Fine I’ll say it, I’ve never fully played a PC game. Before getting hands-on with War for the Overworld, I’d never even touched a game of its genre before, even less so its spiritual predecessor, Dungeon Keeper. I am what most people would called a console elitist, and though I’m never opposed to playing on a PC (I thoroughly enjoyed Gone Home on my Mac), I often find myself more at home on a dedicated platform for all my trophies and data. This is the curse of being a trophy whore, I guess.
Recently I was fortunate enough to be invited to a preview event for War for the Overworld, a title that gained fame after its more-than-successful Kickstarter back in 2013. With an original target of £150,000, the team managed to overshoot and gain near £240,000. Not too bad for your first Kickstarter, eh? Though however successful it was, a long journey laid ahead for its development, and the fact that the entire team sits at around fifteen people, says a lot about the passion and commitment involved.
WFTO is essentially a Dungeon Keeper game but with subtle differences to keep the lawyers at bay. The actually license of the series lies in the hands of publishing giant Electronic Arts, and with their only recent release being a 2013 mobile title, there’s not much hope for the future in their hands. Development of the series’ spiritual successor, which has even been endorsed by original creator Peter Molyneux, is being headed by Subterranean Games’ by Josh Bishop. Tasked as both the CEO and creative lead, Bishop has remained firmly seated in development for a guy in his early twenties. I have a lot of respect for the team, specifically Josh, as the pressure must not be an easy task, though during my interview with him six weeks before release, he seemed fairly calm.
For my first time experiencing the genre of an ‘God game’, I was in a fairly spoilt position. Given a fresh pizza, cold drink and a headset, I dived straight into the title and became accustomed to its controls. Spanning across thirteen different sections, the campaign tasks you as the boss, as you delegate amongst your minions in a bid to grow your dungeon and fortify its position against incoming attacks from heroes. Even with the lack of any official support from EA via the Dungeon Keeper license, there are some elements returning. Amazingly, the original narrator for the Dungeon Keeper series Richard Ridings, has been brought on-board, and though it doesn’t strike as much of a nostalgic chord with me personally, I couldn’t help but fall in love with his funny character quips. For a game without the original’s license, they’re doing an outstanding job.
I was a little apprehensive of the keyboard and mouse control system, but with a robust tutorial starting me off, within a few minutes I was surprisingly comfortable with dealing out orders. Starting off with a set of minions, I could select regions of rock around my spawn point and order the imps to do my bidding, making space in order to build new structures. You have to remember to keep your army happy, however, easily accomplished by building a vault for money, a barracks and a slaughter pen for food. Moving further into the campaign will allow you to unlock more characters and powers. Unlocking a cultist granted me the ability to learn spells for my imps, particularly useful in combat. Once WFTO launches there’ll be the option for campaign, skirmish and a basic sandbox mode, with the hope to release a ‘super sandbox’ mode, post-release.
My time with War for the Overworld has opened my eyes. There are very few games I consider ever owning on my Mac, and I think WFTO may well make the list. If you’re a fan of Dungeon Keeper then I shouldn’t need to say much more to convince you to buy the game. This may be the closest thing to a definitive third title, and it makes me happy to say that I’m starting with one made by the fans.
War for the Overworld launches on April 2nd 2015 for Windows, Mac and Linux.