I’m not usually fond of strategy games in general; but, as a child, I was given a dungeon-sim game and ended up spending a long time playing—and actually enjoying—it. It’s also been a while since I willingly dived into a strategy and resource management game, but I decided to have another dive into the genre with Dungeons 3.
The hesitation struck me when I first opened the game: at the menu. I saw the option to start the campaign, which was tempting. I mean, who doesn’t want to skip the tutorials and just get right into things? But, I mustered up the will to navigate through the few tutorials that the game offered. And for once, I’m glad I did. The tutorials were necessary in my case. The game adds some new features that I hadn’t experienced in similar games in the past, and this is where I learnt of them. Luckily, the tutorials were quite quick to get through, and the blow of being tutorialised was lessened with the humour in the narration and the witty writing.
The writing: what to say? I enjoyed it greatly; the humour is one of the things I love about this series of games. There is a lot of fourth-wall breaking jokes and jabs thrown by the narrator, as he grows ever-tired of prodding and pushing you to meet the objectives. It’s a nice touch in what could have been a plain strategy game—but thankfully isn’t. The narration is witty and timely and is something I can appreciate in what typically is a serious genre. I was delighted to see that I could slap my minions—just cause. There was no reason for it logically, but it gave me a chuckle.
At its core, the game is familiar. Building out your rooms, collecting resources and gold to solidify the defence of you dungeon—it very much harks back to the classic dungeon strategy games. And I really enjoyed that. Different rooms supply your minions with different types of buffs and abilities, and there is a need to keep them satiated if you want them to defend and battle for you. You need to build rookeries to keep them fed, barracks in order to allow them to rest and heal, and even breweries to satiate their thirst.
I was introduced to many new concepts within the tutorials—which meant a more hands-on approach to how the game was played. Since the more simplistic times—running a dungeon, building it out, and managing gold reserves—there has been an extension of the involvement of the player. The introduction of some mechanics, like physical controls where the “Evil” (that’s you!) has to set off placed traps when enemies infiltrate your dungeon, means a more hands on approach in battle. You can actually mouse over the trap elements, like the boulder set behind one of your dungeon walls, and time its release to cause the most amount of damage possible to the invaders. Often, you find that you can eliminate most enemies before they reach the Dungeonheart, which needs to be protected at all costs—it’s a matter of life and death: literally. The Dungeonheart sits at the centre of your dungeon and is where the health of your dungeon is situated. When enemies enter the dungeon, they make way to the centre to cause damage; your traps and minions are used to defend it. The defence of the Dungeonheart is one of the highest priorities, because if its HP depletes to 0: that’s the end of the level.
The game also introduces an overworld—it’s basically a place where you can send your army of minions to slowly take over the world and destroy it with your “evilness”. You essentially use your minions to attack points on the map to take those locations over; once you have rid each location of the “good” forces, that location begins to generate resources for you—resources used to upgrade your dungeon, unlock different dungeon rooms, and bolster your army with more units. Even though the game tutorialises you on the overworld, I learned during my playthrough that while sending all your forces to take over locations may be good for collecting more resources to build your dungeon, it left my dungeon extremely vulnerable to attackers. It took one invasion into the dungeon—and my units being quite a distance away in the overworld—for me to learn that there is no quick way to get my units back to the dungeon: they need to walk back. Needless to say, they didn’t get there in time…
With the addition of the overworld and need to send out forces in order to conquer against “good”, Dungeons 3 has a little more complexity to it. The option of co-op is there to play with friends, and there is an abundance of DLC to sink your teeth into; the game is a worthy time investment for those that enjoy strategy and management games. Because of my nostalgia for older but similar iterations, and even not being a massive fan of the genre, I can honestly say that the game was a pleasure to pick up.