One of the most addictive games that I had a chance to play recently was one that I didn't really expect to be as addictive as it was, and that was A Game of Dwarves. Which like the other games on show was also in a pre-alpha state, but was extremely promising even at such an early stage in its development.
At a glance it might give the initial feeling of a game on the Sega Saturn, now this isn't in any way me trying to be derogatory towards the game, I loved the Saturn in its day. Something just shouts the charm of the Sega Saturn, it may be the colour palette used in the game, the chubby faced dwarves or the style of gameplay but I instantly fell in love with it after giving it a go.
A Game of Dwarves is a management simulator that's been streamlined, but don't let the words "management simulator" put you off in any way. Think Minecraft plus minions who do your every bidding, except the minions are dwarves, but you still get to sit back and tell them what to do. The main reason I'll relate it to Minecraft is the fun of digging, you could easily compare it to Terraria or any other similar games that are out there. I don't know about you but I find digging tunnels extremely satisfying, especially when everything's nice and rectangular, but at the end of the day it's not all about mining.
The dwarf load-out is varied to give you a fair bit to work with, you can command crafters, miners and warriors to name a few. Each dwarf has its own duty to carry out that you command, however this control is not over a micro scale, you command all units of each class from a simple button click when you select certain abilities. Making it easy to mark out where you want to be dug up, and when dwarves are free they'll go about their duties, or you can find them napping or eating. One thing you must be careful about is the location of your dwarves, if you make them dig deep and don't give them a ladder they can end up starving to death as you've trapped them in a shaft with no means of escape.
Your only way to gain more useful minions is by getting Dwarflings, one is magically grown every time you gain a certain amount of gold, once the criteria has been met one will appear and gain experience by walking around. Once he's made it to level 1 you can then define the class that he'll be, but you have to be strategic with your choices as once you choose a class you can't change it. And although it might be better to have more miners, it can be better to have a good defence for if you encounter any orcs. The Dwarflings are the only class in the game who level up without needing to perform tasks. For example a miner will gain experience by digging, or a warrior by fighting, and in order to make sure your warrior's aren't forever level 1 in-case they don't encounter any orcs you can fork out a large sum of gold to buy a training dummy to get them skilled up.
As well as warriors, eventually your crafters will be able to inflict damage by creating traps once you have the resources. There will be a variety of traps; potentially including spikes, fire and ice. Zeal are currently working on the trap system to allow you to protect your mines from any nasty orc intruders.
The goal of the game is to take back what was once the dwarves which has since been taken over by the orcs, and to take back your land you can expand your base out on a fairly large scale. As you expand your mines you can come across rare metals; such as stone, gold or silver, run into some nasty orcs who didn't want disturbing or come across some hidden treasures. It's all about exploration so you pretty much just explore to your heart's content, the only issue I found was that by default I found myself only expanding out on a horizontal plane as it's easier to keep an eye on your mines. However after playing it for a while I broadened out vertically and found lots of gold to allow me to gain more dwarves. You are able to find much better resources when digging deeper, but there's also the chance of running into tougher enemies which could easily wipe you out if you aren't prepared.
Handily when you do branch out further across both planes, to ensure that you don't get too lost once your mines have gotten to a substantial size they've added a slider for the map so you can quickly check out the situation on the floors to make sure all is well. Although if you do start spending lots of time away from your original base you may want to keep checking back on it as your dwarf prince must be protected at all costs, he's your biggest liability as if all your warrior dwarves get killed by orcs they'll be coming for your prince next and then it's game over!
A Game of Dwarves is an old style of game which is getting a great revamp from Zeal, every moment of the game was enjoyable and it perfectly fits the requirements of the current day PC gamer, alt tabbing between windows while making sure their dwarves are getting the required attention they need. It is currently set for a release date around Q4 of 2012 for Windows and Macintosh, as well as a later release on Playstation 3; I honestly can't wait for its release so I can spend hours playing it to make the perfect mine for my dwarven friends.