sun 07/06/2020

Dungeon Keeper | reviews, news & interviews

Dungeon Keeper

Dungeon Keeper

A cynical attempt to squeeze cash from players by any means necessary

Dungeon Keeper - 'best value'

Dungeon Keeper is a mobile conversion of the classic PC strategy game that manages to take every fun element from the original and firewalls it behind a 'Free to Play' mechanic designed purely to nag you into handing over surprisingly large sums money. Let's lay this out from the start - it is an abomination; It is a dark pit of anti-fun; It is the hand that takes.

The original Dungeon Keeper was a huge hit in the late Nineties. The player must stock a dungeon (of the ...& Dragons variety) full of monsters, traps and other dungeon-y paraphenalia in order to stop any heroes who might decide to kick its doors in and attempt an adventure. It was a neat inversion of the traditional fantasy RPG and combined fun, innovative gameplay with a wickedly dark sense of humour.

Dungeon Keeper - better put the kettle on, this could take a while

The iOS and Android incarnation of Dungeon Keeper looks superficially the same. You still have to tunnel out the rock of your dungeon to build new rooms, place special room tiles (Gold Mine, Hatchery, Library, etc.) like a twisted version of Sim City and ensure there are enough traps and monsters around to defend your pile of loot. Unfortunately, all of the classic Dungeon Keeper gameplay is little more than a gloss on top of what is a fairly naked attempt to clone the Clash Of Clans style of raid-based rounds with opportunities to beef up your beasties and arsenal of spells in between skirmishes.

Worse, almost every aspect of the game has been wrapped in countdown timers. To explain: if you want to deploy a new monster, a timer will tick down to delay you by say, one minute. You can spend a Gem (one of DK's three in-game currencies) to ignore the timer and get that Troll straight away. Similarly if you want to research a spell but can't wait the four minutes of real-time it will take then another couple of Gems will do the trick.

This seems reasonable until you get past the tutorial and start to do some serious tunneling and you see timers pop up for four hours, 16 hours, one day. Yes, digging out a square of gemstone-infused rock will take you an entire day of chiseling unless you cough up around 250 Gems. You start with 500 Gems and when you see just how impossible it will be to dig a tunnel to where you want to go without going through LOADS of this kind of rock then you quickly realise you have a choice - get your wallet out or learn to be very, very patient indeed.

Dungeon Keeper - decisions, decisions..

Assuming you go for the former option you can buy more Gems at a variety of price points, from the cheeky (£2.9 for 500 Gems) to the wince-inducing (£13.99 for 2,500) to the downright piss-taking (£69.99 for 14,000). Yes, you read that right. No, I don't know how EA can justify it and - DOUBLE-NO - I don't think you should do it because the way this game is designed, those 14,000 gems will slip through your fingers before you can say "Watchdog Special Report."

You could buy a lot of games from the App Store or Google play for 70 quid and there are plenty of tower defence or strategy titles available that will take care of whatever itch you thought Dungeon Keeper might scratch. You could even pop over to Good Old Games ( and pick up the original game for $5.99 (£3.67) and play it on PC or Mac. I haven't tried it but I even think there is a reasonable chance that you could install a PC emulator like DosBox Turbo on an Android phone or tablet and play it that way. It may turn out to be quite fiddly and awkward but I guarantee that even the process of googling to find out how to get it to work will be more enjoyable and rewarding than playing this terrible, cynical excuse for a game. I'm giving this one star, partly because it has pretty good art and voice acting but mostly because theartsdesk's star-rating system can't do negative scores.


Get your wallet out or learn to be very, very patient indeed.


Editor Rating: 
Average: 1 (1 vote)

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