Dungeon Keeper Preview
Back in the 90s, acclaimed veteran videogame developer Peter Molyneux released Dungeon Keeper, a delicious opportunity to play as the bad guy, design a lair filled with devilish traps, and then rain terror down upon any invading would-be heroes. Fast forward more than 15 years from the release of the original, and Mythic is hoping to introduce the game once more to a new generation of gamers - a generation more at home with a touchscreen than a mouse and keyboard.
It's broadly a mixture of what you know and what you don't know about the series. The tongue-in-cheek humor remains, and so as in the original game you'll have to swipe and slap your minions to keep them in line - although this time around there's the considerably more tactile feel of the touchscreen to deliver your wicked training with.
You'll also have access to all of the fiendish traps and rooms to craft your dungeon with. Hatcheries determine how many minions you can own, the Library allows you to craft more powerful spells for roaming invaders, while unlocking the Workshop allows you to field giant trolls who'll take out even the most determined assailants. At the heart of all this careful construction? The Dungeon Heart, and once this falls you'll be left in ruins.
This is an online-only game, so you can expect to do battle against other players around the world for the most part. Once you've crafted your creative lair, you'll find that players are keen to attack it and steal some of your precious resources to help enhance their own underground home. Here you'll discover just how solid your defenses are, where your weak spots are, and exactly how you need to tweak your dungeon to perfection.
Beyond this multiplayer mode, there'll be plenty to keep those who prefer solitary gameplay busy. An internal dungeon-testing tool will be included at launch, allowing players to pay a small number of coins to watch their dungeon come under attack. There'll be daily raids too that reward you for fending off specific waves of enemies. Minor missions will also give the solo player something to work towards.
As well as the always-online requirement, there's one other very modern gaming issue to contend with in this new take on Dungeon Keeper - the dreaded in-app purchase system, which in this game speeds up construction work. We'll have to see how much this unbalances things, although Mythic is at pains to stress that there is considerable gating at work in the game - you won't be able to simply buy your way to absolute power and domination on launch day, instead you'll have to work through the campaign to reach particular levels of prestige.
There are certainly modern aspects to this new take on Dungeon Keeper which purists might have preferred not to see, but the core gameplay that made the series such a firm favorite has largely survived intact. We'll find out how the whole package plays when the game releases towards the end of this year.