In addition to keeping heroes in line, prestige also empowers the player's avatar, the dungeon lord himself. Rather than being a disembodied architect, the dungeon lord is a physical unit on the dungeon map. As prestige increases, so, too, does the dungeon lord's powers. As long as he is within his area of influence, he gains combat bonuses as well as increased regeneration of health and mana. And if this sounds like an action-RPG, it is. Not a great one, though, much to the detriment of the game.
The fact that the dungeon lord is an actual playable character just didn't well for me. Mostly this was because combat just wasn't all that entertaining. Even with a simplistic experience tree's worth of abilities to field, I just didn't find much to hold my interest with a playable avatar. Due to the fact that the rest of the dungeon is a balancing act designed to keep heroes alive just until they were full of soul energy, much of the game is spent racing the Dungeon Lord around the map, chasing after heroes who are close to leaving. I would much prefer the role of architect and puppet-master, cleverly designing my dungeons to string the heroes along until just the right moment, when I could end them with a well-played trap or monster ambush.
There is a decent mix of goals and challenges for each level, although this, too, is a mixed blessing. Many of the goals were more oriented to the action-RPG part of the game, rather than the dungeon-building side of things, and so I didn't find them as interesting as I would have liked. I would have also preferred a more sandbox-style play--many of the levels begin with almost half of the dungeon carved out, and the "correct" digging paths painfully obvious. I realize the choice to make Dungeons a builder-RPG hybrid was a conscious one, but it failed to deftly walk the line between the two genres.
That being said, Dungeons is not a terrible game. And I did find myself liking it more as time went on, rather to my surprise. But, in a somewhat ironic twist, all of the game's allusions to my old favorite titles had quite an unintended effect--I increasingly wanted to return to those old gems rather than continue on in this soon-to-be-forgotten path.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
This action-RPG/dungeon builder hybrid fails to live up to the predecessors it so carefully tries to emulate.
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