While I’ve never played a Dungeons game before Dungeons 3 I somehow felt like a veteran to the series. I’ve always known about the series, and I’ve always been familiar with its gameplay and often fourth-wall-breaking humour, however I’m pretty sure I’ve never played a Dungeons game.
That being said, with Dungeons 3 being my first experience of the series, I’m pretty glad I jumped in when I did as I’ve instantly fallen in love with the game. Honestly, I can’t get enough of its challenging yet satisfying gameplay, nor can I get enough of its incredibly tongue-in-cheek fourth-wall-breaking comedy.
For some reason, Dungeons 3 manages to shine where other games might not. And what I mean by that is with its fairly rinse and repeat gameplay. For those unfamiliar with Dungeons 3 (and probably the series overall) the game consists of two main mechanics. The first is the dungeon building, the second is unit management and battling.
The dungeon building part is, for the most part, the core focus of the game. Players are presented with a blank canvas at the start of each mission usually consisting of at least the Dungeon Heart, a Treasury, and a handful of snots (weird little slave goblins) to do their bidding. Players then expand on this dungeon by mining out rooms, collecting gold, and building living quarters and other little rooms for their army.
During this time, you periodically leave your dungeon to visit the “Good” world to take on groups of enemies, capture Evil Islands, and usually complete the game’s main missions. This is where most of the story plays out too, but more on that later.
Throughout the game players are required to micromanage both their dungeon dwellings and completing the mission at hand on the surface. Periodically enemies will enter your dungeon so it’s ideal to create some sort of defence, it’s also a pretty good idea to leave a few units behind in the dungeon to provide more of an offence against incoming intruders, and this is where the fine balance comes in.
You’ll likely spend most of your time in the game dancing between your dungeon and the surface as you finely balance the dungeon management and real-time strategy elements of the game. Sometimes it can become quite tricky, especially during missions when there’s a pressing time limit and you decide to storm the objective only to find that your population limit has been reached and you have no one to defend your Dungeon Heart from the sneaky bastard that made it past your series of complex traps.
Probably the best part of the game though? The game’s entire narrative which continuously pokes fun at you and the entire game itself. Throughout the entire game the narrator and the game’s characters will often bite at each other, or will point out the obvious flaws of the genre, or even video games themselves. It’s this tongue-in-cheek narrative which has you enjoying the game even more, for some bizarre reason, as you can enjoy the game for what it is, and that’s a really solid dungeon sim / RTS game.
Considering the dungeon management genre started well over 20 years ago now, Dungeons 3 feels incredibly fresh and polished. While I can’t compare it to the 2015 release, Dungeons 2, or the 2011 debut, Dungeons; Dungeons 3 feels like a hearty mix of everything that made both the dungeon management sim and real time strategy game genres great.
The difference between Dungeons 3 and other games with real-time strategy elements is that you don’t get to control armies of hundreds of units. At most you’ll find that you can max up to about 20. What sets this game apart is the ability for each of your units, from Orcs to Banshees, to gradually level up as they battle. This allows you to have a smaller army of much more ruthless units making your assault on the enemy a little more finely-tuned.
That being said, one thing I can see being a bit of a downfall is the variety of units players can have in their armies. There are three factions in total, and of those three factions there are four total units. That means, aside from Thalia, the game’s Anti-hero hero, there are only 12 unique units. Sure, some of these factions offer “free” units, like the Undead throwing you a couple of zombies into the mix, but ultimately, there isn’t much variety in the types of units you can employ.
This lack of variety does allow a much more streamlined gameplay as you get to learn and retain what unit does what and you can easily pull them out of a crowd if needs be, however I can see how some users may be disappointed by this added simplicity.
Dungeons 3 is an incredibly easy to pick up game. After blasting through the tutorial, you’ll be thrust into the campaign which doesn’t throw too much at you. It slowly introduces you to new features such as spells, traps, shrines, and other mechanics. This learn-as-you-play method is something I love being added to games such as this, as you don’t feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options available.
My only criticism, especially playing the game on PC, is that the UI was a little sparse, and putting most of the options in a slide-away menu often had me whizzing across the other side of the map attempting to navigate the build menu. There are also little-to-no video controls meaning that you can either run it, or you can’t. While that’s not necessarily an issue for those with a beefy PC, for those with something capable of running some games on “Low”, you’ll be shit out of luck with this one.
Overall, as a newcomer, I found Dungeons 3 more than accessible, incredibly easy to pick up, and insanely addictive. While the rinse and repeat gameplay could be off-putting for some, the game’s narrative and the overall tactful humour placed throughout, more than made the game a brilliantly enjoyable experience.