life easier and at least relieve us of some of the small parts. The trio's AI is also annoying, as it requires laborious readjustment. The Dark Lord shares the hectic pace just mentioned with the first dungeons. In some aspects, however, significant improvements were made.

We didn't notice any bugs worth mentioning and the tutorial, which lasts over an hour, takes a lot of time to teach the players the basics of dungeon life. There is also a new graphic set that adorns the tunnels with ice crystals and further enriches the already very coherent presentation. The only drawback: some caves are very dark, a little more light would not have hurt. The multiplayer part is new, in which we compete against up to three opponents in four modes.

The Dark Lord eliminates some of the quirks of the predecessor, such as the tough time limits, and thus climbs the scoring ladder a bit upwards. On the other hand, nothing changes in the fundamental weaknesses of the game mechanics and the lack of tactical possibilities. The result: after a while, playful monotony sets in. The balance has also failed and forces us to scurry through the missions as quickly as possible. This is a great shame, as the basic game idea of having fun with heroes is quite original. In the current version, The Dark Lord only works for players who are a little capable of suffering and who appreciate the humorous pace.