Dungeon Keeper Review: How EA wanted me to play it

Dungeon Keeper got panned…

No, wait. That’s putting it lightly.

Dungeon Keeper got destroyed…

No, still not quite there.

Dungeon Keeper got *expletive* on when it released. Yeah, that sounds about right. Publisher EA responded to the criticisms, saying that we were playing the game wrong. How dare we decide to marathon a beloved PC classic; we should have been playing the game in short increments. Okay, that’s actually a somewhat fair observation. After all, it does mimic games such as FarmVille, which are also meant to be played in smaller increments and not over long periods of time.

I decided to do just that. Still, I ran into a problem: Dungeon Keeper is just a flat out bad game.

Is it worthy of the record-breaking low scores? No. It’s not broken mechanically or filled with bugs, though the constant reminder to use those real-currency gems are downright aggravating. It is, however, worthy of a low score, thanks to frustrating gameplay, incredibly long load times, and miscommunication.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I recently had to switch phones. My Galaxy S3 had its screen shatter, and in the process of trying to replace it myself, I broke the digitizer. When I upgraded to an S4, I decided not to re-install Dungeon Keeper. Normally, I’d be a bit upset over losing all of the process I made during the game, but here, I wasn’t in the least. Furthermore, even if my saved data could transfer over to my new phone, I just didn't care about it.

So what’s wrong with playing Dungeon Keeper the way EA wanted us to? Let us count the ways.

There’s absolutely no way to get around the fact that you either 1.) Need to spend an absurd amount of time playing the game to make worthwhile progress or 2.) Have to spend money. This is only a problem in one regard: you need gems to get more imps. The more imps you have, the more work you can do on your dungeon. Only having access to two of these imps is absolutely crippling. Being able to queue various tasks to build and then log out is nice, but I feel like I’m making absolutely zero progress until I purchase that third imp. Thinking about more imps beyond that gives me the shivers.

Wait, I lied about one thing: being able to queue various tasks to build and then log out is nice only in theory. The truth is that when I touch the notifications that say “your new building is done,” I wait nearly an eternity for the game to load.

Dungeon Keeper Review: How EA wanted me to play it

Okay, so it’s a few minutes, but still, why the heck do I have to wait so long to play a game I don’t really feel like playing? Is this the seventh circle of hell that I’ve slipped into? I have to wait a lengthy period of time to do something I don’t really feel like doing? This isn’t how it’s supposed to work, Dungeon Keeper. I can see you trying, though. Your attempts of humor are visible from Saturn, and I do enjoy the occasional raid from time to time, but I didn’t enjoy being completely dumbfounded as to why I was losing them. My resources are a precious commodity and I don’t want to waste them because things aren’t clear during a raid. I’m surprised you’re not yelling at me to spend money since you seem to do so at every other opportunity imaginable.

Here’s “combat” for you, and go ahead and stop me when you’re uninterested. You’ll spawn your minions at various points in the dungeon. The game does a poor job of telling you where you can spawn, though. I think line of sight from enemies breaks spawn points? Again, I’m not sure. So you’ll spend a few seconds trying to summon defenders while your dungeon is pillaged before you just throw them back as far away from the attackers as possible. I do have wizards that I can use to polymorph enemies, but I have absolutely no way to target them (I think). The best method seems to be mass summoning things and hoping for the best.

Just writing that paragraph put me to sleep.                

I guess I shouldn’t have expected more from a game that I have to be told how to play. Again, I completely understand where EA is coming from, but the bottom line is that when Dungeon Keeper is played in the manner it’s “supposed to be played,” it’s still not very fun. At least it’s not filled with bugs though, right?