And there's little opportunity to be creative in terms of how you build your dungeon, because the upgrades are stacked in a very specific way to wring as many resources out of you as possible. To build a new type of room, first you must upgrade your dungeon heart to the requisite level, which in turn necessitates the upgrading of your treasury and storage rooms so they can hold sufficient rock and gold, all the while spending gems so this process doesn't involve a week's worth of twiddling your thumbs. Finally you must buy the room itself. Depending on how far you've struggled through the game, this may take another week of waiting. For the final room, the torture chamber, the price is 2,000,000 Stone. To put this into perspective, you might earn 1,000 stone in a day, unless you upgrade your quarry, which costs more gold.
This preposterously cynical and disingenuous free-to-play model is hideous enough. What's far worse is that the game underneath isn't worth your time or your money. The aforementioned "Raids" you can embark on involve attacking another dungeon or defending your own. In both cases interaction is limited to placing down minions and watching them do their work, and casting a few spells such as blowing up walls or turning enemies into chickens to assist your minions in their goal. To be fair to Mythic, this is precisely how the original Dungeon Keeper played. The difference in the new version is, these missions are completely separated from the building of your dungeon, locked away in a different menu altogether. Consequently, they feel completely arbitrary. It's like spending an afternoon building a train set only to discover none of your trains fit on the tracks, so you're forced to play with them on the carpet like a toddler.
Dungeon Keeper's biggest crime, however, is that your dungeon is a robotic husk, a conveyor belt of upgrades with no life or autonomy of its own. Everything exists only to unlock access to something else. Your hatchery doesn't actually feed your creatures, it unlocks the ability to hire more of them. Your training room doesn't train your creatures, it unlocks the ability to level them up. Your trolls don't build traps in the workshop and your imps don't carry those traps to your desired location. There are no fights between spiders and flies, no spats involving skeletons and bile demons. It is empty, hollow, devoid of almost all personality.
This grinning imposter tries much harder to resemble Dungeon Keeper on the surface, forcing an attempt at humour and asking you to slap your imps once in a while. Yet even on this most superficial level, the vibrant colours and silly remarks lack the darkness, the edge, that made the original so unique and compelling. In fact, the only thing Mythic have got right is the sound. The Horned Reaper's voice is spot on, new rooms thump down in a satisfying manner, and the scurrying footsteps and scraping pickaxes of the imps bring back memories of better times. But that is it, the only warming candle of hope in this blizzard of excrement.
Mythic originally described their Dungeon Keeper reboot as a "twisted take" on the series.
They were absolutely right, although in nothing like the way intended. The biggest irony of all is Dungeon Keeper truly is evil. But it isn't the sort of evil that speaks with a deep, booming voice and looks good in black leather, it's the kind that hides behind a friendly smile and a suit and tie, that shakes your hand with one arm and steals your wallet with the other. It's a con-man, playing on your assumptions and preconceptions in order to bleed you dry. Be afraid. Be very afraid.