It’s probably a good thing that Dungeons 2 doesn’t take itself too seriously. One of the standards of this game is that there are jokes running all the way through it. While the gameplay isn’t a total joke, there are things about it that left me scratching my head and wondering why the developers decided to do things this way. To be fair, there were also some things I really liked about the way Dungeons 2 is laid out, but in the end there wasn’t enough to make me fall in love or even lust with the title as a whole.
Perhaps the developers just bit off more than they could chew, deciding to combine a fundamental dungeon manager that calls back to the good old days of that genre, with a real-time strategy mode game. It would seem, and I’d imagine the creators believed that the combination of the two modes would make a compelling game. Instead the shortfalls of both modes takes away from the overall enjoyment and made me wonder why they didn’t just try and perfect one or the other.
"To be fair, there were also some things I really liked about the way Dungeons 2 is laid out, but in the end there wasn’t enough to make me fall in love or even lust with the title as a whole."
The story of Dungeons 2 revolves around playing as the Ultimate Evil (and his hand). I had to first build up my dungeon as that disembodied hand and this part of the game is actually pretty fun. I had to first order a few of the lowliest of my lowly minions, known as “Snots” to start clearing away walls and rubble and building me rooms. I also needed to get a few of them to start mining gold.
This mode also introduces something that seems to be new to dungeon management games as a whole in which I could actually tell my Snots they needed to work faster by slapping them. Whether or not this really serves a purpose, other than eliciting a chuckle seems unclear. The game has a number of jokes running throughout, including a voiceover by a narrator who basically serves as an extended tutorial, mapping out what I was supposed to do the deeper I got into the title. Several times, this narrator breaks the third wall in a way that is genuinely funny and could be pointed to as one of the best features of Dungeons 2.
Eventually I’m able to “recruit” additional units to my cause, with the first armed forces being Orcs. This is also where the game seems to start to go off the rails, because it’s never quite clear what the rules are for recruiting additional minions. There is a number that serves as the max number of units I could have, but there isn’t any sort of easy to determine cost for creating. Once I “made” an Orc, the label for this unit becomes shaded for a while in what appears to be a waiting period, but once that waiting period ends, there still isn’t a tried and true way to create another unit right away.
"The dragging and dropping also causes a bit of a problem because when I dropped an Orc right next to an enemy, the Orc was dazed for a bit and always suffered from a preemptive attack."
It would have been nice if the narrator would cover this topic if I tried to create another Orc too soon. While most of the battle takes place outside the dungeon, there are a couple of fights right there in that first level, including against a number of spiders as well as their queen. While picking up and dragging a unit into the fray is sort of a neat feature, it’s also pretty annoying considering there seems to be almost no AI involved. Despite the fact that the narrator noted enemies forces were marching on my dungeon, my army seemed completely oblivious.
The dragging and dropping also causes a bit of a problem because when I dropped an Orc right next to an enemy, the Orc was dazed for a bit and always suffered from a preemptive attack. Being unable to select more than one unit at a time, and then having to drag them to the fight also made the fight drag out entirely too long. If there was a better way to do this, it wasn’t remotely evident. This was also a problem I noted in my preview of the game and it’s a shame that wasn’t fixed.
Eventually and too long after it begins, the fight against the spiders is over and I was able to begin the second part of Dungeons 2’s gameplay. This is the RTS side and always takes place outside the dungeons. The combat here is easier to command, because I could actually select all of my units and point them to where they needed to go instead of having to drag them around.
"There is a cartoonish approach to Dungeons 2 which makes the game look pretty. The lighting and shading in the dungeons are impressive as well. Building dungeons is also quite fun, especially when building rooms like the brewery."
The complete lack of any real combat AI sticks out here even more, unfortunately. While the pointing and clicking is easier, if I happen to point and click at a point that is beyond where the enemy is located, my forces don’t stop and fight. Instead they wander by the enemy and wait for new orders. It’s fortunate the enemy does the same, but this is a feature I had assumed was ironed out years ago. Still having to say “no, idiots, there’s who you’re supposed to fight, stop waking past them,” in an RTS game in 2015 was disappointing to say the least.
I’ll stop here and note that I’ve been almost entirely negative about Dungeons 2 so far, but there are positives in the game. The look of the game is actually quite good and while the characters are ones you’ve seen before, they have a nice look and feel. There is a cartoonish approach to Dungeons 2 which makes the game look pretty. The lighting and shading in the dungeons are impressive as well. Building dungeons is also quite fun, especially when building rooms like the brewery (which is needed for the orcs.) It’s also fun to have Snots take out entire walls of the dungeon in order to expand my domain.
The problem is that there just isn’t enough here. The combat is not only frustrating but it’s nothing that hasn’t been seen a ton of different times. The problem is that the game attempted to bring something new by combining two features into one package and both came out pretty mediocre.
This game was reviewed on the PC.
The game looks pretty good and the dungeon management features, as far as building goes are actually quite fun. The game doesn’t take itself too seriously and there are a couple of moments that were genuinely funny.
The combat AI is almost non-existent and the dragging and dropping forces in the dungeon become annoying and far too time consuming quickly. There isn’t enough new in the features offered to offset the annoying parts of the game.
There was something promising about the way the developers put Dungeons 2 together but they didn’t really follow through with that promise. Instead we got a game that seemed as though the developers stretch themselves too thin.
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