"Too Far Underground"
A Game of Dwarves. Clinging to the stereotypes of dwarves, the primary objective of the game is to live underground and expand your territory to the farthest reaches you can manage. Standing between you and the many treasures you seek are obstacles, but mainly monsters and dirt. It's mostly dirt.
The story woven into A Game of Dwarves is the driving point for the campaign, and it does lend credence to the reason you're engaged in the game at all. You're the prince of a dwindling dwarven civilization, and your father has sent you out into the world to curb your laziness and expand the borders of the dwarven empire. Of course, there is an antagonistic force in the mages who supposedly pushed back the dwarves and left them with the small amount of territory you currently posses.
Because you spend the vast majority of the game underground, logic dictates that you'll spend most of your time with A Game of Dwarves traversing that space and pushing the boundries of what you control. The means for moving outside of the preestablished boundries is digging your way deeper into the myriad of underground tunnels laid out before you. The digging mechanic was almost saved by the fact that you can speed up the flow of the game; however, it's the same in-game feature which makes the digging confusing and a chore, rendering the game a labryrinth of confusion to play.
A Game of Dwarves is played in 3D. While that may not sound out of the ordinary, it really is when you realize that most of your objectives are underneath the playing area. In a 2D game managment game, having everything on one level field is not only expected; it makes everything intuitive and easy to manage. When playing A Game of Dwarves, I sometimes found myself overwhelmed by managing my characters and their needs, the enemies that would pop up when I dug into a new area, and I also had to manage this across multiple floors. It's like micromanaging workers across multiple floors of an office building; it's inefficient.
In addition to having to micromanage across multiple underground tiers, you also have to ensure that your budding civilization is well supplied with food and a place to rest. You can request dwarflings which can then be upgraded into any of the working class dwarves in order to further your civilization. Of course, there is a cap on how many you can have at once so prioritizing is key. I often found myself with more diggers than anything so I could expedite the time between finding something and digging for something to find.
Fortunately, there is a sense of progression in A Game of Dwarves. Spaces become larger and enemies become tougher, but it never requires a more complex strategy than the earlier levels, which is a shame because an ornate combat system would have greatly benefitted the experience. Speaking of experience, your dwarves can level up and become more effective at their jobs. However, everything is reset upon starting a new level, so it's a hollow sense of accomplishment when you have a solider that shots enemies or a digger who can really move the dirt, because all that will be gone once you complete the stage.
The graphics and sounds in A Game of Dwarves are... an interesting choice. There is no part of me that doesn't appreciate a cartoon-themed game, because gritty realism all starts to blend together after a while. However, there just seems to be something a little off with the art direction in A Game of Dwarves. The massive, bulbous eyes were particularly offsetting for me, and I found myself unconsciously comparing the stylistic choices to other popular depictions of dwarves. While there is music at the intro screen, I didn't notice much more of it once I got into the game. The gameplay becomes rather bland, and I suppose it makes sense that the music does as well.
In short, A Game of Dwarves isn't the most enjoyable experience I've had with a strategy game. I almost wish I could say that it was too hard for me, but that isn't the case. I also wish I could say I wasn't a fan of the genre at all, but I am, and I know a good strategy game when I see one. A Game of Dwarves ultimately falls short of being considered one of those good games.
GameDynamo's Score for A Game of Dwarves (PC)
|Joey Blackwell II
Avid gamer who's more passionate about writing. Hopes to be a renowned writing voice in the world someday, while still being addicted to games.
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