Fancy ordering around a bunch of short fellows?
Dwarves. Along with Elves, they have made an appearance in most fantasy worlds. However, unlike Elves who seem to alternate between being tall and aloof to small and mischievous, Dwarves are pretty much always the same – short, stumpy miners with a passion for alcohol and gold. I can live with that. But what I can’t live with are the most famous Dwarves of modern times, the Disney Dwarves. Why? Because they sing. As I sit and prepare myself to venture into Paradox Interactive’s “A Game of Dwarves”, I find myself chanting through gritted teeth “Please don’t sing”, “Please don’t sing”…
Whilst initial impressions of the title may suggest that the game is trying to cash in on the current popularity of “A Game of Thrones”, it should be noted that the title is also a very apt description of the game. It is, after all, a game of Dwarves.
The player takes on the role of a Dwarven Prince charged with creating and maintaining a massive subterranean kingdom in a style that goes back to the likes of Bullfrog’s classic Dungeon Keeper. The player must expand their underground home whilst making sure they keep their Dwarven minions happy and healthy. As is often the case, threats to the Kingdom will have to be dealt with. But for the more laid back player who is quite happy to be creative, there is a mode that removes the threats and allows players to focus more on the management side of things.
Beginning with just a few Dwarves under your belt, so to speak, the player assigns them roles that will dictate exactly what they can offer to the Kingdom. Through repetition of their actions, or some research, these Dwarves will gradually become better at what they do and, as such, reap more rewards. Growing your clan will involve the introduction of younger Dwarves who can, through watching and learning, be prepared to take on one of the roles.
And what of these roles that you can assign your Dwarven minions? There are five in total and each is easily defined. The Digger is perhaps the most important to begin with. These little guys like nothing more than to excavate the surrounding ground to expand your world, finding all manner of building materials such as stone and silver, allowing the creation of new rooms or areas for growing food, and getting to the mysterious hidden rooms marked by clusters of question marks. These rooms can hold vast treasures, required objectives and, more often than not, monsters. Thank the heavens for soldiers.
Soldiers are the second role and essential if you don’t want your fledgling Kingdom to be completely trashed. These guys can patrol the halls and, after a bit of practice, become quite the formidable force. However, alone they may not be enough to defend your world. You could also do with some impressive traps.
Which is one place where the Scholar comes in. Once the Scholar has access to the research table, the player has access to a research tree that will allow, amongst other things, the research of traps. They are also able to use their scholarly skills to improve efficiency amongst other things, which is always handy.
The final two roles are the worker and crafter. The worker is basically responsible for gathering the food, which goes towards keeping all of the Dwarves healthy. The Crafter has a similar role. Besides being able to create decorative items, which become more and more impressive as they gain experience, the Crafter is also responsible for making beds in which the Dwarves can sleep.
If the player manages to keep their minions well fed, well rested and in pleasant surroundings, they will work harder and better. That makes sense doesn’t it? Visually, the game is looking good with a massive dose of cuteness, which will appeal to the widest range of gamers. There is only so much you can do with underground caverns, but the developers Zeal Game Studios have gotten the most from what they have to work with.
There is quite a lot of content to be had here and fans of management games will find themselves scrambling about in the dark for many hours. A Game of Dwarves is due for release on October 23rd and will be well worth a download if you have an affinity for enclosed spaces or beards.