January 21, 2023

Dwarven Skykeep (Steam) Review: Fun, But Just Likes Dwarves, Falls Short

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Dwarven Skykeep (Steam) Review: Fun, But Just Likes Dwarves, Falls Short

By Joel | January 21, 2023
Dwarven Skykeep (Steam) Review: Fun, But Just Likes Dwarves, Falls Short

I admit that I lost track of all the battles and invasions in the game. Dwarven Skykeep, by developer, Hack The Publisher, opens with a series of helpful tutorials and sequences which helps you understand the basic game mechanics.

After about a few hours in, however, I had a stark realization of how this game teeters between being very good to being just average. I'm not sure at what point did it meet at that crossroad, I just know that somewhere along the journey, it had lost it's way.

Dwarven Skykeep (Steam) Review: Fun, But Just Likes Dwarves, Falls Short

The plot is simple stuff, spread fairly thin, in terms of events but portentous in terms of meaning. Our hero and head wizard, Sevendar Kness, lives barricaded behind an impenetrable triple locked tower, in a room that generates mana and other mysterious concoctions that only a wizard can conjure up. Sevendar himself is quirky, restless, partly paranoid, but for all intent and purposes, rather brilliant.

Around Sevendar are a handful of dwarves who are at his beck and call. Dwarves, like leprechauns are creatures of the public imagination. They don't bother anyone and go about their business building rooms, and structures, and being sent out to fight the invading goblins as long as you provide the brew.

Sevendar's main adversary is the evil-doer Warchief Poe, who inhabits the other side of Dwarven City just beyond the reach of one another. With a kingdom this large, one would assume both can live happily together, right? But that wouldn't be any fun. After all, fantasy games need to be lean and uncluttered to be fun. Reality is what is untidy.

Dwarven Skykeep (Steam) Review: Fun, But Just Likes Dwarves, Falls Short

The Little Guys Don't Always Win

The gameplay mechanics in Dwarven Skykeep have been beefed up to appeal to players who have an interest in games combining strategy, RPG, tower defense, and deck building. By now, many of you will be familiar with these features, so I won't go into details about each one.

Essentially, you re-enforce your tower by building room to either side, top, and down of your structure. The rooms can be tailored to a specific role: a room to enchant the powers of Mana which will bring up your spell cards or a brewery to attract more dwarves to work for you.

Rooms can be created to craft items, like hammers, pick axes, to lessen repair times. Completing a level is mainly subjected as you have multiple option to completing them. You can literally complete a level just by putting out fires of draining a flood depending on the level.

But the game never hooks you the way the developers intended. The pacing is slow, the difficulty ramps up beyond your level making end battles extremely frustrating, and the deckbuilding elements don't play out as you expect them to. Yes, there are different environments to play on and there's a nice day and night cycle to view, but they are big effects hampered by lackluster game mechanics.

One problem is that the characters lack any type of appeal. As I mentioned above, Sevendar is a rather brilliant wizard, but he's to busy running up and down ladders and doing other things than being a wizard. The other characters are dull and lack any type of charisma. Sure, there are the occasional witty one-liners here and there, but it's was never enough to keep my attention.

The second problem, and perhaps the biggest, is Skykeep's balance. When the enemy attacks, fires usually rage throughout the tower, but it's difficult to put them out when the card you draw wants you to create tools instead of buckets of water. And this happens on numerous occasions which results in a game that is more frustrating than it needs to be and takes the fun out of the experience.

Dwarven Skykeep (Steam) Review: Fun, But Just Likes Dwarves, Falls Short

Slay the Dwarves

There are a lot of good things about Dwarven Keeper, but it plays out more like a tower defense game than a true deck builder. It's a game you can enjoy in pieces, but the overall jigsaw never gets solved. I liked it, but Slay the Slayer is not. Let's hope more balancing tweaks are in the works.


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