Title: War for the Overworld
Developer: Subterranean Games
Release date: Out Now
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It was back at the turn of the Millenium. Everyone realised that the Y2K bug was nothing to worry about and this here gamer was getting accustomed to a new PC that his father picked up from the local computer shop down the road. Alongside this purchase was a bundle pack of PC games that boxed several CDs of games that are now considered classics. There was System Shock 2, Wing Commander Prophecy and then… Dungeon Keeper 2.
DK2 really caught my attention for a number of reasons. Its sense of comedy and freedom to create, all whilst taking on the role of a bad guy (something that isn’t as common in games as it should be if I’m honest). After hours upon hours of gameplay and reaching the end of the main campaign, I was greeted with this video at the end:
So, I waited. This video seemed like a clear commitment at the time for Bullfrog to make a sequel to the game, but it never came. Bullfrog eventually became defunct and Peter Molyneux went on to work on other projects. This created a huge gap for a group of passionate fans within the modding community to continue holding the torch aloft for a game that could provide the same(or better) experience that DK2 did.
After a successful Kickstarter and Early Access campaign, War for the Overworld has now been unleashed for aspiring Underlords to set out in their quest for domination of the realm.
As you’ll probably guess by now, War For the Overworld is a Dungeon Keeper game in all but name. This spiritual successor to the game (NOT that atrocity of a mobile game, I hasten to add) tasks you with the construction of a dungeon to attract an unholy army that can devastate the heroes that cower behind their shiny underground fortresses.
Many of the rooms and minion types will trigger a moment of nostalgia as they draw parallels to the tasks that their ancestors enjoyed. In War for the Overworld, various rooms attract specific creatures to your dungeon. With units ranging from the stalwart Gnarling to the tricky Succubus, there are a total of 22 different types of minions out there.
Where the game departs from its predecessor in this field is how certain minions are attracted. In DK2, most appeared via portals. Whilst this remains true for some minions, others are attracted by various other means. The Beast Den attracts minions like the Oculus and the Skarg that exist only to fight. The perk is that they don’t require lodgings or a wage, however your ability to control them is greatly reduced.
One particularly favourite minion of mine is the Chunder for one simple reason. When he engages in battle, he practically chunders everwhere. Big style.
With that big mouth of his, his volleys of projectile chunder certainly travel wide…
When he’s not emptying his stomach towards his foes, he toils away at the Foundry within your dungeon. There, he can craft traps and doors to help defend your dungeon against any wanted visitors.
But perhaps one of my most favourite things about the game is the fact that as a stretch goal, the devs were able to hire Richard Ridings to provide the narration for the game. For those who are unaware of the name, Mr Ridings is the selfsame person that delivered those sultry words of wisdom back in Dungeon Keeper 2. His performance in War for the Overworld is absolutely sublime, and continues to make me giggle at every opportunity.
Pro tip: sit idle for a little moment and see what your lord and master says.
As Mendechaus, Mr Ridings will guide you through a plethora of story missions, each relatively chunky in game length. Some missions can last in excess of 30-45 minutes, sometimes even more. Thankfully a saving feature is present, but much like the games of old it’s a manual affair. No auto-saves for you, folks!
As far as modes go beyond the campaign, there is a Skirmish and a Multiplayer mode. However at time of writing these have been temporarily held back from public consumption due to some bugs being discovered. A Survival mode is also present, which is currently at the prototype stage at time of writing.
Sadly, this mark of incompleteness runs through into several noticeable aspects of the game. During my playtime I experienced missing animations, placeholders and strings that are useful for a dev to see but were not translated into a user-friendly fashion. In fairness however, every time I’ve logged on to my PC since the game launched there has been a fresh patch update delivering fixes. Bearing in mind that the game was made by a small team of developers and not a larger team that EA could have funded a ways back in the DK2 days, their efforts in getting everything fixed is hugely commendable.
With all this in mind, it felt like War for the Overworld could have done with at least another month or two of QA to iron out the last bits and bobs to make it as perfect as it could be. Once those itty bitty bugs have all been squished, then I wouldn’t hesitate to insist that you grab this game.
I still recommend that it’s worth a look now, as the core ingredients of the game are certainly there to give veteran Dungeon Keepers and aspiring Underlords plenty to enjoy. I would however deliver caution on the polish that is continually being made even as you read this article.
Should you decide to pick the game up relatively soon from launch, the folks at Subterranean have opted for an alternative route to the controversial ‘pre-order DLC’ quirk that most games contain these days. With War for the Overworld there aren’t any, however if you buy the game before a certain date (May 2 2015), then you get a free DLC pack which contains a mini-campaign and an extra map.
It’s a really neat idea, and something that I feel should be encouraged. The onus on buying DLC then falls down to your opinions of the game once you’ve sat down and got to grips with it, instead of goading you into making an early purchase that you might otherwise regret. It’s a model that I hope other developers will take a look at. Regarding other DLC, Subterranean do have plans to continue evolving the game, once all those bugs are squished of course.
As a throwback to that game that I loved all those years ago, War for the Overworld was an amazing trip down nostalgia lane whilst adding in several new ideas to the mix. With a little bit more work that I’m certain those devs are Subterranean are doing, this game is set to be quite the epic. Once it reaches that state of solidity, it definitely has the guts in it to challenge the game that inspired it.
Of course, once the dungeon’s been furnished a bit better with all those amenities that it requires, like a right good tavern to chug down the grog with your minions. After all, they’ll need a spot to spend their hard earned gold!
What Rocks! :)
- It’s more than an ample substitute for that DK2 sequel I’ve been waiting for all these years.
- New minions and rooms offer fresh options in creating that perfect dungeon.
- The performance of Richard Ridings (and the rest of the voice cast, if I’m honest) is simply superb.
- Chunky campaign missions and incoming modes and DLC offer plenty of longevity
What Sucks :(
- Could do with a bit of brushing up and bug squishing, although patches are being churned out at an insane rate.
- Some modes were locked out at launch, however that seems more of an ‘Early Access’-ism more than anything else.
- Needs more Disco Inferno
War For the Overworld is rated PEGI 12 for fantasy violence and bad language. It’s certainly a good fit for young teens and above, however caution should be observed for those below that rating. Granted, there’s a lot less in the way of offending content compared to other games out there, however there’s always a good reason for the age rating that is deployed.