During ScampLAN, I tried out DUNGEONS on a friend’s PC.
Dungeons is a strategy RPG by Kalypso Media, where you play the role of a deposed Dungeon Lord fighting his way back to power by creating fantastic dungeons and killing off heroes and explorers who come to plunder your riches.

On the first part of the tutorial, you learn how to navigate by taking your goblin minion through a few corridors, and here, I found turning was choppy and awkward.  Fortunately, I was told the game itself wasn’t so bad.. though the next part of the story had me escape my original dungeon lair, and I found it very easy to lose track of where the Lord was amongst all the details, never mind the place he was meant to go!

So.. starting off at the bottom again, you have a tiny dungeon with nothing much in it.  To enlarge the dungeon and your influence,  you need to convert or build monster pentagrams.. first killing any non-loyal monsters.  As well as gaining influence, you need a source of Soul Energy, which you gather from Heroes!  Heroes enter your dungeon in search of treasure, and build up Soul Energy as they do the things they are interested in.. gather gold, fight monsters, etc.  To get the Soul Energy, you simply attack the Heroes and imprison them, which squeezes the Energy out of them!

As I progressed through the first few levels, I found the difficulty increasing too..

Placing monster pentagrams to increase the size of the dungeon meant I kept coming close to the population cap whilst not quite expanding as far as I wanted in any direction.. and meant the monsters were spread around the edges of the map instead of tactically placed near my Dungeon Heart or treasure.  I also started to get harassed by the Zombie King, who wanted me to ‘donate’ Soul Energy to him almost as fast as I was earning it.. this left me less room to concentrate on the missions at hand and made it more frustrating than enjoyable.

In addition to increasing his influence, the Dungeon Lord needs to earn prestige by building gimmicks.. coffins, braziers and so on.  Apart from using them to entice Heroes along different routes within the Dungeon, they do give a nice bit of atmosphere.  However, at times the requirement for a set amount of prestige meant littering rooms with gimmicks and spoiling the illusion altogether.

I did like the options for levelling up the character and his skills, with three skill trees: combat, improvements or building, but felt the only way to go was improvements.. this would then allow you to leave your monsters to handle invading forces rather than trying to micro-manage everything.

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