Gaming - War for the Overworld

War for the Overworld

The Defective Inspector opens up a new Case File to investigate War for the Overworld...

Many moons ago, back when the internet sounded like 2 old women arguing, there was a company of legends. Handsome, rugged and overflowing with comedy the great warrior ‘Bullfrog’ roamed the world without question bringing us god games like Populous, Theme Park and Dungeon Keeper. When Bullfrog was acquired by the great and terrible vowel heavy dark gods ‘EA’ a great sadness fell upon the land. It didn’t take long for the hero to die of shame and Bullfrog was scattered to the 4 corners. Folks from across the land paid tribute to the memory of Bullfrog with titles such as like Black & White and Rollercoaster Tycoon. But the legend of Dungeon Keeper died, despite attempts to inject new life into the genre it seems it could not be done. But then the dark ones turned their heads and made THIS

Burning everything
See above for the feelings of the link
“OH THE HORROR!” The people cried. “Is there nothing we can do? Will EA forever rule this franchise?!”

Enter Subterranean Games, picking up the lost project title for Dungeon Keeper 3 they formed a mighty Kickstarter in response to the people of the gaming world. Raising their sword into the sky they decreed that we, the people, shall have our champion back or die trying. They slaughtered the many bugs of development, harnessed the user feedback and forged a weapon which would rock the foundations of the dungeon world. War for the Overworld was born.

Dramatic? You bet your sweet ass it’s dramatic, rightfully so. It was over 15 years ago gamers were left with Dungeon Keeper 2’s teaser for Dungeon Keeper 3 and we never stopped talking about it. Now the game has reached version 1.2 with a developing DLC I felt it was time for me to hope and pray this isn’t a repeat of the whole “Dungeons” attempt made a few years ago…

Frankly undertaking this task was BRAVE, when you wait for 15+ years the expectations can be dangerously high as Duke Nukem well knows, but these guys nailed it inside and out. War for the Overworld is a true spiritual successor to the Dungeon Keeper franchise. Note the word spiritual as the original franchise was mutated into the horrible link I provided earlier. EA kept their grubby little claws on the name/copyrights but Subterranean Games found a way around it. Not to say it’s a carbon copy, oh my no, there are many differences and great improves which allows this game to stand alone regardless of legacy. But to pretend it wasn’t designed to kick EA in the teeth and give the villagers what they wanted would be a lie of omission at VERY least. Not only did they consult original contributors to the original franchise they plucked Richard Riding to reprise his role as the malevolent narrator who’s voice could melt butter and thus all photos shall be narrated by him, in your MIND.

"That's a big ball Underlord, compensating for something?"
For those who don’t know (And thus don’t deserve this game) War for the Overworld is a god controlling RTS where you play the bad guy, the evil powerful Underlord forging a mighty empire within the chasms below the earth. Using a variety of rooms, traps, minions, magic, defences and wicked sense of morality you must conquer the realms of other Underlords and eventually conquer the land where the clouds are born.

There are some VERY clear replicas within the game. You have tiny worker creatures you slap to make go faster, there is a place where you can feed your minions live tiny animals and an array of standard rooms like research, training, trap building and so on. But amongst all these mirror images there are a variety of new tasty ones. A place to brew potions to turn the tide a battle, a completely revamped magic system, more realistic/less boulder-rific traps to test your wits, developed minions which have multiple uses, a tech-esque-tree completely fuelled by sin and so much more. It’s surprising to see a game so similar but at the same time so developed and grown-up. It’s like leaving home when your brother is 14 and returning to find he’s a qualified lumberjack. Yeah he still likes fart jokes but damn he also has a mature mighty beard now and probably a story behind it too, War for the Overworld is no different.

"Making potions now Underlord? Careful of the homebrew"
Beyond the desire to conquer and kill there is a bushy man-plot which lingers around the campaign granted to you by the narrator, who by the way now has a name. It’s not the most remarkable storyline in the world but it’s nice to have something driving my dark heart beyond simply slapping an imp or dropping a dwarf onto a sacrificial alter. With all my reviews I’ll leave no spoilers, but it’s a nice addition to the game no doubt.

Of course there is a sandbox mode which was a needed return from Dungeon Keeper 2 but there is also a developing survival mode. Add on top of that extra skins for imps and achievements which unlock little extras the game has a lot going for it. Traditionally I have not tried out the multiplayer but I have no doubt it will work, just playing the game in single player allows me to appreciate how much fun it would be if I had friends to wanted to spank me silly on a game which makes me grin from cheek to cheek.

Despite all this praise I do have a FEW issues. There are still bugs, which is rather sad considering how long it’s been since the game exited out of Alpha/Beta stages and sits in full completion. These bugs tend to take form with suddenly stopping minions and dangerously low frame rates but most seem fixable with a tweak here or re-load there, even so it’s a little bit of a bummer.

There is also a pretty reduced comedy level compared to Bullfrog. I am not exactly sure why this is the case as often little loading screen messages scream the humour I remember from the middle fingering Bile Demon’s… It almost seems like they had to decide, from a gameplay perspective, what to focus on more; the evil or the giggles. This is something Dungeon Keeper was well known for and it would be a dangerous mistake for War for the Overworld to push comedy in now it’s established itself as a more serious younger brother. Granted there are some magnificent one liners from Richard Riding if you spend too much time playing the game and messing around but it just doesn’t feel the same. It’s hard to put my finger on it but there is something that Bullfrog did, something unique about their games in general which could perfectly counter balance funny and fun. That being said it is the ONLY time this game has come up short to its predecessor.

"One of your minions lacks the ability to smile"
I’m really pushing word limits and the average reader’s attention span so let me wrap this up…

War for the Overworld is its own game inspired by greatness. It stands up and counts itself amongst the thousands, if not MILLIONS, of fans who wanted a legacy to continue. With everything they’ve replicated, tweaked, added to and developed I can honestly say they did an exceptional job. From the bottom of my crusty blacken soul I say this; thank you for keeping our dream alive.

Images - Steam
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