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Review: Dungeon Keeper (iOS)

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Dungeon Keeper (iOS, Android)
Developed by Mythic Entertainment – Published by Electronic Arts

Don’t play this game.

That is all that I really want to say after having spent time with Electronic Arts’ free-2-play Dungeon Keeper revival. Because there shouldn’t even need to be a discussion as to whether or not this pitiful excuse for a game deserves your attention. But, given my job, I suppose I should tell you why. Here we go.

Dungeon Keeper is what happens when your worst free-2-play nightmares come true. I have never seen a game so directly designed to squeeze money out of its players. It’s a game in which the actual walls of your dungeon are pay-walls. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

In the game, close to every possible action is relying on the in-game gem currency. As the tutorial starts you’re given a few hundred gems for free to get started. The rest is up to you. You get gems by knocking down gem squares and unlocking achievements. However, if you wish to get enough gems to even be able to play the game at a sensible pace, you better be prepared to bring out your credit card fast.

imageAs you expand your dungeon you need to start knocking down walls on the grid. During the tutorial you’ll be able to take down a wall in 15 seconds or so, which is not too bad for a RTS. But then, out of nowhere, you come across the first four hour wall. A wall that takes four hours to knock down.

Then you find the twenty-four hour walls.

That’s right, one whole day to simply start making a hallway or a room. It’s outright disgusting. But the game has a “rush” feature in which you can use gems to skip the time it’ll take to knock down the walls. This rush feature is where the game shows its true side.

At first you’ll merely need maybe one or ten gems to utilize the rush feature, but after a few minutes you’ll find the game asking for numbers in the hundreds. Now, if you expect to get those gems by playing, have fun, you’ll get maybe five or ten per achievement assuming you can unlock them.

So you’re stuck waiting days just to build something unless you start giving the game all the money that it wants. You can’t even ask more minions to speed up the time, because they cost ruthless amounts of gems as well. The game is the very definition of pay-2-win, a true money trap.

The game also requires you to have a constant online connection to do anything. This ends up being yet another problem. Because one could maybe argue that the game is meant to be played passively for a few minutes a day as you slowly build your evil dungeon based empire. But forcing the player to always be in access of a stable connection removes that entire functionality, because you might not even be able to play it.

imageAs if that is not enough, the game will loudly yell at you while the game is shut down if you don’t open it up and collect your resources regularly. It will yell at you even if your iOS device is muted or if it has no connection. So even if you can’t start the game because of its online DRM it will still complain that you’re not playing it. The only solution is disabling its notifications or uninstalling it. Or better yet, never install it.

Battles are boring, strategic elements are lacking, the art-style is as generic as it gets and the comedy is dry as sand. Even without its disgusting unfriendly design, the game is severely lacking. This game is not only a disgrace to the Dungeon Keeper name, it’s a disgrace to mobile and free-2-play games of all kinds.

Maybe I didn’t go into much details regarding the gameplay in this review. Maybe I’ll do that for 2400 gems. Does that sounds fair?

Disgusting.

Final Score: 2/10

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