Dungeon Keeper is a classic game launching back in 1997, and now there is a brand new version made for iOS. The core concepts remain, but infused with touch controls, 3D graphics, and a free to play system. Dungeon Keeper lets you dig out a lair complete with traps, minions, and gold reserves. The gameplay offers simulation building elements in constructing your dungeon, and then there are tower defense, and real time strategy aspects in the action sequences. All of it adds up to an experience that greatly resembles the popular Clash of Clans as you build up your lair, and then go on the offensive to raid other lairs.
In the case of Dungeon Keeper you begin by setting up gold and stone mines with both currencies used to get new buildings, and upgrade existing ones. As you level up your main dungeon heart, you have access to new buildings, traps, and minions. The goal is to constantly build up your reserves to enhance your buildings to create a better offensive for raids to then collect more currency to start the process again. Not only do you raid other lairs, but you also need to defend your own, so you need to put in traps, place defensive buildings appropriately, and have minions hanging around your dungeon. There are essentially three types of games in one as you build up your lair, and then defend it, or attack others to help boost it. The tower defense, and real time strategy modes have some nice strategy involved as you get to time up when you place new minions, and pick the ones best suited for certain defenses.
The single player campaign is the stand out of the game as it keeps the action flowing, and provides an obvious upgrade path that cuts through the clutter of the in-game store. It also alternates between offensive and defensive missions with the only drawback having to wait on resupplying your minions after each mission. You also have access to attack any online player, but it’s limited since there are random match-ups, rather than specific friend conquests. The game does a take awhile to get going, and even after a few days it still feels like you’re in the opening stages of your dungeon construction, and the single player campaign. Everything is drawn out unnecessarily, but it still is an engaging experience that keeps you coming back. The design is also worth commending from the 3D art style to the infusion of humor of slapping imps, and listening to your demon dungeon advisor.
The comparison to Clash of Clans can’t be understated as a lot of the mechanics are almost identical. There are two forms of in-game currencies that you mine for, and another premium currency to speed everything along. Both games feature similar building set-ups, and include a campaign where you create units to then send to destroy others’ lairs. There is a single player campaign against computer outposts as well as the ability to raid, and be raided by online players. Almost every single action you perform in Dungeon Keeper is seen in Clash of Clans as you gain resources, prepare units, raid enemies, and then build up your lair to enhance the process. The timers, and in-app purchase systems are very similar as well, and it’s tough to tell them apart beyond the theme.
A big stink has been made about Dungeon Keeper for iOS, and it’s the new poster child of all that’s wrong with mobile games, freemium structure, and re-doing classics. The freemium structure of Dungeon Keeper is nothing out of the ordinary, and it’s not overly restrictive so you can play the game for free with patience. It’s a slow moving experience, and the gems are hard to come by which mainly comes into play when expanding your dungeon. You need gems to get more imps, and make it through the four hours to a whole day that it takes to dig through the tougher rocks to dig out your dungeon. Another problem is that there are expensive boosts, which help you gather 40% more resources from a particular event, but they cost to get meaning you’re earning less when not paying money.
Dungeon Keeper (Free, Universal) offers some quality gameplay elements that are spaced out from a relatively predictable free to play structure. It’s worth considering as there’s an engaging nature with a lot to partake in, and the whole experience is based on how patient you are. It all depends on your mindset going in, as if you’re expecting a free to play game, then there’s some nice strategy to enjoy. If you’re looking for classic Dungeon Keeper this isn’t it, and it’s also relatively redundant if you’re quite familiar with Clash of Clans.