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Game Info:

Dungeons 3
Developed By: Realmforge Studios
Published By: Kalypso Media Digital
Released: October 13, 2017
Available On: Windows, macOS, Linux, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Genre: Real-Time Strategy (RTS)
ESRB Rating: TEEN (Blood and Gore, Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence)
Number of Players: 1 offline, 2 online
Price: $39.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you Kalypso Media Digital for sending us this game to review!

The Ultimate Evil, having been completely victorious over the forces of good on its continent, soon became bored of having nothing to do. As such, it set its evil heart on conquering another land across the sea. To accomplish this feat, the Ultimate Evil set its Sauron-esque eye upon an avatar to serve as its champion in that land and conquer all the good and pretty things within it in its name. That avatar’s name is Thalya the Dark Elf. The Ultimate Evil dispatches its shadow to Thalya’s land to corrupt her to its side and begin the conquest of all that is good within it. Thus begins Dungeons 3, a direct sequel to Dungeons 2 and another humorous and tongue-in-cheek conquest of good in the name of the Ultimate Evil.

Dungeons 3 plays like a typical real-time strategy game (RTS) with a top-down view of both the overworld and the underworld. The overworld is where all the pretty things dwell that the Ultimate Evil is bent on destroying. The underworld is where you build your lair, or dungeon, if you will. In many ways, Dungeons 3 plays very much like its predecessor, but it makes a number of improvements upon it that I enjoyed. First, Dungeons 3 allows for researching improvements to creatures and rooms to make them more efficient or powerful. This process uses both gold, mined from the underworld by your little snots and stored in your treasury, and a new resource called “evil” that is gathered over time by corrupting sources of “good” on the overworld. For every source of good you corrupt on the overworld every few seconds that source of corrupted good will grant you a few points of evil to be used in your research endeavors.

Another improvement I like over its predecessor is a change in how many units you can have. The first major difference in units is the addition of the undead to the unit roster. In Dungeons 2 you only have horde units and demons. I like the addition of the undead to the forces of evil, and their ranks contain some of the most powerful units available. Additionally, in Dungeons 2 units have a point value based on their relative strength and a certain number of unit points to allocate. So, you can have a small army of powerful creatures, a large army of wimpy creatures, or a moderate combined force of strong and weak creatures. Now you research the ability to have more creatures by spending gold and evil in progressively larger amounts until you reach the maximum number of units available (typically 20). Each unit only takes up one unit slot, no matter if said unit is a lich (top tier) or a goblin (bottom tier). So, if one were so inclined, one could build an army of 20 liches, (overkill much?) or 20 goblins (underkill?).

Dungeons 3
Highlights:

Strong Points: A story-driven real-time strategy game with clever and humorous fantasy references from other media and a witty narrator to tell the story.  It improved on some of the weaknesses of its predecessor by implementing scenario-based achievements and a stronger difficulty mode for those seeking a harder challenge.
Weak Points: Combat is not truly strategic in nature.  Rather, it’s more of a simplistic horde swarm without much strategy needed.  
Moral Warnings: This game makes you play as the "Ultimate Evil," and even if it's tongue-in-cheek you still control evil creatures and kill humans and cute animals because that’s what villains do. There are also many occult references and you control demons and undead. There is alcohol use, as the ale your minions brew keeps your horde happy. Also, it is a game about killing humans, so there is violence as well. Finally, there are some mild instances of bad language, like d*mn, G*d(dess), and arse.

The game does a good job of making sure such shenanigans aren’t really practical in a couple of ways. First, various units do various jobs throughout the dungeon. For instance, goblins and orcs operate the tinkerer shop machines which churn out doors and traps, naga work the brewery to make sure the rum isn’t gone, while imps and spiders use the arcanium to keep your mana supply filled. Banshees and liches and vampires work the crypt to revive fallen horde creatures, and also work the magic laboratory to create even nastier traps. So basically, almost every unit has a job to do when it’s not killing things that help the dungeon run smoother.

There are other units that do not take up unit slots, but are limited independently. These are little snots, zombies, skeletons, converted heroes and titans. Little snots work the dungeon, tunneling and digging out rooms. They build rooms, set out the traps, mine the gold and collect stray mana. Zombies and skeletons are made from the corpses of heroes who you either kill (zombies) or imprison (skeletons). You can research the ability to have up to two packs of 4 of both zombies and skeletons. Converted heroes are heroes that join the ranks of evil after being seduced by the succubus demon in the torture chamber. Eventually, you can recruit a titan from each of the three classes of evil creatures (horde, demons, and undead). These are gigantic units with vast reserves of hit points and destructive power. As mentioned, the titan does not take up a unit slot, but you can only have one of each class at a time (so no, you can’t recruit 20 ogres or demon lords). I really like these changes from Dungeons II in terms of creature additions and management.

Another improvement in Dungeons 3 is gameplay stability: In Dungeons 2 there were a couple of bugs I experienced with terrain not being changed properly and a mission being unfinishable. I did not encounter any buggy behavior or poor scripting in Dungeons 3 which was very encouraging. Overall, the graphics in Dungeons 3 were better than in Dungeons 2, the creatures were better sculpted with more detail and were less blocky.

In my review of Dungeons 2 I mentioned that a weakness was that the game was too easy. Well, they must have heard me because, while the normal mode of the game felt just as easy as its predecessor, they included a "Hellish" mode which can be activated per scenario if you want more of a challenge. In addition, there are three achievement goals per scenario that you can attempt to complete, which added to the difficulty because you were either "on the clock" or having to accomplish something specific and often difficult like lose no units or take no damage.

I do have a critique of Dungeons 3 in comparison to its predecessor. I felt that there was a diminishing of the strategic elements in terms of combat. Dungeons 3's AI is good, and your units automatically use their abilities as needed when off of cooldown. Despite this, I feel that this hampered my ability to strategically deploy a particular ability or make full use of my units myself. This feature cannot be disabled, so your units basically just do their own thing making combat seem much more about moving your mob into position and letting them do their thing than actually strategically commanding them. Dungeons 2 was better about this, as some units in Dungeons 2 could change from walking mode to artillery mode where they would become immobile but hurl rocks great distances, adding an element of strategy to how you wanted to use that unit. That unit is not even in Dungeons 3, but a unit that is in both is the goblin and in Dungeons 2 making use of the goblin’s stealth abilities was the key to some missions and useful for drawing out enemies into an ambush or killing or weakening a powerful hero prior to engaging the rest of your units. In Dungeons 3, the goblin’s stealth ability is a passive ability that simply makes it get attacked after all your other creatures are killed off. If it goes in solo, it will be targeted and summarily killed.

Dungeons 3
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 90%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 59%
Violence - 6.5/10
Language - 7/10
Sexual Content - 7/10
Occult/Supernatural - 2/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7/10

The story in Dungeons 3 is just as amusing as it was in Dungeons 2, with many humorous Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and other fantasy literature/film references throughout. The avatar of the Ultimate Evil, Thalya the Dark Elf, has a recurring Gollum/Smeagol-like self-dialogue that is quite humorous. The main antagonist of the story, the Paladin Tanos, while supposedly good, is really a self-righteous egotist who you don’t feel too badly about defeating in the end. All his underling antagonists are also “bad” to some degree. His dwarven friend Grimli is a raging racist, and Yaina Overproud is, well, you get the idea. So despite the fact that you control the forces of evil, the game goes out of its way to show that even “good” people are bad (or at least these particular "good" people are really evil also). (Minor Spoiler Alert) For instance, at one point in the game an antagonist resorts to destroying his own city and all the people in it in order to kill Thalya. An antagonist also tries to torture the evil out of Thalya for an entire mission, in an extreme example of irony. I found this to be a very Christian-affirming concept. At its core, Christianity is about being saved from our evil inclinations, which we all have. Even the "best good person" is fatally flawed and needs to be saved. Just like there are no "good" guys in Dungeons 3, there are no "good" guys in the world we live in either (see Romans 3).

On the moral score, Dungeons 3 scored lower than its predecessor for the following reasons: The succubus demon is now wearing significantly less clothing than in Dungeons 2 and actively tortures captured heroes in a torture chamber which looks a lot like a dominatrix’s dream come true complete with padded rose-colored floors, and devices of pain-inflicting restraint. Use of the torture chamber by a succubus demon is how captured Hero units are converted to your side. Thalya’s outfit, while not revealing, is still provocative in nature. While you no longer have to sacrifice units at a pentagram in order to recruit demons, pentagrams are still seen in structures and architecture and you can still sacrifice units at the undead temple to receive a reward from the Ultimate Evil if it deems the sacrifice worthy enough. Also, I noticed more instances of bad language in Dungeons 3 than I did in Dungeons 2. Another reason for the moral score being reduced is violence, which is kind of a given in a strategic combat game involving killing things. Also, alcohol use is depicted without any negative side-effects. Apparently, the horde creatures cannot get drunk. (Minor Spoiler Alert) There is a mission where you must continue to serve the Ogre (the horde titan unit) copious amounts of alcohol for it to complete the mission.

Overall, I enjoyed Dungeons 3 more than I enjoyed Dungeons 2. It was humorous with an entertaining story and a pithy narrator. Once again, I loved all the references to other fantasy literature. I also felt that the subtext of “good” guys being “bad” guys who aren’t really even “good” at all a very Christian world-view affirming concept. While Christians are supposed to desire to do good, our goodness doesn't come from ourselves or even from the things we do or abstain from doing. Despite these accolades, the game does have a fair amount of morally questionable things, especially the succubus and torture chamber, alcohol use, language and violence. If you like real-time strategy games that are light on strategy and heavy on story, I'm sure you'll like Dungeons 3.

-OrionStar1979

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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