Fans of the original Dungeon Keeper series have been patiently waiting for a spiritual successor to carry the quirky yet forgotten legacy of the dungeon-management strategy games. But with long-defunct studio BullFrog Productions no longer operating at the helm (thanks, EA), its up to a band of hobbyist community modders to pick up the pieces.
Thanks to the crowd-sourcing sensation that is Kickstarter, studio Subterranean Games was able to accumulate enough funds to start off their own modern rendition of Dungeon Keeper. Called War for the Overworld, in a weird twist of fate, borrows its name from the subtle that was once given to the cancelled Dungeon Keeper 3. Subterranean was so successful in fact, that they were even bestowed some kind works from the original Dungeon Keeper creator himself, Peter Molyneux.
War for the Overworld was put out for public consumption back in May 2013, via Steam’s Early Access program. Meaning, you could very well sample what the game has to offer in its current state, but it doesn’t necessarily reflect the final product. You are essentially paying for an incomplete game. For diehard Dungeon Keeper fans, this may not be such a bad thing as a more open means of beta testing can provide useful feedback and expose possible game-breaking bugs.
That said, War for the Overworld in its current unfinished state will become fairly obvious to those who decide to get a head start. While development continues to be on-going, the game already has a lot of the core gameplay implemented. Mac-support was also added some time back, something I’ve personally wanted ever since I first heard about the Bedrock Beta.
However, despite being outfitted with a slightly better than your average config (at least, as far as the recommended specs go) – I was still running into performance issues such as slight frame dips and game freezes. Because progress is not exactly a huge factor for the game at this time, starting from anew didn’t really discourage me in the least.
Those who’ve stuck with the Dungeon Keeper series will feel right at home with the look and interface of WTFO. Newbies, like myself, will want to dive right into the tutorial mission before opting anything else. Greeted by British actor Richard Ridings’ narration, players will be guided on directing your Minions, excavating and creating rooms for your base of operations, or upgrading your abilities via the Skill Tree.
The interface definitely has some polish left, and was probably my biggest qualm with the current beta version. The lack of a minimap has been known for some time, but what probably perplexed me more were the Skill Tree choices. Unless you’re quick to view all the descriptions and tips listed in the loading screen prior to jumping on the tutorial, you’re much better off going to the official website and seek information there.
War for the Overworld is looking to launch sometime early 2014, so hopefully we will have a more fleshed out single player campaign plus multiplayer options around that launch window. Until then, you can opt for the DRM-free versions of Dungeon Keeper over at GOG.com.