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Game Info:

Dungeons II
Developed By: Realmforge Studios GmbH
Published By: Kalypso Media Group GmbH
Released: April 24th, 2015
Available on: PC
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1 Offline, 4 Online
Price: $40 New, $30 Used
(Amazon Affiliate Link)

Thank you Kalypso Media Group for sending us this game to review!

There is a land of sunshine, cute animals and happy smiling humans.  In this land is joy, and love, and adorable things.  But below the surface, there are none of those things.  Below the surface of this good land lurks something despicable, something that hates all the gooey, cutesy things on the surface with an unquenchable rancor.  That something is called "The Ultimate Evil."  That something is you.

Dungeons II is a creative blending of its early progenitor: Dungeon Keeper, and a typical RTS like Warcraft III.  Unlike both of those games, the story is driven by a British-sounding narrator who tells you the story as you progress throughout the game.  He is also responsible for telling you what you should be doing.  Are you taking too long to complete the first objective?  He will be sure to remind you, in amusing terms, that you're lollygagging.  Did you experience failure?  He will explain your failure to you with a back-handed insult.  The narrator drives the story forward with a stream of amusing and often fantasy literature/movie/game references which greatly amused me personally, but may be above the heads of those who aren't "in the know."

Dungeons 2
Highlights:

Strong Points: Gives an enjoyable and unique spin to a typical Real-Time Strategy game and injects loads of humorous fantasy literature, film, and game references.
Weak Points: It felt a little too easy. It also fell victim to the typical campaign-driven RTS issue of implementing the highest-tier units so close to the end of the game that they saw very little use.
Moral Warnings: This game makes you play as "the Ultimate Evil," and even if it's tongue-in-cheek you still control evil creatures and kill humans and cute animals for sport.  There are also many occult references, as you control demons and sacrifice your minions at a pentagram in order to transform your demons to a more powerful form.  There is alcohol use, as the ale your minions brew keeps your horde happy.  Also, it is a game about killing humans, so there is violence as well.

In general, the game play is very polished.  When your forces are all in your dungeon in the underworld, the game plays almost identically to its spiritual predecessor Dungeon Keeper, complete with a giant hand which you use to pick up your creatures to carry around the dungeon, as well as slap them into working faster.  You don't want your little snots and minions slacking off after all.  Once you bring your horde to the surface world, the gameplay seamlessly switches to a more traditional RTS experience.  Gone is the hand of Evil.  Instead you drag-select a group, right-click to move or attack, and control your creatures just like you would do in Warcraft III or Starcraft.

For the most part, the game was very bug-free.  I experienced one major bug on one of the maps, but it did auto-correct itself after a reload.  I think it was a scripting error since the terrain didn't allow me to put my creatures where they needed to be to complete the quest objective.  In the overworld, once your evil forces have routed all the humans and cute things in the world above, your presence corrupts the landscape, changing it in the twinkling of an eye from pretty and bright, to gloomy and blighted.  I think that the game didn't trigger that change for me, so the area I needed to move my creatures to was blocked by the still-pretty landscape.   Before the reload I spent quite a while roaming about trying to figure out what I'd done wrong so I could advance the quest. After quitting and reloading, the game automatically placed my creatures in the exact spot where I couldn't get them to go before.  So aside from that small hiccup, the game ran smoothly.

As seems to be typical of story-driven RTS games, Dungeons II falls prey to a problem common to the genre.  That problem is advancement.  In general, RTS games like Warcraft III and Starcraft will deliberately gimp the player's ability to improve their units and facilities until a certain mission.  Usually, this mission is near the final 1/3rd of the game's story arc.  After this mission, the remainder of the campaign allows you unfettered improvement.  This lets you use the best units available, upgrade them, build an army, and learn how best to crush your opposition.

Dungeons II felt like I only got to experience the full use of my creatures and dungeons for two scenarios, out of ten or twelve.  This is far past the last 1/3rd, more like the last 1/5th or 1/6th.  In that sense, I felt the game should have either been extended to allow more missions with unlimited access to my creatures, or should have accelerated the advancement to allow for more time with my really good creatures.

Dungeons 2
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 92%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 69%
Violence - 6.5/10
Language - 8.5/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 2/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7.5/10

That said, there was much that I enjoyed about this game.  The flavor in the game was a large part of my personal enjoyment of it.  The amusing fantasy references made the game appear to not take itself too seriously, adding a very tongue-in-cheek feel to the game and making the fact that you're the "Ultimate Evil" seem almost comical instead of malevolent.  I enjoyed the dual game mechanics in switching between the Dungeon Keeper experience and the traditional RTS experience.

Morally, there is much to be warned about.  This game does have you controlling the forces of evil, including demons.  There are spells that you can cast to kill intruders.  You brew rooms full of barrels of ale for your creature's consumption.  To upgrade your demons you must sacrifice a minion at a pentagram altar.  (Though, somewhat amusingly, a sarlac monster from Star Wars ep. 6 appears under the altar to consume the sacrificial victim).  And obviously in any RTS there is a fair amount of violence and the killing of humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, fairies, unicorns, and the like.  The blood effects are very subtle.

Overall, I genuinely enjoyed the game, perhaps in large part because I recognized a good majority of the other fantasy references which added a ton of humorous flavor to my experience of the game.  I enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek humor of the game as well, and the game did offer a fair amount of entertainment as a combination of two of my favorite older RTS games.  On a negative note, the game features controversial occult references and requires the use of pentagrams in order to advance and improve some of your creatures.  The one bug I encountered was also a minor annoyance, but it was certainly not game-breaking or systemic.

 

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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