A million years ago, I was talking about how I went back and replayed Orcs Must Die! (which still held up) and, right in the middle of replaying that, a little game called “Dungeon Warfare” came out. It was the bird’s eye view version of Orcs Must Die! and it was a whole lot of fun. Pixel graphics, different play styles, different things to emphasize as you played… basically, tower defense but a really fun variant (the backstory is similar to Dungeon Keeper’s… you’re the bad guy protecting your dungeon from adventurers) and having been playing Orcs Must Die! made discovering it even more fun.
Well, very recently, I’ve been playing Witcher 3 when I had an hour or more to sit down and play a game but trying to find something else for when I only had 20 minutes or so. I rediscovered Orcs Must Die! and was back to playing that (and having a blast! The game still holds up!) when, believe it or not, Dungeon Warfare II came out. Well, *I* didn’t know it was coming out. Maybe you did. But I let out a small exclamation of joy when I saw it.
I’ve only played it for about an hour but that’s enough time to beat five dungeons or so. So this isn’t a full review as much as a bunch of first impressions.
It’s got the skeleton of the original tower defense game. You start out with the dart trap and the spike trap, for example, and have to protect your dungeon heart from the various overworlders who want to overthrow the underworlders. It’s your job to underthrow them. Set your traps, destroy those who would oppose you, etc, etc. Spike traps are good for only one square, dart traps do less damage but can protect an entire hallway, you’ll recognize everything. But somewhere around dungeon number four, the difficulty starts getting tougher. Like “oooh… If I want to beat this with a perfect score, I’ll need to come back later with more experience and more upgraded traps…” tougher.
And, at this point, you start to notice that “more experience” means something different in this sequel. Instead of automatically getting new traps after you beat a dungeon, you have the option of spending experience points to unlock new traps. Experience points that you could, of course, use to upgrade the traps you already have. So spending experience is now just a little more dear. You also now have skill points that could be spent on different skills. What’s your play style? Do you play with 10 different traps on your map? Do you prefer to stick with just two or three trusted favorites? Would you rather get more experience or gold when you start so you can lay more traps than get stronger versions of the ones you already have? Well, then put your points in the skills that will best accent your play style.
Oh, and after you beat certain dungeons, you can sometimes win new items. Some of the items will be unique. Some will be randomized. The “Beginner’s Luck” trinket, for example, is a unique item that gives you a 5% bonus to life when you start a dungeon. Gears that you find can make certain traps do more damage or reset more quickly. Jewels can give your minions better health.
Certain monsters in the dungeons can drop runes. This rune has invading monsters speed up 10% but you get more experience. That one has them heal quicker but you get more experience. What tradeoffs are you willing to make for more experience?
All in all, I’m only a handful of maps into the game but I can tell that it’s everything that I liked about the original with a handful of new tricks for those who were hoping for just a little more than just a little more of the same.
So… what are you playing?
(Picture is HG Wells playing a war game from Illustrated London News (25 January 1913))