A Game of Dwarves Review (PC)
Right now as I write this I have a vast plethora of dwarves excavating out their new home, kept happy by glorious ale trees and tables stacked to the heavens with food. No unfortunately this is not real life it’s me playing the recently released “A Game of Dwarves”!
“A Game of Dwarves” is a Simulation/Strategy/Fantasy game by “Zeal Game Studio” and it has two separate modes of play, one being the regular campaign and the other is custom. The basis of the gameplay for both of them is to get to certain objectives by mining through large amounts of floors with your dwarves. This makes it sound overly simple however; you’ll have to keep you’re dwarves fed, happy and full of energy while doing so. Many a time have I accidently left a dwarf to starve in an inescapable pit. This is largely where the “Simulation” section of the game comes into play you do this by creating things like furniture, decorations and crops. Furniture like beds and chairs will be used to restore the dwarves energy by giving them a place to sleep while decorations will be used to…well give you’re dwarves something more pleasing to stare at than a dark mine shaft all day and thus raises overall happiness. The crops will be used to feed your dwarves. Another hazard are the enemies waiting in rooms you burrow into (God knows why theirs singular rooms down that deep!). To name a few, there are spiders, gnomes, goblins, orcs and a good few more they also range in difficulty depending on their level!
The main objectives usually aren’t anything too special, mostly just finding a room and then clearing it of enemies, however there are also side missions in each level that give you’re clan extra influence when completed. Influence is used to get clan perks like starting with extra resources and such. This is entirely separate from the in-game research tree and is permanent throughout the campaign. The actual research tree has around 20 or so options and resets every level.
The differences between the Campaign and Custom are the usual suspects; one has a story and a tutorial the other puts you right into the action and lets you have free reign of your dwarves quicker and gives you some level options to tweak. At this point I should also state that there is more than one unit type in the game (just like most strategy games.) There are workers, crafters, warriors, diggers and scholars and I’m pretty sure you can tell what each does by the name! A few of these can be upgraded to more advanced unit types, however they all gain levels and experience whilst doing their jobs. The campaign is a bit too slow paced for my liking, taking a bit too long for the difficulty to ramp up and the levels don’t really require that much strategy for a strategy game. The tutorial is very in-depth though.
The story isn’t too gripping, just you’re average “boy sets out to prove himself story”, except the boy in this case is a prince who must prove that he can run a clan of dwarves to his father (The King) and to prove himself he must take back the dwarves lands from the dreadful magi and various other baddies. They do try to add a little humour into the game through various jokes, and it is pretty hit and miss but still adds to the experience.
I really like the User Interface in this game it’s easy to use and it doesn’t clutter the screen, but the most important part of it is that it doesn’t require you to micro-manage all of your units. You can basically set as many tasks as you want and any available dwarfs of the right type will go and do those tasks. However, you can’t direct any of your dwarves. They just roam around doing their own thing between the tasks you set. You have a teleporter to pick up a few units at a time and place them anywhere you’ve discovered within the map as a form of control over them.
Overall I feel the game is enjoyable but I don’t feel it’s as enjoyable as it could be. The game doesn’t really give you any sense of challenge. It’s mostly just a case of how long it’ll take to mine through x amount of blocks between you and you’re goal and the simulation side of thing’s seems more of a way to extend the amount of time between you and you’re achievement of those goals rather than anything that effects the game in any meaningful way. However, if you really enjoy games that give you a lot of freedom to create small civilizations of your own with a decent amount of build options then this is the game for you!
6 dwarf delving greedily and deeply out of 10