A Game of Dwarves – Review
Follow Genre: Dungeon management
Developer: Zeal game studio
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Platform: PC

A Game of Dwarves – Review

Site Score
Good: Really addicting fun gameplay
Bad: At times hard to control camera at times
User Score
(0 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

Here we are again with another indie PC game review, and this time the lucky game is Zeal’s A Game of Dwarves. It’s a dungeon explorer and management game in which you lead a brave (some of the time at least) band of dwarves and their prince on a quest filled with glory, treasure and digging, lots and lots of digging. So, time to get out our pickaxes and lanterns, and venture into the deep dark caves and mines of A Game of Dwarves to see what it’s all about and more importantly, if it’s any good! 



A Game of Dwarves is the story of a clan of dwarves called the Dragonhammer clan, and their quest to retake their stolen land and glory. In the world of a game of dwarves, the dwarves were once the greatest race to walk the earth (or underneath it at least). They ruled over every land led by their great leader the King Father, and had an empire that had no equal. One day however, a new race appeared called the mages. The mages soon started attacking dwarven settlements and it didn’t take long for a great war to break out, one that would not end well for the dwarves. With the help of their allies, the dragons and the elves, the dwarves did their best to fight the mages. Soon however the elves turned their backs on the dwarves (which proves again you should never trust an elf, sneaky pointy eared backstabbers!) fleeing across the sea and despite their enormous power, the great dragons were beaten one by one by the magic of the mages. Soon the dwarves were forced back to their homeland of Hemland where they still reside today, in their great fortress built so that no force would ever be able to break it’s walls. Sounds like your basic fantasy story right? Well, it sorta is. But the way the game sets it up and introduces it to you is pretty funny and well done, and it genuinely made me laugh when I watched it.

A Game of Dwarves picks up a couple years after the great war, with the King Father starting to feel his age, and realizing that his only remaining heir is a spoilt brat who sits on his ass all day, not caring for glory or conquest or treasure, like a dwarf should. So he decides to send his son the prince off into the wild with a part of his clan, to start his own kingdom and reclaim the lost lands and treasure of the dwarves from the mages. The campaign retells you the story of the war, mostly through dialogue with the King Father, and sometimes from other people or through tablets you find during missions. Some nice twists are introduced throughout the game, and the writing can be downright clever and funny at times, offering a nice break from what sometimes becomes mindless digging for the next room, treasure or quest item.  If nothing else it’s a decent way of giving you a reason for digging through dungeon after dungeon searching for treasure.



So what does the world that accompanies this fantasy story look like? The short version: pretty good! Maybe somewhat atypical for this type of fantasy story, Zeal decided to continue the funny and humorous style of their writing in it’s graphic design, by giving the game a very cartoony look. Your dwarves are your typical red haired, bearded, bear loving, big nosed dwarves we’ve seen so often. On the enemy side we have your typical tiny and skinny green goblins, your big stompy orcs (some of whom wear blood bowl style football armor), and your typical robed and hooded mages . Now don’t go taking that as being a bad thing, because it’s not. Sometimes it’s better to take something done before but fitting then to create something completely new, that turns out to be completely unfitting and bad. The designers chose this style they did because it just works so well to the point where I think that going with another style would have probably hurt the game.

The animations are pretty well done with one small exception, namely moving on ladders.More then once I had my game glitch because more than one character was trying to use a ladder and having characters get stuck because they were clipping into each other. On the technical side of the graphics the game looks fine. It’s not going to win an award for best looking graphics but hey, not every game can be the best looking game ever made and not every game needs to be. The game looks fine and offers the standard range of graphics options, high, medium or low quality textures, a wide range of resolutions and things like v-sync. So all things considered, a solid looking game.



The sound department then, here I ran into a few little issues that didn’t make A Game of Dwarves into a bad sounding game, but they did   annoy me a little, or felt like little missed opportunities. First of all there’s the music, the game’s music is pretty good. It fits the game, isn’t intrusive and creates a good atmosphere over all. The problem with it: there’s not enough of it. As much as I loved the music, after my 20 hours with the game I got a bit tired of hearing the same track over and over again and wish there was just more to the game’s soundtrack. I know it’s impossible for a game you’re going to put this many hours into to make just as much music to accompany every hour of it but a little more variety would have been nice.

Next there’s the characters. Like I said in the story section, a lot of the story is told by dialogue. Sadly this is written dialogue and not voiced. That’s not my problem however, I know voice acting takes a lot of time and money and I get that small indie games like this sometimes just don’t have the money to pay for a fully voice acted game. What did bother me however was that every time there was dialogue the characters have small soundclips of them saying a couple words which just felt very annoying  and unnecessary to me. The game does a good enough job at drawing attention to the dialogue without having to play these soundclips and I would preferred them not being there. Lastly there’s the sound effects which are fine, all actions have a distinct sound which help you keep track of what’s going on, from the sound of your diggers picking away at the rocks to the little ping of getting another research point.



Now we get to the big finale, the part where I get to tell you how the game plays and more importantly , whether I had fun while playing it. Let me get that last one out of the way by saying that I put around 20 hours into the game so far, and I’ll be surprised if I don’t put at least the same amount or double that into it in the near future. I had my frustration moments which I’ll tell you all about in a minute but the game just got its addictive hooks into me and in the end I had a blast playing it.

Ok now that that’s done let’s move on to the gameplay. The game has two game modes namely the campaign mode and custom game mode, both of which play pretty much the same. The only big difference is that in the campaign you take on a number of pre-built missions where as in the custom game mode the game creates a randomly generated dungeons based on the settings you choose. I’ll start with the custom since that’s gonna be the shorter part. Like I said in custom game the game creates a dungeon based on the setting you choose and those setting are: choosing the size of your map, whether or not you want enemies, how many resources you want there to be in the dungeon, how many events you want there to be and if you want the techs you unlocked in the campaign. I’m probably still forgetting some but you get the picture.

The gameplay seems pretty basic at first.You have no direct control over any units apart from being able to teleport dwarves around.There are five classes of dwarves you can make and each for the largest part does their job on their own. There are a digger dwarves who does, as the name implies, all the digging you wish. You tell them to dig by selecting the dig command and you select the blocks you want dug out. If the digger dwarves can reach them, they’ll start digging their little arms off like there’s no tomorrow. Next there are the crafter dwarves, who are responsible for building all the objects apart from certain ones who don’t need to be built like floor, walls or stairs, those just spawn instantly when you build them. You build objects by going into the build menu, selecting the right category ranging from decorative items, to beds, to training dummies and research tables, and then if you have the resources for it click on a free spot in the world. you’ll need items to do research, make tables for your dwarves to eat at, beds for them to sleep in, chests and cabinets for you to store resources in and much much more. On top of the standard items that come with the game you can buy even more of them, there are 3 DLC packs, a few free seasonal packs and some mini-packs in the shop in the menu. The game is perfectly fine without these but if I had to recommend one I’d suggest the star dwarves pack that adds two new specializations for your military dwarves and a new enemy type on top of a bunch of decorations. Speaking of military dwarves let’s talk about those. Military dwarves are your fighter units that help your prince fight enemies. They attack enemies automatically and can specialize three times, the first time being a choice between ranged and melee and the second and third further specializations of those. You unlock those specializations via a tech tree. You can get points for this tech tree by having your researchers work at a work bench. There are four tiers of upgrades adding up to a bunch of upgrades, all of which being pretty significant. The one downside is that in the later missions of the game, it gets pretty easy to unlock the entire tree by the end of the level, making choice obsolete. The last category are your worker dwarves who gather food and lumber for you.

The campaign consists of 12 missions including the tutorial, six main missions and six side missions which I really recommend you do, since they give you nice rewards for your prince in the form of armor and weapons, and a lot of influence which is used to unlock permanent upgrades throughout the campaign. While I was playing the game I did have one particular bug return where my dwarves would not go dig in a certain place even though they could reach it. This was easily solved every time by saving and quitting to the world map and going back into the level but a bit annoying none the less. One mayor problem I did have with the game was the camera. The game has a mostly top down perspective but it leaves you pretty free to move the camera as you like. That’s all fine but I found myself fighting the camera more often then not at the start of the game and even after twenty hours the camera sometimes made very random movements. I even had exit to the world map once just to get the camera back into an angle where I could see something. A pretty annoying flaw in an otherwise good game.



So the conclusion. Well if you’ve gotten to this point (for which I thank you, this one turned out to be a bit longer then I expected it to be) you probably know how I feel about A Game of Dwarves and there’s no need to for me to repeat myself. But for those of you who skipped to this part because you just wanted to know the key points or you got sick of reading the rest of the review here’s the short version. A Game of Dwarves is a great little indie dungeon management game with hours and hours of content, a good story and a really nice graphical style. It has a few problem here and there and the soundtrack’s not all it could have been but all things considered definitely a game worth buying.







VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

No Comments

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.