Dungeons 3. Clearly the third installment of Dungeons, a game series developed by Realmforge Studios and published by Kalypso Media. I found Dungeons 3 in my Origin Access library (yes, I paid EA for Origin Access, please don’t judge me) and it seemed like something I might be interested in. I was immediately drawn in: it has a 9/10 review score on Steam, and one of my favorite animes is Overlord, where the protagonist rules over a dungeon and is bent on conquering the world.

Dungeons 3

Realmforge Studios
Kalypso Media
October 13, 2017

First, let’s go over the deets of Dungeons 3. The Overworld is a generic RTS type world that reminds me of Warcraft 3. You play as the “Ultimately Evil Evil” entity that guides a dark elf, Thalya, down the path of evil. The game splits itself into two sections during play: the dungeon and the Overworld. In the dungeon, the player has little snots (what the game calls worker drones) mine out areas to collect gold and make room for the various different rooms that they can make. The player can build traps, summon minions to fight, and mine for gold. The gold functions as a way to buy upgrades, but more interestingly it is used to pay the minions for their work. If the wages aren’t paid, the soldiers go on strike and even if they’re being beaten to death by an enemy they just stand with protest signs up. Personally I find this to be quite humorous, but we’ll touch on the humor after we talk about the Overworld. The Overworld is a generic RTS type world that reminds me of Warcraft 3.

A comparison of the buildings in Dungeon 3 and Warcraft. Both are of the same old European style, with chimneys, sloping roofs, and blue shigles.

Left: Dungeon 3 buildings; right: Warcraft 3 buildings

There are enemies and mobs to fight to clear out different objectives. The player can lead their army and Thalya to venture out and destroy the countryside before they come back to the dungeon to heal and stand around. And they will stand around. The game only allows the player to control a handful of warriors to fight, and the game speed is painfully slow. At a certain point in the fourth campaign mission, I actually walked away from my keyboard for about half an hour with absolutely no consequences and only enough gold for about three upgrades. Then again, maybe I just didn’t know what I was doing.

Now for the part I really wanted to talk about: the humor.

Dungeons 3 has a satirical, meta sense of humor. The majority of the story is told by the narrator, who not only narrates the story but also comments about events and prompts the characters to do or say things. I chuckled during the first campaign mission as the narrator joked about the ultimate evil that player is supposedly playing trying to take over a new land called the “Totally Eastern Kingdom.” For those that don’t know, this is a reference to Warcraft‘s “Eastern Kingdom” continent, and this was just the first of the pop culture references in the game’s joke arsenal.

A screenshot of some dialogue in Dungeons 3. The narrator's speech reads: "The great paladin Tanes, Hero of the Totally Eastern Kingdoms and a repugnantly good fellow! He was visiting the "Fatiguing Library" in Twistram with his comrades to see his foster-daughter Thalya." Dungeons 3, Realmforge Studios, Kalypso Media, 2017

“Twistram” in Warcraft Diablo Dungeons 3

Game of Thrones fans will immediately recognize the phrase “The night is dark and full of terrors” from when Thalya says it in the first mission, and I definitely laughed when she later said, “The night is dark and full of terriers.” But that’s where the issues come in: the narrator and the characters berate the player with nonstop references, to the point where they actually put in “It’s over 9000!” and “Kamehameha.” While the jokes were fun for the first few minutes, by the end of the first half hour they start to feel like, as Rick Sanchez says about Men In Black II, “basically an endless string of callbacks,” and “a joyless cash grab.”

In the end, I wouldn’t say that Dungeons 3 is a bad game, but I definitely don’t feel like it’s a good game either. The concepts are there, but between the slow game play and the annoying meme humor, the game falls short of something I even want to finish. I would have enjoyed the game more if the writers had included original jokes, with the references sprinkled in rather than vomited on the player.