In the midst of my Eurogamer Expo ramblings, I have been delving underground with some small folks in the beta for A Game of Dwarves. Hit the jump for some impressions of the game.
I should forewarn you that I have only completed the two tutorial levels and dabbled in the first proper mission, primarily because I don’t want to ruin the amusing interaction between the Dwarven King and the character you step in the shoes of, his son and the joy of sending minions out to dig towards whatever treasure they can find.
In the lore of the A Game of Dwarves universe, the dwarves were once mighty rulers of many lands until mages arrived and drove them out of their land. Your father doesn’t think you are a fit and proper leader of mini-men and tasks you with completing the two tutorial levels as proving grounds before letting you progress onto real challenges outside the safe land that the dwarves call home.
The premise of each level seems fairly straightforward, you have a set of primary quests and a few optional extras which will increase your reputation at the end of each level. As you climb the reputation levels you will be able to select different rewards to take with you to the next level, perhaps extra starting gold or a research point to help your colony progress. In the second tutorial mission, one which is almost worthy of being a full level in its own right, you are tasked with getting your colony off the ground with food and some nice decorations before going in search of a secret vault full of mysterious treasure.
Getting things going is easy enough, you assign your dwarflings various professions such as builder, digger, warrior or farmer. You decide where you want objects to be built and your carpenters hop to their task then you place some crops on some fertile soil and assign your farmer dudes to work on that area of ground. As simple as that, you have food being generated to feed your men, but of course dwarves need somewhere to eat and sleep, so you quickly order some beds and a table to be constructed.
Of course with all this building you realise you are running short on gold and room to expand, you select an area for your diggers to excavate with various goodies falling into your resource bank depending on what that block of dirt they dug through contained. However, not all blocks can be destroyed, some are a harder stone that is impossible to pass.
This well and truly stumped me for a while during the tutorial, I had to find the treasure room, but all the blocks surrounding it from the side were impossible to dig through. I was puzzled for a while as I thought that after digging down so far, and having ensured each new level had a ladder back to the top, I would find it easily. I had failed to think things through, suddenly with a brainwave I realised I could approach the treasure room from a different angle. Digging straight down to it rather than trying to break in from the side worked, but in my haste I forgot to build a ladder for my diggers to climb back to the area with food and beds.
Sadly they died before finding the treasure room, a lesson in planning learnt. Upon finding the treasure room I had to clear it of danger by sending my warriors in, a few sword slashes later the treasure was mine and the tutorial was complete.
I will resist from playing any more now, I am hoping that some small camera tweaks and pacing changes will make it into the final release, I spent almost the whole time with the game on fast speed. However, I am looking forward to really getting to grips with the dwarves, caring for each one through their levels and letting them specialise in different branches of their job while setting traps for foes and ensuring the den looks pretty. The only trouble is that I will have so much else to play come release on the 23rd of October, but I will make some small amount of time for this one.