I was asked to review Dungeon Overlord, a Facebook game seemingly made in the style of the classic Bullfrog PC game Dungeon Keeper. The purpose of Dungeon Overlord is to build a powerful dungeon; you entice the monsters to your lair; mine gold, iron and crystals; build furniture; train creatures and attack the helpless humans on the surface. The bigger your dungeon gets, the more powerful the monsters that you can have in it.
I’ve dabbled with Facebook games before but most of them get little more than a few minutes play before they’re deleted from my permissions list. This has been the first time I’ve really dived into a Facebook game since Farmville, and that game nearly bored me to death.
First off, It’s fair to say that Facebook games are not my favourite type of video game. I’ll lay that one on the line straight away. I don’t really like their pace and I hate to be forced into repeatedly having to annoy my Facebook friends with requests and notifications to advance within the game. So Nightowl Games are going to have to have done something very special if I was to like Dungeon Overlord.
Despite my bias against Facebook games, I was pleasantly surprised by Dungeon Overlord. With the main issue I have against Facebook games being wonderfully absent. I have played this game for several days now, and not once have I needed to ask for something from any other player. I have not had to ask anyone to send me a sheep, or to help me build something by sending me wood or iron. I’m sure I could spam people into the next century if I wanted to but it’s not a mandatory part of Dungeon Overlord, and for that I am very grateful.
There is still the issue of having to wait for things to be built. Depending on what you are building, upgrading or creating you may have to wait for a couple of hours before it is finished. I know this is how Facebook games work. Every Facebook game I’ve played relies on the player playing regularly but for small amounts of time. I can’t say I love that approach but as I haven’t deleted the app in boredom and I was happy to log back on later, I couldn’t have been too bothered by it.
After sitting through the loading screen showing a number of Santa-hat clad goblins enjoying Christmas, you can start to play the game properly. You begin your first dungeon with some basic rooms, some gold, food and iron and a few goblins that are ready to run around and do all your menial work for you. The Goblin minions mine the gold and raw materials you use to build rooms and pay your creatures, creating room items or researching can attract other monsters which have specific functions. Warlocks perform research for you. Perform enough research and you can unlock further skills, rooms or creatures. As another example, once you have built a coarse mat for your den you can attract an Orc who makes the perfect warrior to attack surface settlements or other dungeons. There are restrictions, each dungeon can only consist of a certain amount of tiles and not every resource is available in every dungeon. As your empire expands you will have to trade between your own dungeons or with other players dungeons to get the items you need for further expansion.
As you play Dungeon Overlord, requests are made of you by way of quests which appear in a line at the bottom of the screen. It is these quests that guide you through the basic gameplay. At first the requests are simple and can be performed within one or two clicks and only a few minutes. Though as you advance the quests become more complex with longer completion times. In fact I did get lost several times when a quest would be given to me without clear instructions on how to do it. By this point in the game I had unlocked so many new items of furniture and crafting resources that I couldn’t find what I needed to build to attract a Dark Elf to my dungeon. I’m not going to list everything you need here but it was a combination of new rooms, room upgrades, furniture and crafted resources.
Visually speaking, Dungeon Overlord fits in well with other Facebook games. It is a bright and colourful game. The creatures are drawn in a cartoon style, which helps to keep a clear distinction between your dungeons denizens. The ‘Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy’ that plays as background music adds a level of familiar comic horror to the game, though I suspect this perpetually looped ditty may become annoying if you play Dungeon Overlord for long periods of time. The menu screens are bold and easy to read. In fact the game just shouts the Dungeon Keeper style. Although the cursor isn’t a monster hand, it’s just an arrow but I guess you can’t have everything.
Like many other Facebook games you have the option of spending real money to embellish the game, unlock perks etc. Dungeon Overlord is no different, its chosen currency is Gold Coins. These Gold Coins are used to automatically complete builds, open up more dungeon tiles to be built on, attract more goblins to your dungeon and many other things. I had a small allocation of gold and I can’t lie to you It was handy being able to cut two hour countdowns to nothing, but eventually the Gold Coins are going to run out and you’ll be facing those countdowns anyway. Of course you can always just buy more Gold Coins, it’s your call but I’ve never found a Facebook game worthy of spending real money on it.
- There is not much reliance on social activity to play the game.
- A nice nod towards Dungeon Keeper.
- Graphically bright and colourful.
- Free, although Gold Coins cost money.
- Bold and simple user interface.
- Some quest instructions are not as clear as they could be.
- You won’t be able to play for long periods of time without spending money on Gold Coins.
- The first loading screen can sometimes be a little long.
Well, despite all my initial misgivings I rather like Dungeon Overlord. I loved Dungeon Keeper and it has been nicely honoured in this Facebook game. They’ve also, either my accident or design left out everything that annoys me about Facebook games. There are still some build/upgrade waiting times that can sometimes feel a little excessive but these don’t bother me as much as I suspected they would do.
I suppose the real test would be to see if I was still playing in a few weeks time. It’s not something I can answer now of course, but as I don’t need the population of a small country to send me wooden planks to build a cow-shed, I can’t see why I wouldn’t be. As far as I am concerned Dungeon Overlord is a breath of fresh air for Facebook games. It’s different enough to stand apart from the huge army of Zynga games stampeding through Facebook like Wildebeests on methamphetamine. I recommend this Facebook game and I don’t say that very often, so cherish it.
If you wish to play Dungeon Overlord you can reach it from here.