I received an email prior to PAX Prime this year about Dungeon Overlord, what I thought was a PC title being shown there at PAX. Having grown up dreaming about Horned Reapers cutting down enemy heroes in Bullfrog’s darling dungeon simulator Dungeon Keeper and after being disappointed by Realmforge’s release of Dungeon this year, I was excited to see another developer take a stab at paying homage to a game that absolutely needs remade.
What I failed to notice in my excitement was that Dungeon Overlord…was a Facebook game.
I’ve had a reasonable time with some of my Facebook game endeavors, with such surprises as Zynga’s Empires and Allies and Firaxis’ CivWorld making the closest approximation to actual non-embarrassing video gaming through Facebook. So, needing my gold hoarding and do-gooder slaying part of me satiated, I decided to give the game a try.
Once Upon a Time in A Dungeon:
Your story is somewhat threadbare: you’re an evil overlord with the ability to create a mountain lair, and your goal is to wreak havoc across the extensive globe. There’s a minor “story” where you follow the tutorial along to get revenge on your “nemesis”, but none of it is explained very well.
There should obviously be more here, as a lot of the game has you asking yourself, “Why am I doing this again?”. I mean, there are many successful Facebook games like Farmville or Mafia Wars where the goal is to make a farm/family then complete missions to simply get bigger with no real outlined endgame other than obtaining more resources/power. Unfortunately, Dungeon Overlord lets go of the story reins so early that you often find yourself wondering why you’re still playing.
Of note, I started playing Dungeon Overlord in early August and just thrown in the towel this week, forcing myself to NOT log into Facebook to collect all my resources.
Like any good Facebook “build your own X” game, your goal is to start off with a tiny little dungeon and build into a multiple dungeon spanning kingdom. As stated, the basic tutorial will guide you through the minimum you need to get started, showing you the value of using goblins to mine for your basic building blocks of iron, crystal or good old gold or getting a library up and running to get warlocks researching better technologies. You are only allotted so many squares for your first dungeon, requiring you to reach a certain technology to give you the ability to increase the size of your lair. This basic starter dungeon will only get you so far, and you have to expand to other regions for different mining materials for more advanced rooms and upgrades.
Everything takes time, whether your goblins mining a set number of materials an hour to building/upgrading rooms to transferring materials between dungeons to raiding nearby elven settlements. Your goblins pick axe out materials from nodes in your lair and then pile them up on the floor in your mine, waiting for you to click on them before you can actually use them. There’s also a storage limit for all resources, meaning you can’t just let your game run for two weeks and come back to a pile of riches. You have to get in there, click your piles of loot so they can be used. Of course, as you get larger, this goes from starting out as a five minute dalliance to an hour long process of collecting and then allocating resources between dungeons. “Okay, I need four new bookshelves in my new “library” dungeon, but my workshop in this dungeon needs more crystal from my “mining” dungeon.” Doesn’t that sound exciting?
The main gameplay (I think) is to create a large enough army of goons to take on not only your surrounding computer settlements, but to be able to take on other players. You have offensive and defensive troops, but this entire segment of the game is glossed over in the tutorial; your general raids are sent out to “borrow” resources from the stupid elves who inhabit villages around your lair.
Let’s wrap this up on the next page!