A Game of Dwarves review: Keep your feet on the ground

A Game of Dwarves review: Keep your feet on the ground

A Game of Dwarves is a fairly recent release from Swedish based Zeal Game Studio. Out of the upcoming games from Paradox Interactive last October I was most looking forward to A Game of Dwarves as it sounded like my kind of relaxing yet addictive game.

What sold Game of Dwarves to me back when I played it at Paradox's preview event was that it was a great time guzzler, now I don't have oodles of free time but it looked like the kind of time sucker that I would really love. Which couldn't be more true, in my first playthrough I spent about 10 hours playing nonstop and I could have kept going if I didn't need to make myself some dinner and perhaps turn my head away from the monitor.

My first annoyance with A Game of Dwarves was that I was under the impression that it had been developed to be something you could play on the side while performing other tasks. A casual experience that you could take part in while sat on the sofa on your laptop while watching the TV, chatting to friends or browsing the internet. However I found out straight away that to play it, you need a pretty good spec PC. Now of course all PC games are the same, it'll run differently on a different machine, my laptop isn't bad but the game stuttered in audio and lagged like crazy so I knew it was time to go over to the desktop. The main menu still had issues in the playback of audio but the game ran at a better framerate, except for when I was tunnelling through 40+ levels of ground, and that's on an i7. It's a real shame that I couldn't play it within the environment that I wanted, but that didn't stop me from enjoying it.

Visually at a glance a Game of Dwarves can by some seem a little dated, with their chubby Baku Baku style facial features, however it is a really beautiful game to look at and has a lot of character, once you get your mines decorated and spend a few hours with it you'll grow so attached to your dwelling that you don't want your current game to end. Plus if you're not a huge fan of fantasy you can pick up the Star Dwarves DLC to give it all a metallic sci-fi feel.

The Dwarves themselves at times had me almost pulling out my hair from fear, as every time I had an attack, be it from spiders, gnomes or even orcs I'd be on the edge as instead of casually digging I'd have to make sure my warriors are at the ready as I didn't want any of my innocent miners to meet an early demise. Sadly occasionally the AI didn't do what I wanted them to when sending out warriors, sometimes they'd walk in circles trying to get the enemy or sometimes they wouldn't attack when I tell them to, but luckily there was no real damage done, but it did make it a little tenser than I really wanted.

One thing I love and didn't get used to at first was the verticality of the game, at first I pretty much mined through all the walls in the area until I came to the boundary only ever really digging down a little, however I knew I had to. So as I started digging down and expanding out on each floor I got to see more and had more ownership over the underground. One addition that would make mining a lot easier though would be a transparent image or a hint to the floor below and ceiling above you when digging, as on multiple occasions I dug into other rooms without realising, or into other bits I'd expanded already. Meaning I'd connected locations without really wanting to occasionally blocking off the route I was trying to go. However I understand their reason for not informing you of what's below or above as then it's a surprise if you accidentally stumble into an orc's humble abode.

The main campaign is fairly long and gives a large amount or play time and when you're done with that you've got the custom game mode as well where you can create your own environment to play in by setting up the environment type and difficulty of the scenario or even alter the frequency of resources. Custom games in some cases are just as fun, if not more fun than the campaign as you've got all the time in the world to just build your own dwarven empire and personalise it to your hearts content.

A Game of Dwarves is just as enjoyable as it was when I first played it and it's just as addictive as something like Minecraft or Terraria in my eyes, even though you're just sending dwarves a few commands here and there. I may seem a little negative about the game, but all my issues are the tinniest of things that don't stop it from being an enjoyable game. I only wish it wasn't as demanding as it is for PC specifications...maybe I should invest in a new laptop?

four stars

A Game of Dwarves is available through Steam and other digital platforms for a very reasonable £7.99 and all the DLC packs are £3.99. If you're a fan of dwarves or mindless yet strategic digging then the game is perfect for you.