Dwelvers is a game that takes great pleasure in looking, sounding, and feeling very much like a modern take on Dungeon Keeper.
The basic concepts of both games are essentially the same: Create an underground dungeon, make it self-sufficient, and hopefully defend yourself from invaders. This is done by digging out dirt from a top-down perspective (although you have pretty flexible camera controls), where you will then build various rooms to house your minions. These minions can be lowly imp workers or orc guards, or even weird creatures like impanzees or a cyclotaurs.
Once you’ve filled your dungeon with these strange beasts, you need to give them places to sleep, eat, train, and even relax. This can be a balancing act, as building new rooms take resources, and resources are scarce. You can dig around in the dirt to find more–but you may dig into some enemies that could overwhelm your workers. Your Dark Mother (more on her in a moment) is at the center of your dungeon, and will sometimes vomit out new resources or minions, but during my time with the game it was tough to get a grasp on when or why these new resources would arrive.
Dwelvers also takes light-hearted approach that Dungeon Keeper did so masterfully. From the first moment, I laughed. Hard. The imp minions that are spawned sound exactly like Elmo, and their tidal wave of giddiness was unexpected–and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Another funny aspect is the Dark Mother I mentioned before. The Dark Mother is a giant, fat, horned head that seems to be growing out of the ground and looks very silly (in a good way). Oh yeah, did I mention that she’s voiced by a British man? The contrast between her looks and the dialogue–absolutely dripping with sarcasm, is welcome, and inspires nostalgia of its gaming ancestry.
The game is in Alpha stages, which means that certain features aren’t implemented yet and is quite buggy. It took me 3 attempts at completing the tutorial before I could manage to play it through. Even so, I can see the potential. It is a solid baseline for a fantastic strategy/dungeon-builder, giving off lots of Dungeon Keeper vibes, and I hope to see Dwelvers grow into a fantastic game in its own right.
Dwelvers entered Early-Access Alpha on September 10th and is currently $11.99.