The Dwarves, from developer King Art Games, is a new tactical real-time strategy RPG. With an overhead view, players can swap between different playable characters and give them commands to carry out. Set in the fantasy world of the 2003 novel, The Dwarves follows the tale of a young dwarf as he travels the land of Girdlegard meeting friends and defeating foes.
Our hero, Tungdil Goldhand, is a scholarly dwarven blacksmith who has never met another of his kind. A mage, or magi as they are called, who looks upon Tungdil as his own son, sends him out on an errand to return an artifact from a friend. Getting the chance to go out on his own and possibly meet others of his race, Tungdil grabs his things and hits the road. Along the way, Tungdil will meet some great fellow adventurers and discover what he is truly made of and what it means to be a dwarf.
The story in The Dwarves is fantastic and made me want to read the books. As far as RPG’s go, it was one of the best I have seen in some time. The characters are well done and interesting. The dialogue is fast paced and keeps the story moving. The voice work of the narrator and actors is good, and music is orchestrated and keeps to the heroic fantasy theme. Choices you make along the way can open up side quests, but also end your adventure quickly. It’s almost as if the game is forced into keeping with the story of the books to a degree this way. Unfortunately that’s about all the good I can say about The Dwarves.
My initial thought from seeing the trailer was that The Dwarves would be like the old Baldur’s Gate games, but the gameplay in the The Dwarves is more MOBA-like, where the characters have special abilities that can be unlocked and assigned to buttons on the controller. Players control the different characters one at a time and can swap between them during combat. You can pause to do this or just let things roll in real time. When not using an ability, the characters will just auto attack as you move them toward monsters. Characters you are not in control of do NOT use abilities, though, unless you make them, this is a major flaw in my opinion and frustrated me to no end.
The biggest issue I had was controlling the camera properly during combat scenarios, it’s very clunky and zooming in and out all the time. You cannot pan out over the whole map and are forced to be centered on the character you are controlling. This can make finding the objective in a map very difficult and led to some frustrating time having to reload and try again after waves and waves of monsters killed me after I couldn’t find the objective.
The characters are great but I wish I could of customized them more. There are only amulets and potions and they are very rare I found. The graphics in the The Dwarves are pretty pedestrian, nothing fancy; the cut scenes are well done, but I did see lots of slow down when things would get hairy and there were lots of monsters in combat. At about 10 hours play time, The Dwarves is a tad too short for the price tag of $39.99, in my opinion. In that time, I found myself very frustrated with the constant switching of characters during the clunky combat and then dying and having to restart the entire encounter with no option to pick another spot on the world map.
As much as I loved the world and characters, The Dwarves is a missed opportunity. Too many bad development choices in gameplay, camera angles, and short play time with little, to no replay value. I hope that in the future another attempt is made to make a game based on the books and things can be improved, I would definitely give it a shot for the story alone.
The Dwarves is available now for Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC. This review is based on a copy provided for review purposes.
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