Thank you GamersGate for sending us this game to review!
In A Game of Dwarves, you play as the dwarven prince who has been cast out of his father's castle unexpectedly. The king grumbled something about him needing to get off of his "fluffy bottom" as he threw him out. In order to regain the king's respect, the prince must prove himself worthy of the throne. To do that, he must reclaim the land and technologies that the dwarves have lost from the evil mages in the Great War.
It’s not just the mages that you’ll have to worry about. There are other enemies roaming the land both above and underground. You’ll encounter gnomes, orcs, goblins, rats, wolves, and other vile creatures. While many of the creatures are pushovers, the higher level enemies pack a good punch. Make sure you have plenty of warriors in your clan.
Before you start your adventure, I highly recommend going through the tutorials to familiarize yourself with acquiring resources, job classes, and the digging process. At first it’s exciting to dig around and explore new areas, but after digging your 500th block, it gets boring quickly. Add on top of that undiggable blocks, and the game gets rather irritating. To make matters even worse, the interface sometimes flakes out when you’re twenty plus levels deep into the ground. I’ve often had to exit out and go back into the game to get the digging commands to work properly again.
It’s a shame that the game’s slogan “Can you dig it?” is its biggest downfall. However, there are several things that A Game of Dwarves does right. I love the humor in this game, and if you have the patience to beat the game, the ending sequence will probably give you a good chuckle. It may not be worth thirty hours of your time, but it made the game end on a high note for me.
The class systems are well thought out with the workers tending to the food, the crafters building all of the needed beds, traps, chests, and furniture, the warriors defending your cave, while the researchers unlock new technologies. Each unit gains experience for doing his job which makes him more efficient at what he does. Even dwarflings who are not yet assigned a job can accumulate experience that will transfer over to their future line of work.
It’s a shame that all of your hard work gets reset when you begin the next quest. Fortunately, you get to keep the influence/experience you gained and power up the prince with it. You can give him battle skills or start each level with some research points or free upgrades.
To earn experience, you must complete the objectives of the current level, and you can get even more influence if you finish the optional king’s objectives. If you take too long to make progress on the objectives, your dwarves will start to become unhappy. To make them happy again you can either make progress or add items to your living quarters to cheer them up like Ale trees.
Besides alcohol references, there is some violence, but it’s not bloody or gory. Since your enemies are mages, it should come as no surprise that there is magic use in this game. My last complaint is that the intro movie shows an orc with his back turned and his butt cheeks are showing.
In the game itself, the characters are not incredibly detailed and the same models are used repeatedly for each class type. The storyline cut scenes are well done in both the audio and visual departments. While the background music is catchy, I found the prince’s generic babble annoying at times.
The AI is decent when it comes to path finding, but you have to do a lot of babysitting for your miners and build ladders for them so they can reach the blocks and not get trapped and starve to death. I like the teleport ability and have used it on numerous occasions to save multiple dwarves’ lives. The building interface works for the most part, but getting the objects to face the proper direction often takes multiple tries.
Sadly it seems that faults outweigh the positive aspects of the game. While there is some good humor and fun to be had, there are a lot of aggravating moments as well. Perhaps they will release some patches along with the DLC they're trying to nickel and dime you with. While the asking price of $9.99 is fair, I'd wait for a sale before picking this game up.