The Dwarves game is considered to be a “Story Driven Fantasy RPG” as they state on their Kickstarter page. The reason I choose to use their wording instead of my own is because I don’t think “awesome axe smasher/Orc slayer” is the idea they are trying to sell people on. From the first mission to the last you are immersed in a beautiful world filled with amazing stories, wonderful creatures, and incredible game play. This game blends some great old school game mechanics from old franchises we know and love (turn based travel, question choices, etc) with their own mix of new ones like the crowd combat system.
I didn’t know what I was getting myself into with The Dwarves as I hadn’t heard much about it. The reason behind that is I have never really followed the crowd funding area of games. I would like to add that because of this game, that has changed because I want to know what other gems I have missed by not at least paying attention to sites like Kickstarter that helped make this great game that turned out to be one of my favorite gaming experiences of 2016.
What made this game great:
Travel: Moving around the world is a lot of fun for someone who missed out on a lot of those old timie games. At its core, you basically have a turned base system all jacked up on Red Bull but with out the wings. You move a chess piece around annotating your party from spot to spot up to your desired space, one dot at a time on the map. The kicker is, when you move, so does the board. Merchants move from town to town and enemies move and attack cities. What I really like about this method is that a small number icon pops up when the enemy is attacking cities/towns, allowing you to pick which one to save first. I was able to get one of the achievements for saving three cities in a row and not losing any of them, which was one of those “eureka” moments for me in the game.
Story and Characters: I have to put these together as they are more inter woven than any game I have played on a next gen console. This story is one of the best I have played this year and one of the top 5 I have played on the Xbox one since launch. The story isn’t build just off of the characters and their struggle to overcome. It does more than that, by making connections in every area, fighting, talking to AI, interacting with the environment. This story is built to help you dive into these rich characters and beautiful landscapes but with your own personality inside. Want to be a jerk, go for it. Want out of conversations, cool, want to search every nook and cranny of a level and find more of the story, yes! Want to skip it, also an option. You aren’t forced to play a certain way, instead you are guided to play the way you want to and create your own experience with out being penalized for it. As you follow a young dwarf who is on mission to deliver goods for the mage he works for, you find yourself making the narrative/telling the story you want in The Dwarves.
The mission takes some big twists and turns for the young dwarf, but this leads us to where the game excels at its highest to me, the characters. Everyone you control in your party and even the AI you meet have their own personalities that I find myself replaying, just to see what would happen if I changed a choice. I haven’t had that feeling in ages (not since Mass Effect 2 to be honest, I love you Tali) The characters are really well thought out, have some great lines, and the voice acting for everyone was really well done. I found myself falling in love with the characters so much I went to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kingartgames/the-dwarves-a-new-storydriven-fantasy-rpg and was looking at donating to The Dwarves Kickstarter to see if I can get my hands on that collectors edition that comes with the book and more tails of these characters. Depth, humor, hero’s. All things I love in a character and this game has them across the board
Crowd Combat: The fighting took me a few matches/levels to understand but once you get it, you get it. Switching between characters has to be done quickly and with a strategy in mind. Certain missions you have to wipe out the horde and you can get away with some mistakes there. Others you need to use characters in the right way at the right time. For example, if you need to destroy barricaded doors on burning houses in a certain amount of time, instead of fighting each orc, it may be better to charge those barricades with your strongest fighter and protect him with the others.
What needs some work:
Flushed out tutorial: The tutorial is well done, but the fighting mechanics and how to use them needed a little more. My main issue when playing it was that the skills and how to use them weren’t explained as well as I thought they could be. This added step would make the next few early missions more enjoyable. However, one could say that the intro mission was a basic tutorial and that the rest came later, I just felt that more could of been done to show the relationships between the hero’s powers and using them to help you in a fight.
Customization: More swords, better armor, cool beard stylization. All things I want, all things I need, sadly all things this game doesn’t do.
Quests tracker upgrade: Main issue is that the quests stay lit even if you beat them. A way to cycle between complete and on going would be great.
Loading times: Though once you are in an area, the issue is gone but those loading times in game have taken me as little as 15 seconds to as high as a minute and change.
As I finished the game a battery of emotions flooded me. I was so enthralled by all I could do, the great variety of mission types (fighting, search and destroy, platforming, and more that I just had to sit back and stare at the screen, wondering what I could do different in my next play through and what I was going to do to get more from this franchise (working on getting the books now).
This game is the Hobbit game Tolkien fans have wanted their whole lives. I know that it is cliché to compare a beloved mega franchise like the Hobbit to the Dwarves, but the story, characters, and experience is on that level in my eyes, yes I said that the story was on the same level as one of the biggest literary blockbusters of all time and if you don’t believe me play it and see. I will stand by what I said and say that this story, these characters, this world, and the fear of making the wrong choice that this game gives you, help make it one of my favorite games of the year. I hope they are able to get this out to the masses and I have already bought three copies to give away on the site and/or to our fans on twitter. I’m not doing it just cause I love you guys, I am doing it because it is just one of those games that everyone should play in my opinion. The biggest suggestion I will give to those of you who play this game, save often, don’t be scared to start over, and enjoy the ride. Thanks for talking the time to read my review and I hope this helped you want to play some video games.