Demo Preview of Kickstarter Project Dwarven Delve

Dwarven Delve is a Kickstarter from TinkerHouse Games that is described as Diablo meets Pipe Mania. TinkerHouse has also developed CurrentThe AirhornsmanWar RoomCthulu Saves the World, and Penny Arcade’s: On the Rainslick Precipice of Darkness. The funding period ends Friday, November 29th and the goal is set at a mere $30,000. You’ll be able to get the game for Windows, OSX, iPad, Android tablets, and Windows 8 tablets. I’ll let the team describe the concept to you:

Dwarven Delve is a game where killing the monsters with the dungeon is as much fun as pummeling them with the heroes. It lets you cleverly route enemies into even fouler enemies (and watch them fight it out) while chasing other enemies into deadly traps and lava pits. Which will hurt them. A lot. The game challenges you to race through a dungeon layout that you’re constantly changing on the fly. And when that layout changes, the way monsters and traps behave change with it. The game pairs these puzzle mechanics with action gameplay, set against a deep story.

It’s described as “somewhere between an action dungeon crawl and a light puzzle game.” There are six main characters (Warbeard, Tinkersmith, Godbinder, Spellforger, Stonebreaker, and Wayfinder), two of which are fully-armored women!

The reward levels are varied, and some of the cool stuff you can get is as follows: a digital download of the game, alpha and beta access, create your own in-game dwarven ancestor, a d20 tabletop adventure, a physical delver’s journal of postcards, and more!

I was lucky enough to get my hands on the demo of the game, which you can play here; I’ve previewed it below.

Plot

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At first, our heroes appear to be nothing more than a veteran band of delvers doing what they do best: trudging through long-forgotten chambers, pummeling monstrous inhabitants and plundering ancient treasures. They have no ambition for larger pursuits. They are treasure-hunters and monster-slayers by birthright. This is simply what they do, and they do it well. But then the chance discovery of a lost clan Warbeard tomb sets them down a path stretching back into their history, into the very heart of their subterranean world. This delve will lead them to the very beginning of the curse which dooms their people—and the means to end it.

When you reach the end of the demo, you discover that the stones that held your ancestral stories have been destroyed, and now you’re on a quest to get them back. Before that, there isn’t much story, just tutorials and teaching you the mechanics (which is fine for a demo).

Graphics and Sound

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Right click on the demo screen to convert to full-screen; before I did that, I found the play area to be a bit small. Everything is well-animated and fluid, and I really like the art style of the character portraits. It’s fun to watch everyone run around the dungeon. Everything on the screen is clear in what it’s supposed to be, and I was never confused.

Your leader is the guy with the big red beard on the right, and his is the voice you’ll hear throughout the game – it’s like in any RTS when you tell a unit to go somewhere and they respond. It’s what I would expect a dwarf to sound like. The music present so far is pleasant and fantasy-like, and sounds appropriate for being underground; I really enjoyed it. Sound effects were nice as well, with my favorite being the satisfying thunk the dungeon chunks made when being set down after rotation.

Gameplay

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Everything is controlled with the mouse. The UI is very clean and the game is easy to pick up on. You are leading four dwarves through a dungeon that has a completely changable layout, and your goal is to get them to the end of the level after collecting as much stuff as possible. This may sound simple, but there are quite a few factors to consider. Moving the dungeon is done by holding down on a tile and moving the mouse to rotate the path. Doing this will allow your dwarves to move and/or prevent the enemies from getting to them. Sometimes, tiles can only be rotated along with other tiles, which makes your job harder. Enemies will continue to come to the dungeon even after you’ve defeated everything on the map, so stay alert. You can use the dungeon against your enemies by leading them into the path of lava or feral monsters, which is really fun.

There are two kinds of resources to collect. One will be more valuable if collected while there are a lot of active dungeon pieces (ones you can move in) and one will be more valuable if collected while there a lot of inactive dungeon pieces (the ones that are cut off from the rest of the dungeon). There are also lorestones to find within the dungeon, and these give you lore points, which I believe will move you closer to your ultimate quest. In the final level of the demo, I couldn’t leave the dungeon until I destroyed the wards blocking the exit. Each dwarf has a valuable skill – increased fighting ability, healing, luring enemies somewhere else in the dungeon, and sending a spike to kill far away enemies. There were two dwarves not present in the demo. There was a lot of variety in levels, even in this short demo, so I’m looking forward to the challenges of the full game.

Final Thoughts

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This does everything a demo should do – whets your appetite for the game while introducing you to the mechanics. I backed the Kickstarter based on the fun I had with the demo, and I encourage you to check it out!

Demo Score: A

Back the game on Kickstarter here, check out TinkerHouse Games’s official site, follow the team on Twitter, and like them on Facebook. Vote for the game on Steam Greenlight!

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