Dwarfs!? Reviews

TSA Score for this game: 473
Posted on 09 August 17 at 23:52
This review has 1 positive vote and 0 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Dwarfs?! [Review By Uzzbuzz]

Alright I’ve got my glass of wine, time to head to the tavern and see how Dwarfs?! is. Dwarfs is a top down strategy game in which you are the overseer to a community of dwarfs set on obtaining riches and being the most expansive community in the land. To do so you must direct your dwarfs into gathering as many minerals as possible while avoiding traps that may befall you.

Mechanics/Gameplay – At its base, Dwarfs is a management game. You are tasked with controlling two different types of dwarfs: diggers and warriors. The diggers will dig into blocks to get you more gold, occasionally revealing caves that could have treasure, water, lava, or even a boss enemy such as a shaman. The warriors are created to defend your base from enemy mobs and bosses. What makes this game so great is how it stays simple but allows a certain level of strategic complexity that is rare in such a simple design. As overseer, you are to keep your dwarfs safe, monitoring them always in case they hit water, lava, or enemies. If a cave of water or lava is exposed, it slowly spreads through the cave system until it reaches your main base, upon which the game is over. You are given the tools to prevent this, however. Using the solidify tool, you can turn minable dirt into an indestructible wall which is used to seal off caves; a useful tool as once you seal off a cave, it cannot accidentally be dug into by digger dwarfs, thus preventing a second assault of water or lava. The overseer is also given dynamite, which can be used to destroy dwarves standing on it, which is necessary to seal the tiles that are blocking the water or lava escaping., as it creates a pit for the fluid to flow into. As you expand, you can build outposts to train additional diggers/warriors to explore even further. Be careful, however, as the further you spread out all at once, the more likely you will open far too many hazards to deal with at once.

All this explains the arcade mode, which is just one of the few modes Dwarfs has to offer. Dwarfs also includes a campaign/challenge mode, to get you mastering specific skills, such as working at fast speeds, warrior efficiency, survival under dangerous conditions with limited money, and so on. There is also a tutorial so that you can learn the basics of the game.

Another mode is the carnival minigame, which is almost not worth mentioning but it’s a nice break from the regular game. In it you are given 10 axes to throw at the targets and the goal is to get a large combo for a high score. Short, 1-minute game but it was all right. As for the other modes, there’s a unique tower defense mode where your diggers make the paths that enemies come from, and then you defend. There is also a Rush and Dark mode which has increased speed and decreased visibility respectively. Finally, there’s a sandbox mode where you can create your own cave systems!

At its core, the mechanics are fluid, not too complicated, and contain enough complexity to keep you interested. I was not aware of any bugs during my gameplay experience. 8/10

Fun Factor – As someone who does not play a lot of strategy games, I did not go into this expecting too much, as I initially got it for the Killing Floor related achievement/weapon. Of course, starting the game means I had to complete it naturally, and I have to say it was a fun road to 100%. First starting out, I tried the tutorial to understand the basics, and promptly started a quick game on the easy difficulty. Of course, not knowing how to play very well, I didn’t make it very far, but I had fun.

Over the course of a few hours I was starting to get a lot better because the learning curve is well done. I thought I would be bad at the game but then after a few games I knew how to manage my dwarves a ton better and could deal with hazards as they cropped up.

I was not expecting to have so much fun with a game of this type, so I highly recommend trying it. 7.5/10

Graphics/Animation –
Cartoony graphics to match the cartoony feel that the developers put into the game. The map is bright and vibrant, the animations are smooth, but there is one issue. Less than ten minutes into an arcade game, the diggers are already so spread out that a max zoom out cannot capture them all. This means that you must keep dragging your mouse around to move the screen around the map to watch all your dwarves. This is cumbersome and not something you really want to be doing for an hour, so if there were keyboard map controls or a way to scroll around quicker, that would be very beneficial. Other than this, the game is visually appealing even six years after its release. Every hazard or reward is clearly identifiable and the alerts/achievement awareness system is done really well to let you know when you get certain challenges done or where a dwarf recently struck water/lava/etc. 6.5/10

Music/Sound – A lot of the time you will not even hear the music as it seems to often go to nothing when you are zoomed out far enough, which is where you will spend a lot of your time. To counter this, however, the sound effects are well done. The instant a hazard is in sight of a dwarf, you are alerted by sound accompanied by a visual bubble that you can click on to take you to where the hazard was discovered so that it can be dealt with promptly. This also works for treasure caves, as a distinguishably good sound effect plays so you know when you’re going to get a little bit more cash to spend. 5/10

Replayability – The core of your time is going to be spent in the arcade mode. The game is fun enough to just pick up and play for a bit every now and then, contributing to the replay value a lot. For example, you can simply play a 5-minute game and then go do other things. Or, if you have time, you can sit down and focus on a hardcore game for an hour, or maybe even try endless mode. Competing against yourself and others for top scores in each category is a satisfying experience though most people’s investment of the game seems to go away after 20 hours, which is not bad for a ‘short’ game. The challenges in Dwarfs?! have 3 stages: bronze, silver, and gold. The silver tier nets you the achievements, but for those who really want to get 100%, the gold tier is there for extra replayability and bragging rights. For example, the hardest achievement is for getting 500k score on the hardest difficulty, but the gold tier is for getting 1 million. 6/10

Level Design – What level design? Arcade mode is fully randomized with its placement of minerals to mine and caves to discover. What I can talk about though are the campaign levels. Of these, I believe only two are actually designed, as the other three are merely constraints placed on an arcade game. The first campaign mission is for defeating a bunch of enemies given only a few warriors; not so creative, but it was a fun mission. The second is interesting in that you are given three minutes to survive a lava and water onslaught. This one was designed in such a way that if you’re clever, you can use the water to block a majority of the lava, or possibly all of it. 4.5/10

Achievements – Wow what a variety. There are 29 achievements in Dwarfs!?, almost every single one covering a unique part of the game.

First off, there are nine achievements for the carnival minigame. Forget about these ones. The only one there that’s really an achievement is for getting 2500 score and then you can go never play the mode again (after quickly cleaning up the misc. achievements in it).

Then, there are cumulative achievements; these ones will be obtained naturally through just playing around with the game:
- Dig 25000 squares
- Have 40000 gold total
- Dig 1000 minerals
- Have 2500 diggers total
- Kill 30 bosses
- Instant seal 10 caves
- Discover 2000 caves

Then there are the achievements for achieving certain things in a single game:
- Have 25000 gold at once
- Die in less than 15 seconds
- Have 10 outposts with taverns
- Get a warrior to level 15
- Get a digger to level 15
- Survive a 60 minute game on normal or higher
- Lure a goblin into a hole
- Have 25 warriors at once

There is also an achievement for getting 2 stars (axes) on all 5 campaign challenges. Finally, there is a score challenge for each difficulty (does not stack): 500k on easy,normal,hard, and tedi-hardcore.
As you can see, these acheivements cover almost everything the game has to offer, excluding a few things such as defeating the hardest boss, or playing the tower defense/dark/fast modes. Nothing felt too grindy or overly unfair though, and I was motivated to not only get the silver medals for the achievements, but the golds as well. Says a lot about the quality of the game and the challenges designed. 8/10

+ Scottish Voice Acting
+ Excellent learning curve
+ Simple, but expansive gameplay
+ Audio cues work well

- Music is off a lot of the time
- Difficulty in moving around the map at later stages
- Few challenges in challenge mode

Overall Score: 6.5/10
Please log in to comment on this solution.