Dungeon Lords

So I got bored and decided to borrow a copy of a game from my roommate. Dungeon Lords - Collector's Edition. It's a bit on the old side at this point, having been released in 2006. Or in the case of the CE, rereleased. The basic plot is that you have been summoned to the city of Fargrove by a mysterious order of clerics called the Celestial Order. There is a great evil building in power, and naturally you've been picked as the one lone person who can put a stop to it by collecting and using the relics of power. Along the way there's some political wrangling to be done, a king's daughter to save, and the honor of an Elven noble house to restore. There's plenty of bad people to kill and a fair amount of loot to be won. And of course the ultimate evil needs defeating. All in a day's work!

The problem with this game shows itself fairly quickly. I played on the default difficulty and random encounter setting. I can tell you right now that having done so was very very frustrating. The game thinks you should have to routinely battle groups of enemies at 10-15:1 ratios. Sometimes with enemies powerful enough individually to kill you in just a few hits. So fighting off an entire group of people leads to a lot of running away and sometimes not even living to fight another day. You're pretty much screwed if you get into a fight with something that has a breath attack. Your character will stand around physically coughing and weasing and be unable to function. If you try and play through this as the challenge they intended, you'll probably just die. A lot. I spent an insane amount of time with my inventory menu open simply because I discovered it would stop further combat action.

The magic system was equally sub-par, requiring that you gather up tons of useless ingredients, or buying dozens of crystals, or getting your hands on tons of spellbooks. Not necessarily because you had to gather stuff, but because you can only cast the spells for a limited number of times and then you have to wait for an excessively long time before they recharge and can be used again. It goes way beyond the hassles normally associated with mana and waiting on that to charge up.

Weapons and armors are also in very short supply for anything of any real value. None of it is easily identified, and much of it breaks down faster than you can keep up by repairing it. The only upside is that getting things repaired in a shop is much cheaper than standing around doing it yourself on some remote field. Ranged weapons suffer even more due to the fact that they do very little damage and by the time you get ahold of a decent bow, your enemies have so many hitpoints it literally takes 30 minutes to bring them down. You are in effect forced into fighting melee battles against hoardes. Best hope you can get your hands on a good sword, you'll need it.

Cities in the game are no refuge, despite the obvious implications that they are. Arriving in Fargrove as a fresh young newbie - after your obligatory crawl through the longest dungeon since Eye of the Beholder - you are immediately set upon by all manner of bats, rats, snakes, and roving bands of thieves. There is a town guard, but they are slow to react and are therefore of little value in helping you stay alive.

By far the biggest problem this game has though is that the quest log is practically useless, leaving you with entries little better than "Go find the ubersword" and no indication of where to look, or who to contact about it afterward. There are also a number of quests that simply don't log anything at all and the game will cease to remind you about them in any way. You can therefore have plenty of quests to do, but have no idea you still need to do them.

There are a couple of bugs still left in the game as well. Despite claims that all issues were patched out for version 1.5 (what I played) I had one second tier class quest fail to complete itself properly. I did not get the reward for it, the skill bonuses, or even the actual class title. Trying to get the game to reoffer the quest also failed so I ended up unable to promote the fighter class and had to settle for only promoting the Adept class.

Your main quest in the game is not too bad as far as story is concerned, but the whole thing is so poorly executed that the results end up as nothing more than a barely passable game over all. You'll spend too much time on minutia details. It's one true saving grace is that the game never crashed. Rock solid, so they had that much going for them at least.

The dungeons themselves, which this game is clearly focused on, have some pretty interesting puzzles and you will be made to think. However, you'll need to think quickly because that next random battle with the same old boring spiders and undeads is waiting for you around every corner. The game's graphics, though dated by 2009 standards, aren't too bad for 2004. It's too bad it wasn't improved on some for the CE, but alas.

If I had the choice to do over, I'd pass on this one. Even for free. You'd do well to avoid it yourself. Unless you can get a co-op game or something going. It appears as though the game was built with multiplay in mind and sandbox play was an afterthought. But even then I can't imagine things would improve enough to make it worth the time.

There was a sequel planned but it appears as though the project has been canceled. Official word is "on hold" but I think it's safe to say that the lackluster gameplay of the first one has killed any chance of more of these spawning.
"It is pointless to resist, my son." -- Darth Vader
"Resistance is futile." -- The Borg
"Mother's coming for me in the dragon ships. I don't like these itchy clothes, but I have to wear them or it frightens the fish." -- Thurindil

Well. I guess that's that then.

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Posted on Oct 30, 2009 10:55 pm by Samson in: | 8 comment(s) [Closed]
I've never played it before myself, though I've seen it on the shelves at software stores for years now and more than once considered it. Sounds like I've made the right choice all those times. I checked, after reading your review, and it seems the folks over at GameSpot were a little kinder than you in their overall rating of the game, but mostly felt the way you did about it.

Well that review of theirs is rather old, probably even before the Collector's Edition came out. I'd say their synopsis is at least as critical as I was of it. I didn't even bother to mention the hosed audio because frankly I didn't care anymore. The game really had way too many nagging little issues to be worth the time. Especially my experience with the final area. Due to a bug with one of the graphics, one of the final baddied I had to kill got himself stuck between collision planes and I didn't notice. I figured the script had broken or something until I ran across a forum post buried deep in some old forum that mentioned dudes getting stuck behind walls but still being hittable in combat. Sure enough, there he was, thankfully unable to breathe fire on me.

Oh yes, that's another massively annoying thing. Fire breathers. There are WAY too many of them. Get caught in the flames, you may as well just run, cause even opening the inventory screen won't save you from that. Get multiple fire breathers on screen, the battle is going to take you a long ass time to finish. Simply put, absolutely not fun.

Yup, definitely sounds like a game better left remaining on the shelves at the store then. Too bad, it's got a very promising box. ;)

Something i have been playing a bit of is a game called Saga. https://www.playsaga.com/saga_index.php its a hybrid rts mmo, it does somethings well and others not so well, but i is enjoyable to play solo and co-op, it has a fair focus on pvp which is not really my cup of tea, so i mostly play it solo and use my guild for chat. It is however not really free and to be competitive you would need to invest about $100 bucks into the game to build out your army, i did that and have reaped the benefits of being able to out level those who do not have access to money to waste on a game. In a week or so, once exams are over i will get back into working on my mud and putting all my energy in there.

Peace out yall.

One of these days I might even get around to writing something up for Two Worlds. Played that one awhile back but never posted about it. I'll probably need to reinstall the game and go poke around some again to refresh my memory, but that was a much better game all around.

Lately, Dragona and I have been playing Sacred 2 - Fallen Angel lately. We really enjoyed the first Sacred and had tried to participate in the beta for Sacred 2 but had technical problems with the beta that the devs advised us were unresolvable at the time. Now that it's been released, we've bought a copy and are sharing it (it comes with a key good for two computers) and enjoying it so far. The game is only about $20 at most available sellers and, while some aspects may take a little getting used to, the game itself is pretty good. Even the folks at GameSpot seem to think so, especially the players themselves as opposed to just the reviewers who barely gave it a better score than they had for Dungeon Lords.

Just my two cents since we've clearly moved on to the subject of other games... ;)

Just my two cents since we've clearly moved on to the subject of other games... ;)

Yeah sorry about that, i got an A+ in thread derail 101. Peace out yall and HI.

I'll admit that you're far from alone in that skill set, but in this case, I think Samson's review was pretty thorough and didn't leave a lot of room for discussion, so opening the floor to other game recommendations that are within the same genre doesn't seem like a bad thing to me.

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