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Dungeon Lords Review

publisher: DreamCatcher
developer: Heuristic Park
genre: RPG

PIII 1000, 64MB RAM, 400MB HDD, 64MB video card
ESRB rating: T

release date: Apr 20, 05
» All About Dungeon Lords on ActionTrip

Dungeon Lords is a fantasy action RPG by D.W. Bradley. That's one way of putting it. Another way would be to say that Dungeon Lords is a very sinister and subtle way for the Illuminati to screw with our minds and make us go insane. Seriously, is gaming about enduring games or enjoying them? If it's about enduring games, then either D.W. Bradley or myself have to get a gold medal. I've endured for long enough, and he's made me suffer for it like a true champion of producing games that make you suffer like a 2nd century Christian.

After hours spent on this third-person action RPG, I have finally decided I could not endure it any longer, so I opted to use trainers and cheats. I thought, "Well, yeah, the game is frustrating as all hell, but I'll make myself very powerful and I'll breeze through it," right? Wrong. That didn't work either. The damn trainers cannot help the invalid that is my elf character.

The game is insanely difficult, with dozens of spawning monsters that will come at you from all possible angles, surrounding you and making you unable to run or hide. Once you die eventually, you will be able to resurrect with the press of the "R" key. However, this will come at the unfortunate expense of actually losing character stats. By the time I reached the first town, my character had something like -132 Strike and minus-one-hundred-something everything else, because I kept dying, of course, at the hands of the countless spawning goblins. But then why didn't I simply save my progress and load the game before I got killed? The designers must've thought this would be too easy, so they excluded a quick load option, making you actually exit the game and then load the position every time from the main screen.

The frustration of this decision can only be matched by the completely uninspired and confusing level design, which made me rue the day I ever started playing this game. I kept wandering through poorly lit hallways that seemed to have been cut and pasted to make one larger level map. And then imagine my frustration when at the end of the starting level, I couldn't even defeat a rat in one-on-one combat, let alone a huge battle troll. Yep, due to my unfortunate lack of l33t action RPG skills, I died a zillion times, lowering the stats of my character to, well, "below rat level" obviously.

I did manage to reach the town in the end by catching a few "lucky" breaks. Oh, yes... The enemy AI is so stupid that you can easily trick them into killing their buddies by simply making sure the melee fighters chasing you are in the way of the spell casters who are trying to fry your ass. Or you could lure them to a door and then activate the door lock; like sliding doors in shopping malls, the wooden doors will keep trying to close and at the same time, keep slamming into the unfortunate enemies trying to get through. The whole scene looks utterly stupid, but it's fun in a way. Often, the enemy would get stuck on doorframes too, at which point I would switch to my bow and arrow and stick arrows in them until they were dead. Priceless AI.

The only problem, of course, was that my character's stats were now horribly low, and when I would finally level, I would actually get a chance to improve those stats, bringing them up to like a fraction of what they were at the start of the game. Ironically, and partially because of the way I played it (blame it on my dumb ass if you like), Dungeon Lords is the only RPG that I know of that actually makes your character lousier as you progress through the game. The idea itself was possibly not that moronic, but the way that the whole thing plays out, and bearing in mind the idiotic way in which you need to load the saved games, it's just frustrating beyond belief for the player. Replaying the game so that you could get it right makes me cringe more than picturing Michael Moore naked.

I could even live with the stick figure animation of my character, and I might have forgiven the horribly tedious and confusing level design for the sake of an engaging storyline (which I never got to unravel, as I haven't played the game enough). However, the actual game mechanics were so poor and so alien to me that I felt like smashing my keyboard rather than playing on. I simply could not do it, people.

In a word, I hate this game. It is horrible crap. Stay away from it, and if you see it in the bargain bin, pour some gasoline over the bin and burn it. Who knows, you might burn some meaningless Sims expansions with it. Then again, The Sims are gaming heaven compared to the hell of playing Dungeon Lords. Avoid this game like the plague.


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