KeeperRL preview

Written by Jake Tucker

April 4, 2016 // 4:05 p.m.

Tags: #dungeon-keeper #dwarf-fortress #early-access #keeperrl #roguelike

KeeperRL preview

It's as you expand that you start to run into issues. Continual attacks on your dungeon will wear you down, but trying to attack the enemies too early is a particularly creative method of suicide as you march waves of minions into a meat grinder and lose all of their gear.

Most errors will be your fault though, because the UI tells you everything you need to know fairly quickly, and is really good at presenting the information that's most relevant to you. Friendly factions, enemy factions and even who's likely to attack you and why are all shown clearly and easily, while building rooms and digging tunnels is wonderfully easy. Once the game clicks with you, it's all effortless.

There's a certain amount of strategy that you pick up in your repeated failures, and your efforts get more and more successful. Eventually, you start to succeed, and that's where you see one of the better tricks KeeperRL has up its sleeve.

Starting KeeperRL you get the choice of playing either as a Keeper or an Adventurer. I've stayed quiet about the adventure part so far; the game is about playing a Dungeon Keeper, why would you want to play as an Adventurer?

KeeperRL preview

Here's the thing. The very moment a Keeper "completes" their world and takes out all major threats, the entire map is uploaded to the internet. Anyone selecting Adventurer can raid these dungeons, playing them as a roguelike. There's no way to search through these yet, just a very rough looking list saying how many have tried to run the dungeon and how many have died in the attempt.

This should improve later in early access, but for now, it means finding your friend's dungeons is impossible. Nothing stops you from playing your own. I wonder if it's a weird sort of narcissism, barrelling through your own dungeons trying to outwit yourself. I've not managed to beat one of my own dungeons yet, often falling foul to the labyrinthine designs I plot out deep into the mountains.

KeeperRL preview

If the game achieves popularity, I think there's going to be a keen audience of people making dungeons specifically to catch out unwary adventurers. I like the idea of building not just for efficiency, but also for survivability, trying not just to survive hordes of enemies (who will blunder blindly into your traps) but also on living, thinking, opponents who will probe your defences and try to use them against you.

It's still early day for KeeperRL, but it's showing a lot of promise. If you've been craving some old-school strategy and you're not too worried about getting your hands dirty with an early access game, why not give it a go?
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