Review: Dwarfs!? – Tunneling into our hearts

dwarfs screenshot 1
Review: Dwarfs!? – Tunneling into our hearts

Platforms: Windows PC, Steam

Game Name: Dwarfs!?

Publisher: Tripwire Interactive

Developer: Power of 2

Genre: Strategy, Casual

Release Date: May 4th, 2011

Developer Summary:

‘Dwarfs!?’ offers an addictive, fast paced arcade-like experience, with plenty of difficulties and game modes to play around in!

There are only 3 certainties in this world: death, taxes and that Dwarfs always dig too deep!

What We Think:

This isn’t your normal Dwarf Fortress clone, in fact after all of its components are put together into a whole, Dwarfs!? from indie developer Power of Two, turns out to be a rather unique strategy title, with a bent towards racing to get more points than someone else within a given amount of time. Because this time-lock is counted by virtue of leaderboards, you don’t get any sense of multiplayer, just a standing. These leaderboards are separated by the different types of games, which are divided by the time limits, difficulties and game modes.

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In a basic game, you get a time limit and attempt to score as many point as possible within that time. Your basic setup includes one digger, one warrior and one town center. So how do you score points? Well, my hopefully long-bearded friend, you must gain gold or silver! You do this by directing your digger dwarfs (sic) to the locations of the pockets of silver or gold. You may also direct them into caves which are dark pockets that light up as soon as you dig into them.

Though these may contain stores of riches, you must take heed for they can may also contain water, lava or enemies. To direct your diggers you must lay down arrows explaining where to go, each of which will set you back roughly 5 gold a piece. This means you must be frugal and sure that your arrows can pay for themselves. Paying for arrows that lead to a miner’s doom will definitely show up in the red on the books and as dwarfs are all about earning gold, that won’t help your score much. You may also gain gold from bonuses like digging up 500 tiles or sealing off caverns.

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So your miner has struck lava or water. If lava or water reaches your town hall, it’s game over. So what’s a hard working miner to do? Fortunately water can be simply walled-off and the blocks around it reinforced, making it impossible to dig though, but – watch out, “solidifying” costs a hefty 75 gold per tile and a wall costs 30. To seal off a small area can cost thousands of hard earned gold nuggets.

Lava is a bit different as it will burn walls so you will have to use dynamite to create an endless hole in the ground for the lava to fall, yet alas dynamite not only costs 50 gold, but the life of the miner or warrior that sets it off. If you then solidify the tiles around the lava, it will become completely trapped and you will gain a reward for doing so. The same thing can currently be done with water if you want the reward that badly.

Dwarfs are not only renown for their mining skills, but also for being great warriors which is crucial because the dark underground is no place for an unguarded miner. So you may train dwarf warriors to defend your town hall, which, if lost, will also lead to your defeat.

Thus you may require an outpost whence you may launch warriors to a location under threat (for a limited distance and only if the dwarfs are of a sufficiently high level), allowing them to ambush and kill any boss. If they aren’t, the outpost can take care of that too, allowing you to train up your warriors at a cost. 15 gold to be precise – per second per warrior, so don’t leave it turned on or all your work will be for naught! Warriors can also gain levels in the field – after all, they are performing the same task as when in training and that is whomping baddies.

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1. Arcade, which you set a time limit of 5, 15, 30, or 60 minutes then try to get the best score with in that time.

2. Base Defense, which is a tower defense game that you get to choose where the enemies go. You set the course, limited by the amount of money you can spend on arrows and you also have to buy towers. While you get a thousand gold pieces to start, you must also protect the four corners of the level at once.

3. Endless mode – like the arcade mode, but endless instead of a set limit.

4. Rush mode spawns dwarfs more rapidly but you can only let 200 of them die.

5. Dark mode, wherein all the tiles that the dwarfs can’t see, you also can’t see, so you have no idea where the gold, silver or even caverns may be located.

6. Sandbox mode: a mode that allows you to create your own levels and play around with the Dwarfs?! engine.

Dwarfs!? has a lot to offer and has enough variation to keep you motivated to dig deeper; different game modes will help you to never bore of this terrifically thought-out title.

At times the AI was be a bit too dim-witted for my taste, but dwarf miners are suppose to be annoyingly dim-witted, so I suppose it maintains the suspension of disbelief: be prepared to witness them greedily mining their way through the very walls that are holding back gallons of water from dooming their small town.

As frustrating as that may be, it’s a great game with many different modes, features and with high replay value.

Get Dwarfs!? on Steam

Visit the official site for Dwarfs!? at Power of Two

[xrr rating=”4.5/5″]