Tag Archives: Dungeons 3

Greg’s GOTY 2017

No one sets out to make a bad game, yet it happens anyway. Things go wrong during development, the scope out weights the team’s efforts, the fun is lost somewhere down the line, or a myriad of other issues that leads to the result of a bad game.

The honest truth of the matter is: it’s all too easy for a bad game to be made. There’s too much stacked against them, the hype from elements perceived as intriguing by consumers and journalists, the financial commitment to develop something that meets modern standards of visuals and features. I don’t think we truly appreciate just how hard it is to make a good game.

What about great games, then? What measure of developer does it take to build these? I think the groups of people that manage to deliver an experience that you cherish are remarkable developers indeed, and their success should be vigorously celebrated. With that, then, I’d like to tell you about my personal top three games of 2017.

3rd –  Yooka-Laylee

The N64 and original PlayStation consoles saw the birth of 3D platformers, and it didn’t take long for some true classics to hit those system. 2017 saw a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie release in the form of Yooka-Laylee, a love letter to the early 3D platformers with a focus on cute and quirky characters, collectathon gameplay, comical boss fights and themed worlds.

It’s a marvellous, nostalgic trip with enough collectables to keep you busy for dozens of hours, and indeed it’s that quest, that obsession to collect everything on offer, that drives the experience, further enhanced with achievements and trophies. And despite a combative camera and the occasional section of poor or obscure level design, it kept me entertained for weeks while I conquered every stage and searched every nook and cranny for shiny trinkets.

2nd –  Resident Evil 7

Over two decades after the original Resident Evil title, Resident Evil 7 comes along and drastically changes the series’ style. The third person perspective gives way to first person, zombies and genetically modified monstrosities give way to a crazed family and organic clumps of mould, and the comically campy storytelling gives way to a tense atmosphere and serious character motivation.

The puzzles hark back to the original, and the primary location strikes a nostalgic tone with its intricate design, but now the horror is more real and frightening than ever before. The visuals are so splendidly detailed and grotesque you can almost sense the damp, the blood, the sweat and the adrenaline. Stick a VR headset on and the immersion becomes that much more engrossing.

This was a completely new take on the Resident Evil formula, making bold new strides in horror and storytelling while keeping enough familiar elements to appease long-term fans. This was a special title for me, drawing me in enough to command multiple playthroughs and scaring me enough to wear me out at the end of every play session. And with smartly designed DLC side stories to draw me back in, it became a title that stuck with me throughout the year, one that I enjoyed and indeed still enjoy immensely.

GOTY 2017 – : Dungeons 3

As the release of Dungeons 3 approached I suddenly became intrigued. I’ve been after a title that approaches the greatness of Dungeon Keeper for many years, and had been left wanting. Dungeons 3 looked like it might get the formula right, that perhaps it had learned from its previous titles, as well as from similar dungeon management titles, and made the jump to something as enjoyable as the original Dungeon Keeper from the early 90s and yet featured precisely the modern refinements we all expect. Indeed, Dungeons 3 meets that hope.

Fourth wall breaking humour galore, dungeon building that’s smart and expansive thanks to a well implemented upgrade tree, and that special something to place it apart from Bullfrog’s original dungeon management marvel: RTS style gameplay in the overworld.

Indeed, Dungeons 3 nails the dungeon building and the humorous atmosphere, and while its performance is a little patchy on console it’s still hugely entertaining, with enough content to keep you engaged for countless hours, and a challenge in not only building an efficient dungeon for your creatures and to decimate any invading heroes, but also to then lead your army of creatures in combat in the world above. It’s excellent and I couldn’t stop playing it until every single achievement was mine.

I think of the aforementioned titles as great examples of the year’s best games and then I recognise that there were so many more that I haven’t had the chance to play yet, such as Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Horizon Zero Dawn, Cuphead and Super Mario Odyssey, and I’m reminded: don’t think that a small group of dedicated and thoughtful people can’t make an impact in this industry, because it’s the only thing that ever has.

Dungeons 3 review

For those of us who gamed in the 90s, Bullfrog’s Dungeon Keeper is a title that is fondly remembered. The concept of building an intricate dungeon consisting of multiple rooms that cater to and therefore attract different creatures to live within it, all the while laying traps for heroes who ventured in, was a wonderfully compelling take on the management genre. Over the years some developers have tried to revive the dungeon building sub-genre but haven’t quite struck gold. Realmforge Studios, with their third dungeon building title, just did.

Indeed, Dungeons 3 takes many of the key features of Dungeon Keeper and injects enough fresh ideas. It’s a game that taps into the same compelling dungeon building and management as Bullfrog’s much loved title, while introducing a gripping new story and some RTS elements to set it apart. Add to that precisely the kind of modern day visuals you’d expect and we have a title posed to impress.

Dungeons 3 carries on the story from the previous two titles in the series, recapping you at the very beginning of the lengthy campaign. Its light-hearted, funny story full of fourth wall breaking moments and pop culture references. It can be a bit hit and miss as to whether the jokes land with you, but for the most part they’re witty and genre appropriate to satisfy the intended audience, with nods towards things like Supernatural, Buffy, Warcraft and Lord of the Rings but to name a few. The story pits you, the Ultimate Evil, against a nation of good citizens, their leaders and heroes, with you possessing and corrupting one of their own to lead your invasion. This results in some excellent, comedic moments between the corrupted dark elf Thalya and her paladin father figure.

Dungeons 3 is split between two levels: the underworld and the overworld. In the underworld you build you dungeon, mining veins of mana and gold, building rooms to house your creatures and meet their needs, and recruiting creatures. In the overworld you can control your creatures to invade the region, destroying settlements to prevent so many heroes invading your dungeon, and securing special points of interest to generate evil points, which can then be used to further upgrade your dungeon and creatures. The upgrade web allows you to spend gold and evil points to unlock new rooms, new creatures, and enhance what you already own, including increasing the amount of creatures you can have at any one time. It’s a complex system made palatable by its gradual introduction throughout the campaign.

Managing it all between these two levels is an enjoyable challenge. Initially there’s a lot of digging for your so called ‘little snots’ to do, building rooms, mining veins and exploring in the dark, but soon you’ll have no choice but to send some creatures top side to secure evil points or it’ll all come to a halt. Balancing your invasion of the overworld and expansion in the underworld against invading heroes means planning your creature’s movements and preparing your dungeon, it can really keep you on your toes, especially in the later campaign missions, and despite this ultimately being a repetitive set of tasks that change very little each mission, it rarely feels like it due to how much fun it is.

The campaign balances the difficulty brilliantly and dishes out new features at a nice pace. You’re never overwhelmed with new things to figure out and mastering the basics comes naturally as you re-build your dungeon, manage the upgrade web, and fight heroes each mission. In fact the repetition helps to reinforce good tactics and building strategies. It all feels very intuitive.

Unfortunately, there are a few issues that can ruin the fun a bit. The occasional bug when using menus can result in those menus not popping up. Meanwhile, path finding is often terrible, especially in the overworld with large groups of creatures. Finally, the framerate takes a pretty big hit when dealing with a lot of creatures and heroes at once. However, these issues are only minor nuisances to an otherwise excellent game.

With its 20 mission campaign, and with each mission taking 30 minutes to an hour to complete on average, there’s a huge amount of playtime here. And with skirmish and multiplayer options to satisfy your dungeon building needs even further, there’s plenty here to keep you occupied once the story has wrapped. The technical issues are a blemish but ones that can be easily forgiven thanks to how much fun it is and how delightful it is to play a dungeon management game that takes the best of Dungeon Keeper and injects some fresh ideas into the mix.

Thanks to Xbox and Kalypso Media for supporting TiX