Gaming in 2016 can be said to be split into two main sections: casual and non-casual. The casual scene, which dominates the landscape, is made up of jocks, who buy their copy of Call of Duty and FIFA each year and each release of GTA, play a couple of hours in the weekends and proclaim they are the best ever. Jokes apart, casual gaming consists of dedicating a couple of hours here and there to an action game or sports game, with no real dedication to it. The other side of the coin shows the actual gamer, who is first of all aware that there are thousands of other games releasing each year. These gamers are also ready to try out different genres and games, not just stick to the same three or four titles all year.
Among these lesser known genres lie strategy, indie, 2D platformer and dungeon building, and a whole lot more. These genres are generally much more time consuming than a standard action adventure game, which is one of the reasons why they are not really popular among casual gamers. One example of quite a time consuming game is Dungeons 2. Now this game was released over a year ago on PC, but seeing how this genre is slowly growing on consoles, the game was brought to the PlayStation 4. Dungeons 2 is a mix of dungeon building and RTS, and while it carries out the former quite well, the second is honestly bad.
The game begins with you controlling the “Ultimate Evil”, and even though you are the ultimate evil, you still get beat up pretty badly. The opening of the game is a tutorial level located at King’s Ending, and while it takes place at a supposedly final battle before the Alliance’s destruction, it is aimed at teaching you the basics of the above-ground gameplay, such as moving, which is done by practically spamming the square button until your selection arrives to that place, which can take quite forever with some units. There are also abilities and spells in the game, and you are required to use one to progress in such tutorial, even though missing the cue of the narrator, whom we will come to talk about soon, will result in you circling around and wondering what the hell to do next. Trust me, it does happen.
After the tutorial level you are explained the basics of dungeon building, and this is where the game starts to become interesting. You begin by hiring Little Snots, who are the workers in the game. You send them to mine gold, dig the dungeon to make it bigger, and basically construct anything available to make your dungeon better. There is for example a brewery, which is used to prepare beer and keep your recruited Orcs from getting thirsty. As the game progresses, you start getting more complex tasks such as building traps and the like. It all becomes more complicated but at the same time it is quite satisfying to see everything working, when you actually get it to work. Not because of the game mechanics, but because of its complexity.
Venturing out of the dungeon is one of the first objectives which is requested from you, and by some strange decision from the developers, the control scheme changes, as well as the UI. While the selection of units becomes more manageable thanks to holding down the X button and selecting a range of units, the rest is not. Selecting single units proves to be a bit daunting, since there are only a few units which have special abilities, and you have to scroll through each with the analog stick and select accordingly instead of being automatically assigned to a hotkey. This is probably because of quite a lot of confusion going on with the controller, for example the directional buttons are used to cycle between “levels”, but it is quite hard to distinguish the outside, resulting in moving here and there while you locate where you need to be. Combat is also a little frustrating in the sense that you have to physically move fallen units either to the hospital where they can be cured, or drop them towards their doom in the Throne, which honestly is the better option so you can get new units straight away. This is doubly so because of the population points, which is stuck at 15 in the beginning of the game, constricting you to only have a couple of Orcs, meaning you have very few defences. Luckily attacks come a fair time apart from each other and only a handful of units make it to your dungeon, so two orcs are enough to defend. Two full health orcs though, since these pesky invaders can decrease a chunk of health from your defences as well, so you probably are better off scrapping one or both to get fresh Orcs again after each encounter.
As we mentioned, the UI can get quite confusing, especially when you are devoting a high number, if not all, of your offensive units towards the mission goals, yet somehow someway enemy units find a way to your base. This leads to you having to sacrifice either an orc on the battlefield or two little snots from your base to hire more defences, which in turn will slow down your growth and your gold mining. While the sense of a trade-off is appreciated, it gets frustrating when you are required to do this half a dozen times during the same mission. The narrator who keeps on yapping about your objective time and time again definitely does not help either.
Talking about the narrator, yes he can be quite entertaining, but only for the first thirty minutes. He then just becomes another nuisance to the game, so much so that you are better off playing with the sound low or muted in sections when you know what to do, or in already played missions. He occasionally passes some good remarks or witty jokes, especially regarding what is common in similar games, but the majority of the game he is just talking senselessly. While the first ten instances of calling you _______ Evil, referring to the situation at hand (for example Negligent evil when you disregard his instructions) can be a little amusing, the following are not, since it is the same script all over again, which by the end of the game will make any functioning ears bleed.
Another factor which is of detriment to the game is its confusing frame rate and visuals. The game does have good visuals, but they are not to be compared to your Uncharted or Bloodborne for impressiveness. Still, frame rate can sometimes go all over the place, and graphics tend to take a little to load. Quite honestly, this is a little incomprehensible for a game which okay uses a chunk of processing power but actions are still carried out one at a time.
In conclusion, one must say that Dungeons 2 is an impressive dungeon simulator, one which takes its share of time to master but after this time, anyone will be pleased of his accomplishments. This cannot be said of the portions of the game above ground, since it quite frankly is a bit of a mess, with the only tactic available is to amass your troops in one giant wrecking ball, first via pointer and then selection, and send it on suicidal missions towards your objective, with your units dying and you having to recreate the troops and wasting time. It is not all bad, but the bad parts do decrease the rating quite a lot; it still gets over 5 because it does have potential, and as said before, the parts it gets right are very good.