The Ultimate Evil: An Early Look at Dungeons 2

We checked out a pre-release version of Realmforge's dungeon sim, Dungeons 2.

Dungeons 2 is an upcoming RPG dungeon simulator developed by Realmforge Studios and published by Kalypso Media, where you'll find yourself playing the Prime Evil—or his Hand of Terror, at least. We put on our best-looking sinister hat and went hands-on with a pre-release version of the game.

The first order of business in Dungeons 2 is a quick tutorial mission where you play as the invincible Prime Evil. The game has a top-down view, with WASD panning the map, which has a fog of war for you to uncover. Using click-to-move (RMB for basic attack) you'll plow through those pesky heroes, who have the nerve to be happy on the overworld.

Unfortunately, these heroes don't appreciate being completely slaughtered, and once you have the basics down you'll find yourself returned to the underworld. How they managed to get the best of the Prime Evil is unknown, but you're left only being able to control things through his Hand of Terror.

Once you hit the first full campaign mission, anyone that has played Dungeon Keeper 2 will be struck by some of the similarities. The game occasionally jokes at itself about this, with the narrator dropping comments about the dungeon being "full of yogurt" and chicken coops. We haven't seen any dance sessions to Disco Inferno yet, but one can hope, right?

Some core play of the game is very much in-line with DK2. Elements such as grunt workers mining gold and taking it to the treasury, needing to excavate the underworld to open up more room for your dungeon, having to keep the central room of your dungeon protected, smacking your units around to "encourage" them, your greedy creatures having a payday and the controlling hand itself. Once you get further along the first mission, you begin to get a feel for the differences between the two games.

Aside from the few you start with, your creatures must be purchased in the throne room for gold. Available creatures for purchase are your grunts (Little Snots), Orcs, Goblins and Naga; Trolls were also shown on the UI, but were not available in our preview. Occasionally your Little Snots will uncover units as they dig through the underworld that will decide to join you, though there is a population limit to the dungeon. In addition, the mission you're currently on may assign special units to you, which the narrator will rib you about if you let them die... especially if you mess up and they die a lot.

The narrator peppers mission-related comments and jokes throughout the campaign. Sometimes these are intended to be friendly reminders of what you're supposed to be doing—though if you prefer to take your time and not rush through missions, the reminders can get a bit annoying after a while. The jokes are mostly a good mix, and while some seem to repeat themselves more than others, it's a nice break to get some humor while playing the part of evil.

While reigning in your dungeon, you'll need a constant supply of gold to not only buy units, but also to keep your creatures happy on payday (they'll go on strike if they get too unhappy). In the pre-release version, payday feels like it happens too frequently (every three minutes), so hopefully that will get a bit of a tweak prior to launch. Send your Little Snots to dig from rich gold veins (these deplete quickly) or poor gold veins (these last longer, but with lesser return), and keep that treasury stocked up.

Another use of gold comes in the form of purchasing rooms, as well as researching within them. A brewery should be your first order of business; upgrade it with a brew kettle (or three) and put your Little Snots to work making some kegs to keep your creatures happy. The goblins use the Tinkerer's Cave to research traps and rooms, and to create toolboxes used to set the traps. Your naga are magically inclined and have a specialty room to aid with the research of spells and production of mana. The more walls and doors surrounding your room, the more efficient they will be at production.

As for your orcs... aside from being your early fighting unit, they're just general bullies. They'll wander the dungeon, sometimes reinforcing walls, other times getting bored and smacking around your Little Grunts. Have your goblins research a guard room to keep them from being too idle and enhance the defense of your dungeon against those pesky invading heroes. While you're at it, make sure you have a hospital as well—heroes sometimes pack a punch, and the hospital allows your creatures to regenerate if they're felled within your dungeon.

To help with the defense of your dungeon, make sure to set up traps and doors to slow down those heroes. I enjoyed using tar pits and whirling spike balls of doom, though on occasions it did feel like my Little Snots were having to spend too much time repairing the traps from wear and tear. As long as you're not completely blocking a dungeon entrance, you can also fill back in dirt, which—if setup well—gives you the opportunity to funnel those suckers down a corridor of death.

It's not all doom and gloom though... there's also plenty of flowers and sunshine in that overworld to destroy. Grab your naga and orcs to invade and destroy the happiness of those living above your realm. Unless you have a gobobot, we recommend leaving your regular goblins behind; they're very squishy and you'll waste money replacing them. Use medals (they look like books) found in both the underworld and overworld to boost your creatures, though each creature can only apply one medal at a time.

Dungeons 2 does a great job at giving a respectful nod to the Dungeon Keeper franchise while making a statement of its own. While we were only able to play the first handful of missions in the preview, the grand scheme of the Prime Evil was an enjoyable experience to embark on. The pre-release game still needed some tweaks, polish and full localization, but it still has over a month to get that fine-tuning in.

The game will be available on Steam worldwide on April 24, 2014. If you prefer picking up the PC retail box instead, it will be available in the EU on the 24th and the NA on the 28th.

The new Demon faction reveal trailer can be seen below; it looks like it may have another DK2 nod with Dark Mistress-like demons and torturing. Make sure you tune in for the Kalypso livestream walkthrough of Dungeons 2 at 9am PT/Noon ET on Thursday, March 19th!

Ann "Cyliena" Hosler, Managing Editor


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