By – Nicholas Krawchuk
A Turn-Based Dwarf Treasure Hunting Simulator
Dwarves have always been one of my favourite fantasy races. I’ve always found their passion for gold, ale, and all related things somewhat amusing. In Delve Deeper, a turn-based strategy game by indie developer Lunar Giant, you command a small team of dwarf miners, fighters, and scouts as they fight goblins, dragons, gnomes and other competing mining companies to get the most treasure. In the game you will dig (delve) deeper and deeper into the mountain until you get to the absolute bottom where the very best treasure is hidden, protected by dragons and armies of every single creature you can imagine. Essentially, the player who gets the most treasure wins.
WE WANT YOU For Dwarf Digging Co.
In Delve Deeper, you are a dwarf working for your king. Dwarves, more specifically, their royalty, love gold. So who else to obtain said gold but you? Beyond that, there isn’t much story to the game besides the map descriptions which each give a good idea of why you are on a map and what creatures inhabit the mountain. The lack of any actual story mode is a little disappointing but it isn’t the type of game that needs a complex story to be playable. The tutorial level explains your motivation and besides that, there is constant dialogue from the king either making fun of the teams or showing his enthusiasm about the treasures you are finding for him deep in the mountain.
Those Dwarves Love Their Gold
You start by picking your five team members from the miner who mines, the scout who scouts or the warrior who…wars. The game is played on a map of hexagonal tunnel tiles, many of which are covered by dirt, stone, or deep, depending on how far underground you have explored. Before each turn starts, you get to choose a tunnel tile and place it on one of the covered spaces. After this, you take your turn by choosing an action for all five of your dwarves. You can leave them in front of a mineral and they will mine, an enemy and they will fight, or your base and they will sell everything in their possession. When you fill your bags with gold, gems. and mithril you have to return to your base or an underground store to sell your hard earned minerals for points. There are relics in treasure chests which reward you (or in some cases penalize you) large sums of money, along with some stat bonuses. Defeating monsters will also sometimes reward you with piles of minerals.
The combat is all automatic and can be against competing dwarves or monsters in the mountain. Each enemy on one team gets to take a turn whacking one on the opposing team and then they get to do the same back until all on one side are defeated. The combat system is alright; it would be a little bit tedious to have another thing to manage while you worry about where to place each dwarf and whether your competition is planning to come steal your treasure. However, it would be nice to see a little variety in combat. There are many different types of creatures to fight but they all just keep whacking until something dies. Some different moves in combat, or even being able to strategically pick targets would go a long way.
The turn limit can often add to the difficulty of a game in a somewhat frustrating manner; some games are so short that by the time you manage to find some of the more valuable treasures, there is no way to get back to your base or an Ooogler quick enough to sell it. The game’s AI is capable of strategy and can be a bit of a challenge to defeat. The multiplayer is local only and although local multiplayer is an element missing all too often from PC games, it would be nice to be able to play against friends online.
Many Enemies, One Mountain
The 2D pixel art is a good recreation of more retro art styles. All the sprites and the backgrounds in the mine look really nice and are very detailed. For the most part the animation is smooth though there are a few that could use a little bit of an upgrade. One problem is that aside from the large assortment enemy sprites, there is little variety in the levels. All of the levels feature the same mountain that you tunnel into to find the same backgrounds within. Some diversity among the tiles would keep the game looking fresher after playing many matches. The main problem with the graphics is that you cannot change the resolution, so if you switch to fullscreen mode you will be stuck with black borders around the screen.
There is a bit more variety in the music than in the art. Some of the music sounds modern and electronic while some of it was extremely retro. Lemmings came to mind a couple times while I was listening to the music and it is fits the atmosphere perfectly. The soundtrack goes well with the relaxing nature of the game though after a while of looping, it may irritate some players. The sounds in the game can also get annoying after listening to the same ones over and over again.
A Strategy Title For Non-Strategy Gamers
Delve Deeper is a very addictive game, with a few achievable steps from being great. It has the ability to pull in gamers who both love and hate strategy games with its easy to learn, difficult to master mechanics. It’s one of those games where you start playing in the early evening and quit at some point in the early morning wondering where those hours of your life went. All the game is missing is more variety, some sort of story mode or at least motivation to replay maps to keep people playing. The game is being constantly updated by Lunar Giant so many issues will be fixed at some point in the future.
Delve Deeper Summary
- Time Played – 8 Hours
- Widescreen Support – No
- 5.1 Audio – No
- Bugs – None
- DRM – Steamworks
- Control Scheme – Only a mouse needed
- Game Acquisition Method – A gift from Lunar Giant
ValueScore – Is It Worth Your Money?
For the modest price of $4.99 via Steam, Delve Deeper is well worth the price of admission. If you are usually terrible at strategy games, I would consider this a good learning platform for more advanced titles. It is capable of sucking away hours of your life at near-Civilization levels and I would highly recommend purchasing it.
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