War For The Overworld is a dungeon management and god game that tasks you with building dungeons and managing the creatures that want to live inside of it.
The main mechanic of the game is building a dungeon and attracting various minions and creatures to it to do your bidding. You start off with imp workers who will dig tunnels and claim territory for you, which will allow you to build rooms. As long as you have a portal claimed somewhere, minions will start to appear if the rooms that they like are present in your dungeon. Minions require more than just their specific room, as they will need a place to eat, sleep, and collect wages. Unless they have a specific task to do, they will randomly wander around inside and outside of your dungeon, engaging hostile targets if there are ones nearby.
Traps, spells, and other things can be built and used in many places of the map. Doors can be built between walls to prevent enemies from entering and controlling the flow of your creatures. Traps come in various shapes and sizes, ranging from simply shooting at enemies to slowing them down. Rituals can be performed which, when completed, can have global effects on the entire dungeon and map such as revealing the entire enemy dungeon for a few seconds, to summoning a vampire. Constructs can be built anywhere even if you don’t own the area, such as bombs that will destroy walls and a gold depositing area so your workers don’t have to travel to deposit the gold that they have mined.
There are many modes to play, but most are incomplete and in a buggy state. The main campaign is composed of unique scenarios that slowly unlock and teach you about the various mechanics, creatures, spells, and other things that exist in the game. Skirmish has you build a dungeon and fight against AI that is doing the same. Survival gives you a starter dungeon and you need to survive against waves of enemies while making your dungeon better. Multiplayer is the same as skirmish except you can play against other players. Sandbox mode gives you unlimited resources to make a dungeon however you like.
Some campaign levels may give you some trouble, but you shouldn’t have any after learning how to play the game. You can choose the difficulty of AI when playing against them during a skirmish match. Multiplayer will probably be the hardest thing, and you can never tell how good the other player will be. Playing against the AI or other players in skirmishes will take you 10-20 minutes to do, while campaign levels can possibly take up to an hour to complete, but you can save at any time in case you can’t complete it in one sitting. There are no difficulty settings, but the campaign isn’t too hard if you know how to play the game. Skirmish mode has a difficulty setting, but it’s hard to tell if the enemy AI is actually any better in higher difficulties. If anything, multiplayer will be the hardest thing, but many game mechanics kind of prevent many advanced strategies to develop.
The campaign will last you around 10 hours to complete. After beating the campaign, you can spend time playing other players in multiplayer, play against the AI in skirmishes, build a dungeon in sandbox mode with unlimited resources, or survive against waves of enemies in survival. When the other modes are complete, the game can easily last you a long time.
The game has been released, but there will be a bunch of new content coming out in the future. Many of the modes are incomplete and the developers are planning on fully implementing them in the coming months, including multiplayer. At least one DLC is planned, which will just be a side campaign. A map editor is also in the works. The options menu is pretty bare, only having settings for graphics, sound, and language. The graphics, compared to Dungeon Keeper 2, are of course updated and better, but the game isn’t exactly amazing looking compared to modern games in general. Even though the game runs perfectly at 60 FPS when you first start a level, it quickly deteriorates as you uncover more of the map. Turning settings down won’t always help, and you can expect the game to always run at 30 FPS or lower after playing a level for a while.
The sound aspect of the game is pretty good, but could use some improvements for sure. Music isn’t too special, it is just some dark dreary background music that plays while playing. There is voice acting and the narrator guy is the best part of it, but most other voices you hear don’t have the best voice acting, and most creatures and minions don’t make many sounds or have voices. The game has many small bugs all over, but some are detrimental to the game. The most obvious one causes the game to crash, which seems to be related to traps being involved in heavy combat, and happens in many areas of the campaign because you’re often defending against waves of enemies.
As someone who spent a really long time playing Dungeon Keeper 2 through the years, War For The Overworld has been mostly a disappointment. Comparing to an older game that came out 16 years ago does of course just sound like nostalgia, but when it objectively does many things better, it is a fair comparison. I never expected it to be a perfect remaking of an old classic, but to also not be disappointed at the same time. Many people these days willingly accept when a game releases in a poor state, since they just say the developer can keep patching it until it works. This game in fact has been getting patched, quite often multiple times in one day, for at least a whole week now, but the only thing I’ve noticed is one level going from fairly challenging to a boring long lasting time waster. The first thing that Dungeon Keeper 2 did right was release an actual complete game, while War For The Overworld is full of bugs and incomplete game modes.
One of my favorite things about Dungeon Keeper 2 was the pet dungeon mode, which was kind of like a sandbox mode and let you build the dungeon of your dreams. WFTO does have a sandbox mode, but it is a empty husk as it just lets you build a dungeon with unlimited resources, but no way of having fun with it such as sending unlimited waves of enemies towards it. Both games have a campaign that work in the same way, but WFTO felt less like a dungeon management game and more of a tower defense one where most levels just have tons of enemies constantly attacking you, so you could never actually build and manage anything.
Minions and creatures also felt like a disappointment. Most creatures feel average and there aren’t any really strong ones, unless you count the hard to unlock ones that take a while to appear, and you can only have one of them. You could specialize your dungeon in Dungeon Keeper 2 if you only wanted certain types of creatures, and while this is technically possible in WFTO, you would have to build many wasted copies of the same rooms over and over just to make more of a certain creature to appear, so everyone is just going to have dungeons with the same amount of every creature. Even the enemies felt all the same, since most levels just have you against dwarves that look slightly different from each other.
The veins of evil, which are all locked at the start of a game, sound like a good way to prevent people from building the best rooms and getting the strongest creatures at the beginning of a game, but it just doesn’t really work this way. Most games don’t last very long, which means you won’t see and use the strong creatures very often, and you’re probably winning by time you unlock them anyways. The veins of evil are somewhat designed in a way where you can specialize your dungeon in how you want it to be designed, but you’re at a disadvantage if you only unlock from one category, which means a balance will probably always be the best. The problem that the veins of evil are designed to solve isn’t even a problem in the game, since there is very little gold in the levels to even gather, and the veins of evil that allow other ways to gain gold aren’t the best. Either increasing the gold that can be found on levels or making most stuff unlocked in the beginning of games would probably make the game much better.
I don’t know how to describe it, but it just feels like something major is missing in the dungeon aspect of WFTO. I think what it is is, there’s just no life or personality to your dungeon when you build it. It also feels like every creature acts like they are alone, instead of interacting with everything around them, and Dungeon Keeper 2 even had a mechanic where creatures would get upset if they were around others that they didn’t like, especially the goodly hero forces. The lack of sound effects and bugginess of minions wandering around probably doesn’t help the fact.
At the very least, War For The Overworld is an excellent start for a new generation of Dungeon Keeper games. If the developers can somehow fix most of the obvious problems, complete the modes, and put some personality into the dungeons, it is quite possible that it will become one of my favorite games like how Dungeon Keeper 2 is.