Dungeon Lords Collector's Edition Review

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Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:DreamCatcher Interactive
Developer:Heuristic Park
Release Date:2005-05-05
  • Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
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Dungeon Lords uses a third-person perspective. You move your character by pressing the WASD keys, you move the camera by moving the mouse, you attack with your weapon (or spell) by clicking on the left mouse button, and you block with your shield by holding down the right mouse button. It's a control scheme similar to ones used by countless other role-playing games, and it's still in use because it works pretty well.

What makes Dungeon Lords a little different -- and better -- is that you're rarely confronted with a one-on-one duel. You almost always find yourself attacked by groups of up to eight enemies, and that means you can't just stand there and click away to kill things. You have to dodge around and maneuver for good angles and sometimes run away to a better vantage point. That makes the combat very satisfying, because you have to work for your kills.

It also helps that the enemies are interesting, and that they attack you in different ways. For example, new in the Collector's Edition is the (mushman.) It's a mushroom-shaped enemy that attacks in packs when you're in swamps or near a lake. If you get too close to one, then it can spray out a poison gas that will cause you to choke and gasp (and not be able to attack) for a while. So for these guys it's best to stay away from them and hit them with ranged attacks or powerful spells. Meanwhile, if you're attacked by wolves, they just use a standard melee attack, and so you might just want to go toe-to-toe with them. Other enemies zap you with ranged attacks, or they float just out of melee range, or they curse you with debilitating spells. In Dungeon Lords, you have to pay attention to your enemies so that you know what works against them, and so that you can kill them quickly, which is important because the engine spawns enemies all the time, and you don't want to be facing off against a banshee's freezing spells only to be attacked from behind by a quartet of mummies.

Because Dungeon Lords focuses on combat, it doesn't really give you any meaningful role-playing options. People simply talk at you and tell you what to do, and then you have to do it. For most quests (including the quests in the Collector's Edition), the objective is straightforward: go somewhere and kill something and maybe pick up the object that it was guarding. If you're looking for a game where you can be good or evil, or choose how to complete quests, or trade witty banter with your companions, then Dungeon Lords isn't the game for you.

Really, the only place where you get to make decisions in the game is during character development. Dungeon Lords uses sort of an odd system where you're allowed to select five classes for your character. In some games, that would make your character godly, but in Dungeon Lords the classes aren't all that exciting. Other than the subjective benefit to being a (samurai) or a (lord,) classes simply give you a learning bonus to a set of skills, and sometimes they give you a new skill distinct to the class. For example, if you select the lord class, you get a learning bonus to all weapon and armor skills, making it easier to equip high level weapons and armor, and you also get the special (crushing blow) skill, which gives you a chance to stun enemies.