Published on February 7th, 2014 | by Scott Meaney0
Dungeon Keeper for iOS: Bring Money
The iOS reboot of Dungeon Keeper is finally here. Is it a faithful return to the 1997 classic or a boring retread bogged down with microtransactions?
Can it be both? This is definitely both.
Dungeon Keeper is a fun strategy game that retains all the quirky, dark humor of the original titles. It is also heavily geared toward free-to-play microtransactions. If you’re not willing to pony up some cash you are going to have a less than ideal time.
At its core, the game is basically a “tower defense” game. You play as a bad guy who owns a dungeon. As waves of enemies try to break into your dungeon you’ll set traps to fend them off. If they get past your fortifications and destroy your central hub, you lose.
The twist is that you’re basically a demon. Instead of the machine gun and rocket turrets you’d use in most tower defense games, you’ll set up spike traps, monsters and razor blade spewing walls. The trick is to lure them through your dungeon on a specific path that causes them the most bodily harm.
You also have powerful spells like bombs and fireballs that you can launch at your enemies simply by tapping on them. As for your dungeon, you’ll actually be building it yourself. One of the central gameplay components is ordering your minions to dig out new rooms and construct special structures. Giving the player something to do is actually a nice change of pace for this genre. It’s nice to have some active control over your defenses. Dungeon Keeper feels more like a game and less like the “set-it-and-forget-it” titles that already litter the app store.
The biggest selling point for Dungeon Keeper is the multiplayer element. Basically it lets you raid other players’ dungeons while trying to keep them out of yours. It’s amusing enough for a few rounds.
How does it stack up to the original?
This reboot is solidly “fine.” The biggest change is that in this newer game, you only manage a single dungeon at a time. I actually prefer this because I always found the multiple dungeon setting of the originals to be a little too hectic. (I am terrible at strategy games.)
Really, this would be a strong showing if it weren’t for the microtransactions. This is very much in the Candy Crush Saga vein of frequent “You should buy this!” badgering. The way that Dungeon Keeper tries to get in your pockets is by wasting your time. Every action in this game takes time. If you wanted to clear some rocks out of the way to make a room, it could theoretically take you anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes. That’s 2 to 10 minutes of just staring at your imps digging at rocks. Of course, if you want you can use a special “gem” item to clear the rock immediately. These are—predictably—available for real money as in-app purchases. Wonderful.
Of course, if you don’t mind dropping the cash, then you’ll probably have a great time with this title. For me, Dungeon Keeper was a decent trip down memory lane but I can’t imagine myself going back anytime soon. It isn’t the most “beggy” free-to-play game I’ve ever played, but it’s a pretty big offender.
Either way, at least Dungeon Keeper is technically free-to-try. If you’re looking for a relatively unique tower defense game, it’s certainly worth a shot. I know “Hey, why not?” isn’t the most ringing endorsement, but it’s the best one I’ve got.