An In-Depth Look at A Game of Dwarves Including Our E3 Experiences and Beyond
- By: CM Boots-Faubert
- Posted 12th Oct 2012
Each year when the new gaming season officially kicks off in late September thanks to the Electronic Entertainment Expo we have already received a bit of a head-start, having fixed our one good eye blearily upon the demo at oh-my-God-thirty in the afternoon, having learned the crucial lesson that a Long Island Ice Tea doesn't actually contain Tea and, contrary to what seemed obvious at the time, drinking four of them as an alternative to beer or cocktails in order to remain clear-headed the following day, well, yeah, that did not work out the way we thought it would. Fortunately in addition to actually being there for the demo we had a digital audio recorder running, which you know, is almost like being there when you were there but not really there... Thank God for Interns.
Gameplay in this oh-so-cute title with its properly Scottish-speaking height-challenged but muscle-bound protagonists consists of ordering the inhabitants of a dwarven settlement to dig, build, construct, and conduct research upon a variety of dwarven-interest quests in order to strengthen your Dwarven Clan while at the very same time helping them to defend themselves against the horrific beasties that naturally emerge from the depths into which your Dwarves are digging -- none too pleased to have their underworld disturbed by those wee lads!
One of the aspects of the game that we clearly remember -- and were impressed by -- is the fact that each and every new game generates a unique world each time, with levels that while they are somewhat similar each time around, are also somewhat different, which pretty much ensures that players will need to adapt their strategies and tactics dynamically during each gaming session. We should really emphasize the importance of that aspect of the game, because by using a dynamically generated level structure the brilliant wizards behind this game made it so that it was never quite the same twice in a row, an element in game design that is always good to encounter. Always.
Once your game is good and underway and your Dwarves begin to level up they will gain new skills -- which assuming that you did not drink four very large glasses of Long Island Ice Tea (buckets really) before playing (we did mention that there is no Tea in Long Island Ice Tea, right?) you will clearly (or not) remember how it feels to progress from a weak and largely ineffective Dwarfling to a powerful and nearly immortal Dwarven Warriors and Master Craftsmen who can shit Thunder and Puke Lightning... Wait... Puke Thunder and... Wait...
The point is not the sound effects or the tactical advantages of being able to bend over and electrocute your enemies, the point is that as your wee Dwarven lads level up their potential for mischief and mayhem and their ability to deliver bone-cracking and authoritative blows exponentially increases, and that is a good thing really because as you progress through the levels your enemies become a bit more challenging. You see how that all works out, right?
It cannot truly be an adventure if all there is to the game is digging holes in the ground and killing the occasional enemy from the depths of Hades, so of course there are, here and there, those bits of rare resources that once they are found (mostly deep underground) grant access to better buildings and equipment -- assuming you are keeping the faith and leveling your skills that is... The way that it works out is a sort of synergy between risk and reward -- which is how all of the really great games handle the process -- so that the deeper you dig the more dangerous the enemies are, but the better the rare and special resources are, and so on, and so on!
A Slice of Dwarven Heaven
Game developer and publisher Paradox Interactive is well known for its specialized line of Windows PC based Strategy and Simulation titles -- in fact it can fairly be said that Paradox almost single-handedly revived the PC Strategy game genre and complex Simulation Gaming with its celebrated game series' like Europa Universalis, Hearts of Iron, and Mount & Blade, as well as the Magick series, and their recently launched War of the Roses about which there is much excitement... On the Sim end of things their stand-out titles include the highly addictive Cities in Motion and Ship Simulator Extremes series', and the surprise hit Restaurant Empire go a long way towards illustrating the secret to their success. The fact that the company is now branching off into PC-based MMO titles like Salem: The Crafting MMO just goes to show you that they understand their audience very well indeed.