Recently I went swimming in the Steam Summer Sales and I came up with a huge smirk on my face. One of my lovely little purchases is the quirky but impressive game Domina. A strange pixel filled game where I take Russell Crowe and make him my -cough- female dog. In fact, I had loads of fun with a recent Let’s Play video! BUT when writing something like this I am not willing to do this like a normal person, not a chance. Instead I shall embrace my inner Legate and you will endure some rather basic Latin phrases, ab abusu ad usum non valet consequential after all… This is gonna be a google-rific day!
You are a lady of the Roman Empire, your father was an incompetent halfwit who could barely run a bicycle let alone a ludus. While watching the Empire crumble (ab ovo usque ad mala) you decide that it is time for the lady of the manor to take hold on her life, train slaves to fight, distract the Romans in glory gory bloodshed and perhaps make a name for yourself in the process. Alongside a well-connected official and a rugged old warrior you must manage your lesser folk and turn them into gladiators while screaming “faciam quodlibet quod necesse est!”.
The game plays out a little like a tycoon game, which suits me perfectly. You need to feed your slaves, train them, gift them the occasional bottle of vino and research better methods to make your men more effective in battle. Battles will be given to you by either the Legate or Magistrate (those blokes in the robes) and these battles truly are your main source of income but also the occasion packet of supplies, slaves and occasionally gladiators are also given to you when victorious. Obviously you have no assurance to win and there will be times where the odds are horrifically against your favour, but rejecting a fight stops your main source of income AND aggravates the official offering the fight forcing you to remember quod cito fit, cito perit.
So the basics are good, you also get the occasional random events (including one involving a sandwich) which keep the spice of life varied and zesty. Furthermore, there are legendary gladiators who provide a greater challenge should the game feel too easy, which it certainly is not. There is always SOMETHING going on and a bit of bad luck could turn your once proud warrior into the ground echoing mortui vivos docent. You can shift luck a little bit more in your favour by controlling a gladiator during the fight but there is only so much that can be done, if you are fighting a freakin’ man beast with a mace no fancy foot steps will stop you being a pixelated smear on the floor.
This is probably my biggest criticism of the game, it does get a bit repetitive. Granted, you’ll be dealing with various types of fighters with some unusual circumstances but it does always come back to brief bloody battles. The whole game can change in a single fight which can be frustrating so the rage-quit likelihood increases rather severely. There are also some games you get so engrossed in that you forget to eat, this is not one of those games. It’s not to say the game is bad, quite the opposite really, but it’s short bursts of entertainment not a saga.
My review is brief because the game meat and potatoes, truly ad fundum. Regardless I do like a bit of complex carbs and a sausage so this isn’t a big concern for me and the cost of the game is so reasonable it is rather difficult to complain. Domina is a raunchy blood bath of instant gratificiation and there is nothing wrong with that at all, sometimes we all need a bit of cheap murder. So to Domina, and the its creators DolphinBarn, I say ad multos annos!
Follow the Defective Inspector on Twitter (and pick him up on his verb conjugation) at @DefectInspec
Images from Steam and Dominagame.com