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Dungeon Keeper

For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone

Not really

Product: Dungeon Keeper | Developer: Mythic Entertainment | Publisher: EA Mobile | Format: iPad | Genre: Casual, Retro, Strategy | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Dungeon Keeper iPad, thumbnail 1
My mum used to say, 'never judge a game against what you want it to be - judge it for what it is.' Or she would have done, if she spoke in pithy one-liners or knew anything about games.

Still, her invented words ring especially true here. Dungeon Keeper isn't Dungeon Keeper, and all the gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands in the world isn't going to change that.

What it is, is a well polished Clash of Clans clone with a cartoonishly grim aesthetic and a free-to-play system that certainly isn't the worst I've encountered.

It might not be as in-depth or tactical as the game it borrows a name and little else from, but it's still a reasonably enjoyable way to waste a couple of minutes here and there.

Dungeons and dragons

The main chunk of the game is spent tidying up your dungeon. It's a dank and unpleasant place, and it's your job to make it worse. So you'll build traps and add doors, put in cannon emplacements, and cut out chunks of stone to plop down new rooms.

All of this is done by your minions - pudgy little pink imps that scurry around with pickaxes and other tools to hammer and smash things into the right place. The more of these little imps you have, the more you can get done at once.

There are other types of minions too, who play offensive and defensive roles in your subterranean lair. This cadre of trolls, wizards, skeletons, and assorted demons are essentially your army, and you summon them from the heartstone that sits in the middle of your dungeon.

You need to manage three different resources to succeed. Stones and gold are used to build and buy, while mana is drawn from a dark library and used to power your spells.

These turn invaders into chickens, walls into explosives, and perform plenty of other unpleasant actions on the unsuspecting interlopers.

Wait timers

The other part of the game is spent invading and protecting. There's a campaign that sees you sending your lumbering beasts to other underground holdouts, with the promise of riches if you manage to destroy the other dungeon keeper's infrastructure.

The various monsters under your command all have rooms and defences they'll target first. You spawn in one of the entrance rooms, then rampage through the dungeon, smashing things until you've either taken apart everything there, or your invaders have fallen to the defences.

IAPs explained
There are a few currencies in the game, but the only one you can buy with real-life cash is gems.

These come in bundles ranging from £2.99 / $4.99 for 500, all the way up to £69.99 / $99.99 for 14,000.

You're given a pretty hefty chunk to start with, and if you're frugal, you can get through without having to spend anything.
They're not what you might call the most interactive engagements, but choosing which monsters you're taking, and what order you drop them into battle, means you've got some say in the outcome of the dust-ups.

Your defensive engagements follow a similar pattern, except this time it's your own traps and tricks that are being tested. It's not just where you put your traps you need to think about, but the position of every room in your complex as well.

Poorly kept

The game is loaded with wait timers and currencies, and while they're annoying, the slow drip of the game means that you're not too bothered about laying your iPad down for a bit while your imps build a new trap or dig out a new mine.

It's not the perfect use of the licence by any means, and plenty will find that the IAPs grate against the very fabric of their soul, but as casual free-to-play base-builders go, Dungeon Keeper isn't half bad.

No, it isn't Dungeon Keeper, and if you come to it expecting anything of the sort then you're going to leave disappointed. But if you don't mind some thinly sliced casual play, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Dungeon Keeper
Reviewer photo
Harry Slater | 31 January 2014
It's not Dungeon Keeper, but Dungeon Keeper has enough going for it that it's worth a punt
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Show: Latest | Oldest
Feb 2014
Post count:
@Wizardling | 08:14 - 18 February 2014
A whole day to mine one freaking wee square??? Hundreds of dollars to have anything like a reasonable chance vs other players who have obviously done so? This is pay to win and pay not to wait at it's worst, and the reviewer doesn't even acknowledge how absurdly expensive this game's IAPs are. Give me a full, unbroken game for a decent upfront cost of up to $25 (considering the type of game and small scale of it). That I might've paid for, had it been an actual Dungeon Keeper game, not just an attempt to redo Clash of Clans pay to win style. Now EA won't get a single cent from me.
Feb 2014
Post count:
Andrew Paulson | 19:57 - 16 February 2014
I applaud this reviewer for putting out a sound appraisement of what this game has to offer. No, it doesn't require that you empty your wallet to play. That's just if you can't stand waiting for anything. DK is a great little app for when I'm going to work. I tell my imps to mine a couple loose gem squares, and when I'm off my shift, it's taken care of.
Remove the nostalgia disappointment and demand for instant gratification, and you'll find yourself actually having a decent time. Hell, it's -free-. I've logged over a dozen hours of gameplay, haven't paid a cent, and enjoyed myself the whole way.
Oct 2013
Post count:
Ryan Kaspy | 04:42 - 15 February 2014
This reviewer must have been playing a different game.. This pathetic excuse for a game has the same gameplay as 1000 other pay2win grindfests just with a Dungeon Keeper skin. RPG elements are gone. After you raid an enemy, you lose any surviving minions.. Since when has that ever happened in DK? How can I get attached to my minions when they disappear after I use them? They're just pawns you pay to churn out faster. Everything that is important is on 24hr timers so basically unless you pay, forget about having any gameplay at all. This game is pathetic and the reviewer should be ashamed of themselves.
Feb 2014
Post count:
Adrian von | 11:17 - 9 February 2014
"... judge it for what it is."

That's what we are doing. And it's terrible! You can NOT play it unless you have 1) money, 2) patience of tapping two things every 4-24 hours.

This is not a game!
Feb 2014
Post count:
@Scrumpmonkey | 20:18 - 8 February 2014
"You're given a pretty hefty chunk to start with, and if you're frugal, you can get through without having to spend anything."

This statement is untrue. The game is basically unplayable without sinking a LOT of real money into it.

Avoid this game at all costs.
Feb 2014
Post count:
@stuarthoughton | 16:50 - 6 February 2014
Could you give us an idea of how you worked around the IAPs? Did it involve a time machine?
Aug 2010
Post count:
Funem | 11:31 - 3 February 2014
@harryslater. To be honest its a great game struggling to get out. They could honestly slash the wait timers and make a lot of people very happy and still make money if by IAP's. Four hours could easily be 20min, one day could be 2hours

I wanted to dig three squares and it would take me days unless I wanted to spend real world money that equated to
Feb 2014
Post count:
@hayes_maker | 13:57 - 2 February 2014
That's enough shamelessly biased EA fanboy's opinion... Let's see Hitler's reaction to the game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvFWldJ5f6E
Apr 2013
Post count:
@harryslater | 09:02 - 1 February 2014
@pistols It's actually a pretty common misconception that reviewers get free currency to try out freemium games. In all that time I've been reviewing for PG I've never received any.

That said, I didn't spend a penny of my own money on DK, and wouldn't have done either. I honestly think the f2p system here is easier to 'game' than most I've seen. It's a hindrance, for sure, but one you can work around quite easily.
Sep 2013
Post count:
Summer LaRose | 02:52 - 1 February 2014
I didn't like it because I expected a game that was actually like Dungeon Keeper. The most major part of Dungeon Keeper is luring in Heroes to your dungeon - which this one completely throws out. You're not really the "bad" person because all you do is fight other Dungeon Keepers and their evil minions.

Even some simple cheesy Dungeon Keeper knockoff that was on FaceBook a bit let you attack towns and then the people and heroes would come retaliate against your dungeon and invade it (*and* you could fight against the other keepers too, like this cheesy pretend Dungeon Keeper has as it's only option).

It doesn't matter that you have a dungeon, all you do is fight and invade other keepers (even in the single player content). There isn't much content either and almost nothing has changed in it's very long development layover "limited test" area time.

I'm not into Clash of Clans type games where you just fight other people's little setup back and forth over and over all the time - and this one is pretty limited in options for the most part.

Maybe if I didn't know what Dungeon Keeper was to begin with, I wouldn't have been quite as disappointed playing this. I still may have been disappointed, just to a lesser extent.

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