You are the ultimate evil, possessor of everything bad, and you’re on the move to claim the overworld as your own.
But to get there, you must start from the bottom; the very bottom. It’s up to you to create your own dungeon and sustain a horde of evil minions that will assert your power over all domains.
That’s basically the plot to Dungeons 2’s campaign mode, and it embellishes well. You’re evil and you want to take over the world: what more could you need to know? During the campaign you must capture minions in order to grow your dungeon. From start to finish, the campaign is chock-full of humour and comedy, with each objective being read aloud like a story from the narrator, Kevan Brighting. This helps the game feel overly melodramatic – which is Dungeons 2 in a nutshell. And it knows it too.
The game is played over two maps or more, with several ports linking the maps. The main area is your dungeon (obviously) where you must dig out and build rooms to house your growing horde. The other areas act as the battlefields, where you can wage your war of terror against your foes. Like most other strategy games of its type, Dungeons 2 asks you to harvest gold in order to buy troops, designate rooms and pay upkeep on your minions. On top of that, there’s a wealth of upgrades and items to buy for your rooms. The different modes at hand, skirmish and campaign, both task you with set objectives. In skirmish mode your goal may be simply just to eliminate all sources of good on the over world, but the campaign gives you several mini objectives across a number of levels that all lead you to an ultimate goal.
Whilst giving you a fun over-the-top experience then, the campaign also serves as a tutorial, slowly teaching you the basics of each fundamental mechanic. I enjoyed this experience thoroughly, but although the reasons why you must build slowly was carefully thought out, it’s an incredibly long-winded way to teach people the fundamentals of playing the game. Despite this, Dungeon II‘s campaign is still great fun; the way the game plays out will surely be enjoyable for most RTS fans.
Without a doubt, Dungeons 2 is a shake up from the norm, combining two core gameplay mechanics in one. Within the dungeon you have a tower defence/Sim City style of gaming; constantly growing your domain whilst allocating resources and planning defence from your enemies who are trying to tear you down. On the top however, you have a traditional units-versus-units style of gameplay; real time strategy where you must plan your attack and use abilities, upgrades and magic to overwhelm your opponents. Unfortunately, neither these are as in-depth as their traditional counterparts; those craving for a deeper strategy may have to go elsewhere. Dungeons 2 focuses more on balancing the mayhem of both types gameplay. Both facets are solid, but the lack of focus on a particular style of play means that the experience sometimes feels watered-down, and slow and repetitive at points. I won’t pretend this game blew me away, but it did surprise me how addicted I became to playing it.
That said, Dungeons 2 still offers a great deal of detail and lots to play around with, particularly in upgrading your dungeon and forming your army. Perhaps you’ll want to build a brewery to keep everyone drunk, or invest in an arena in order to upgrade your troops. The minions themselves are varied enough and different units possess different strengths and skills. You will need a goblin to disable traps, a snakehead (the naga) to heal you, and of course some mighty ogres and orcs to deal some real damage.
That isn’t all though; there is another playable faction: the demons, led by the chaotic evil. A lot of things work the same, but the differences are more than just skin-deep. For example, demons don’t require beer for upkeep, and are healed in a totally different way. They have different traps to install and the way their minions work has been altered. Your workers operate the same, but unlike the horde, they have to be sacrificed in order to level the demon minions up. It may sound like it’s all too much to keep track of, but I never felt overwhelmed over the different maps and different factions. Maybe it’s because I took a balls-to-the-walls approach and just sent all my units at once, or because I just learned the hard way, but it’s more likely to be because Dungeon 2‘s controls work fairly naturally in a way that everything just syncs together.
Talking about controls, they are outstanding. Considering I played the PS4 version and Dungeons 2 has so many fiddly things going on, I never felt irritated from not being able to select a unit or perform a complicated action. It all just works so well and has been masterfully mapped to the controller. There may be a tiny ounce of confusion owing from the two worlds have slightly different controls, but it’s very easy to get the hang of it. Dungeons 2 makes it very easy for you to jump in and play.
The visuals and audio (especially the narrator) exaggerate the nature of the game. Light, pastel colours are used to represent the good, and goo-like greens and repugnant browns represent the bad. The way the scenery manipulates itself to its current surrounding is a great touch; the sickeningly pleasant forest turning to the churning pits of an oozing swamp. Kevan Brighting as the narrator is genuinely funny and I did love how frustrated he becomes telling his story if you dawdle on your quests.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Dungeons 2. It may be a bit easy for hardcore RTS fans – each level could be completed by over-preparing your dungeon before even setting foot in the overworld – but the addition of multiplayer adds a potential new challenge to test out your evil skills against another human. It may not be the deepest or most concentrated strategy game on the market, but its style, comedy and fun gameplay makes Dungeons 2 a great game.