Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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Review RPG Codex Review: The Dwarves

Discussion in 'RPG Codex News & Content Comments' started by Infinitron, Dec 21, 2016.

  1. Make America Great Again Infinitron Trade Master Patron

    Infinitron
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    Tags: KING Art Games; The Dwarves

    Last July, the world learned that KING Art Games, the eclectic German game development studio best known for their Book of Unwritten Tales series of adventure games, were working on a horde combat-focused RPG called The Dwarves, based on a German series of fantasy novels of the same name. The game was Kickstarted that September and released this December, exactly 15 months later. The Dwarves wasn't really the Codex's type of game and we hadn't paid much attention to it, but Bubbles' Gamescom visits kept it on our radar. A week before the game's release, we were able to acquire a review key, which was snatched up by talented contributor sser. We've had an unprecedented backlog of content this winter and some of you will be aware by now that The Dwarves has not reviewed well elsewhere. Unfortunately, our review offers no surprises:

    The Dwarves’ combat is mostly as advertised: it’s a whole lot of orcs colliding with a few dwarves and bodies don’t stay grounded for long. When it works, it looks great. You feel a momentum to the crowds of combatants and the weight of your crushing, bashing, upheaving abilities. Characters use abilities on cooldown (the horror) and have a limited amount of regenerating AP that must be expended carefully as your ‘warriors’ are amusingly unthreatening when left without. Action flows in real-time, though you'll often spend most of it pausing to assign orders and activate items.

    And everything in The Dwarves is about crowd control. The best of it is knocking enemies off cliffs, obviously, but when high altitudes aren’t available you must commit to bad attitudes (oh god why). Managerial crowd control is necessary to properly batter and bash a group of misunderstood peaceniks. Enemies need to be kept bashed away, off their feet, or stunned so as to prevent your fighters from being overwhelmed. The mechanics to thin out the waves of enemies tie directly into all this CC: viridian villains take extra damage if stunned or are instantly killed if you strike at them while they’re on the ground. Your tougher enemies will be complaining on the forums as you constantly CC them into haplessness. Sometimes you can combine abilities, like bashing enemies into one spot and then gassing them. Sometimes, the chaos of the battles gets too crazy and you accidentally charge off a bridge or smash an allied character in the face.

    Unfortunately, it just does not always work.

    Most scenarios are simply poorly designed, oddly reminiscent of the sort of amateur attempts found on a Starcraft UMS. The battlefields are short and mowed through all-too quickly. Nice ideas, very poor execution. A great example is a snow map in which there are crevices, cliff sides, fortifications, and an army of orcs crashing down on you. My first few attempts at this map had me desperately using all the resources I had: spreading my dwarves out, using combinations, pausing constantly to queue up new orders. And I failed. Repeatedly. After coasting through so many battles, I thought I’d finally found the point in the game where it was going to turn up the heat.

    Then I realized my objective was just to reach the edge of the map. This battlefield was fairly large with three branching points, but I only needed to get to one. So, what did I do? Well, your fighters can naturally push through enemies when they move so I gathered all my dwarves and simply walked through the orc hordes to the exit zone and promptly won. This theme of expedited endings is shockingly constant through The Dwarves. In far too many battles you can shortcut your way to a victory ostensibly due to a lack of foresight by the designers, why else would so many assets go virtually untouched?

    The characters themselves also have so little balance done – some are absolute shit while others can carry the team singlehandedly. Combine an all-star team with a few of these wonky scenarios and you can quickly start zooming right through battles (playtime: a generous 9 hours). One feature slotted in seemingly for no reason is a ‘friends’ meter on your characters. Blandly displayed by an undescribed number on the character sheets, if fighters are friendly with one another they’ll acquire AP at a quicker rate. Honestly, I never noticed this having any effect and threw my squads together regardless of their being Facebook friend status. The items and abilities are similarly imbalanced. Some are completely worthless while others are gamebreaking. For example, one character has a single-target, low damage “stab.” For the same amount of AP, you can do an AOE that does damage in a huge cone and simultaneously sends enemies scattering on fire. Letter opener pin prick vs. napalming greenskins. Not once did I find myself weighing out the pros and cons of these things.

    Speaking of enemies, there is not much variety on that front. You will mostly face orcs, surprise surprise. The orcs themselves really do not work that hard to differentiate themselves despite an ostensible ranking system. Aside from the larger ogres, I never really found myself identifying specific threats. A few other enemy types appear now and again, but I never noticed. There is a horsey type of enemy that skates across surfaces like a primadonna making the game look real fucking bad. And a couple of bosses that do the same. To the game’s credit, one of the primary villains is spookily imposing, but like a lot of fantasy idiots he’s frequently monologuing in place of murdering.

    I so desperately wanted the game to just give me awesome, large, and environmentally varied battlefields to fight and survive on. Unfortunately, most scenarios are condensed into one spot and the few that find ‘range’ probably only feel long by comparison. It would have been well served by the huge scope of, say, a Freedom Force style of map where you travel large distances across varied terrain. Freedom Force had tightly designed resource usage and maps could be genuinely grueling. You’d get to the end of them with a battered squad of heroes, just surviving by the skin of your teeth. The Dwarves frequently fights in a Smash T.V.-esque phonebooth and all too rarely captures a sense of struggle despite, visually, doing a great job of making you feel hopelessly outnumbered. As the game rushes to its conclusion you are given some genuinely chaotic battlefields, but even then it just felt hamstrung. You fight one boss on the edge of a cliff about the size of a shoebox. Because The Dwarves looks its worst on these small-scale fights, this dramatic battle ended up looking more like a grade school play than the bombastic world-changer it was supposed to be.​

    Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: The Dwarves
     
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  2. Make America Great Again vonAchdorf Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    vonAchdorf
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    Thanks.
     
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  3. I'm With Her Mustawd for prison Arcane

    Mustawd
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    Not sure if the marketing sucked for this game, but I don't remember seeing hardly anything about this since the interview we did last year. I didn't even know it had released.


    EDIT: Oh and the IGN reviewer found the game too hard, lol.
     
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  4. sser Arcane

    sser
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  5. ROARRR Learned Possibly Retarded

    ROARRR
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    :decline:
    This is no RPG!

    ...but now I am interested in the cinematics:retarded:
     
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  6. an Administrator Arcane

    an Administrator
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    So it's a combat-focused game with a boring unbalanced combat and it's not even an RPG?
    :roll:
     
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  7. Bumvelcrow Bellator Sempervirens Patron

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    Saw this on Steam and was surprised it had been released, or that it even still existed since there'd been so little news on it since it first appeared on the Codex. Disappointing, but at least sser didn't have to suffer unduly. Sounds like $5 steam sale fodder for next Christmas.
     
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  8. Tom Baker's Arse Novice

    Tom Baker's Arse
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    Great review, thanks for that. Looks like this one stank as badly as Heitz's writing.
     
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  9. acer palmatum Educated

    acer palmatum
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    Real-time combat and only playable dwarves? That would already have been enough to keep me away from it.
     
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  10. CryptRat Arcane

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    Only playable dwarves is a good feature, though'.
     
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  11. acer palmatum Educated

    acer palmatum
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    I never played a dwarven char, not in P&P and not in any CRPG I can remember. I always see them as the fantasy-version of drunken soccer-holigans.
     
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  12. Make America Great Again Darth Roxor Prestigious Gentleman Wielder of the Huegpenis, Hater of Eternity

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  13. yes plz Arcane

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    Dwarves got no reason to live.
     
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  14. Make America Great Again Lady Error Arcane

    Lady Error
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    Confused this with The Dwarf Run, which is supposed to be gud.
     
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  15. Make America Great Again Infinitron Trade Master Patron

    Infinitron
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  16. NeoKino お母さんの膣に! Patron

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    So many red flags, you would of though the game was the Ili rebellion.
    We need more games like this boost the average IQ of gamers , years of shit popamole has caused mass intellectual stagnation that decreased the average brain power of everyone who enjoys this hobby. Since no two human brains are exactly alike, no one enriched environment will completely satisfy all learners for an extended period, hence it is of great detriment when bland copypasta games are presented in a respectable light. If things keep going the way they are the average "gamer" may not have the mental fortitude to enjoy RPG Kino like Divinity Original Sin and Underrail, let alone trash games such as this one.
    We shouldn't tolerate antifaenitism on the dex, elves and monkeys Humans deserve equal representation as well.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
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  17. MicoSelva Prestigious Gentleman Monstroterratum Furiosum Patron

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    The game may be mediocre, but it got a kickass song by Blind Guardian, so I consider Kickstarter funds well spent.

     
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