Video Game Review: Dwarfs?!

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Dwarfs!? for the PC from Power of Two games feels like a mix between Lemmings, Dwarf Fortess, and a tiny bit of minecraft thrown in. Coming in at $9.99 does this game have what it takes to make my ten dollar investment worth it? Find out.

I was a little reluctant to pick up Dwarfs!? Being that the game didn’t look to huge on content and being 10 bucks I was skeptical. With more than a few hours trying to strike it rich here’s a story all about how my caves were all filled with lava.

Story

Well, there isn’t any. The basic premise is that you are a Dwarf overseer who’s goal is to weigh the risks and rewards of digging for riches or possibly death. I do have to tip my cap to the writers. While there isn’t much writing to be had, the tutorial is filled with more than few jokes I got a nice chuckle out of and the missions have a little quip here and there.

Gameplay

Where this game lacks in any real story, it makes up for in gameplay. Like I stated above you have to weigh the risks and rewards of digging, but this is much easier said than done.

The game starts off in the very middle of a huge map, you only get one square of area which you can move around in. This is the main area where you were be branching out. To dig your way into the books of dwarven history is by utilizing your digger dwarf unit. I’ll touch more on these little guys later.

Your goal is dig in the unexplored caves, these are darkened areas that contain either gold, lava, water and goblins. Water and lava are pretty simple as you are given a wall and dynamite tools to help you out. Walls keep water at bay and dynamite is used to create holes where the lava can safely fall . Once you have stopped the flow you must then cave in the area by solidifying the perimeter of the water or lava cave, this will ensure that no diggers accidentally open up another entrance and screw you over. Solidifying can get very expensive and is another choice you must make.

Using walls has to be quick if you want to avoid disaster

Goblins are another story. These beardless pests will actively kill your diggers and destroy your buildings. To combat this you are given a few warrior dwarves to help defend your dig-site. These guys aren’t free like the digger dwarves and you have to spend your hard earned treasure if you want to defend yourself. This again, comes with it’s own set of risk-reward factors.

As you can tell, this game is all about balancing your finances and your actions. For example, the digger dwarves if left alone will dig on their own. While this is nice sometimes you aren’t ready to deal with a huge surge of lava filling up your tunnels and must direct them, but doing so comes at a cost. Directing a dwarf to go to a specific spot will cost you more money than if they decide to go die in liquid fire. The further you direct them, the more expensive it gets. So what do you decide? Explore that care and face a huge money pit as you attempt stop the incoming flow, or try to strike it rich?

Once you get past the slight learning curve you can easily watch the minutes fly by as you go for round after round. The arcade game mode can be played in five, fifteen, thirty, or sixty minute chunks. At the time of this writing, I have trouble getting past 15 on normal difficulty. Apart from that you have a few extra game modes like tower defense, a sandbox mode where you can play with all of the games assets, a mission based campaign mode, a endless and a rush mode also help extend the life of Dwarfs!?.

Controls

I feel controls needed its own little section because I’m not a huge fan of them. If you want to direct a dwarf you have to click on him and drag where you want him to go, the problem is that the path that it draws likes to go towards unnecessary walls. The more your dwarf has to move the more money you spend, and in a game where you have to count every penny this can get annoying.

If the arrows don’t make sense, you’re not wrong.

My second gripe with the controls has to do with the combat. When you’re being ganged by a handful of goblins I wish there was a way to efficiently direct multiple warrior dwarfs to a site of a battle. Sometimes you’ll encounter boss monsters and without a way to get a few guys there by walking is a pain. This second one isn’t so bad because you do have the ability to use a dwarf cannon to launch a group of warriors to a far location.

Graphics

As you can see from the screenshots there isn’t anything graphically amazing about this game. It’s a very simplistic, and clean style that compliments the gameplay. That being said I did wonder if this game was originally meant for another platform. One that rhymes with lie-cone, maybe? I swear this game was ripped from a smart phone developer-kit and was published on PC. Not that it’s a bad thing, I’m just as open to time-sinks on my PC as I am on my phone.

Multiplayer

There isn’t any, and it’s sad. With such a simple and clever premise, I’m sure the developers could have found some way to incorporate some multilayer elements that would have been fun, but not slapped on. The only connection to the outside world is by checking the scores others around the world have gotten in the various game modes offered.

Overall

Dwarfs!? Published by Tripwire and developed by Power of Two is a simple, quick paced, but addictive game. At ten dollars it gives you just enough content to keep you from getting bored too quickly. The lack of multiplayer might throw you off, but why have other people ruin your game when the very dwarves you control can do it for you? The controls leave a little to be desired, but they’re easy to deal with and just take a bit of practice.

If you’re looking for a fun time-sink while you’re downloading that next 50GB triple-A title or want a nice 15 minute exercise in controlled chaos look no further because Dwarfs!?(not Dwarves) has got you covered.

Buy Dwarfs!? on [Steam]

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