The Absolute Evil returns to the gaming universe with Dungeons 4 a title that continues the roots of the franchise and serves as a direct sequel to Dungeons 3. Once again blending the genres of real time strategy and dungeon management players will lead their own selection of dungeon creatures across three factions to conquer the heroes above and for the first time also the hero Dwarves below ground. Published in 2023 across major platforms by Kalypso Media it’s been six years since the last Dungeon title (three and half years since the last DLC release) which has given the Realmforge Studios developers ample time to refine and reinvent the experience for fans and newcomers.
In terms of story Dungeons 4 sends players quickly into the same universe as Dungeons 3 where the Absolute Evil and the Dark Elf Thalya have conquered the entire Overworld excluding one small holdout city where your stepbrother Tristan is rallying the last of the heroes with his motivating speeches. Despite the massive odds stacked against the heroes and an overwhelming evil force bearing down upon them in the first campaign level Thalya manages to trip up which allows the story to kick off a new campaign. While it’s not a likely situation in any other video game the Dungeons series and particularly Dungeons 3 has always had a high level of over the top humour and consistent failures of evil so it’s not completely unexpected.
The heavy pop culture references also continue with the likes of Lord of the Rings and Marvel just a taste of the early references players will encounter alongside the cringe narrator (by design). These early levels also waste no time in giving players a taste of the new mechanics and while it is perfectly paced for a familiar Dungeons 3 player a newcomer to the franchise may find it slightly quick and overwhelming at first before they can settle into all of the mechanics. If you liked the Dungeons 3 humour style you’ll find much of the same here in terms of style with the odd chuckle in between the campaign levels while those that don’t appreciate the humour can opt to skip past the cut scenes to focus solely on the gameplay elements.
These gameplay elements are heavily borrowed from Dungeons 3 with a familiar core of the three factions Horde, Demons and Undead which can be recruited to your side to face off against the heroes. Dungeons 4 is not content on just a straight copy though and there are a range of small and large changes that will have veteran players reassessing their strategy across many game mechanics. The heart of this strategy is still your dungeon though and the rooms you build that support one of the three aforementioned factions from basic lairs, food sources and faction specific specialties that help your combat against heroes or dungeon management. The gateway to this is primarily the new research tree where players level Dungeon, Horde, Demons and Undead separately by spending gold and evilness to increase your maximum number of Snots or faction specific creature recruits. With enough points invested into these faction specific research levels you’ll unlock the ability to research particular creature types of that tree and associated buildings of that faction for gold and evilness currencies.
While the factions of Dungeons 4 have been unchanged from the previous title each has received some new creatures and building changes. The Horde for example has the new Gnome character that serves as a short range high area of effect bomber that works alongside the familiar Orc, Naga and Goblin to provide a mixture of units that can be healed directly in battle. For Horde specific buildings you’ll also find the same laboratory to revive them upon death, the arena to train creature levels and the brewery while the new building for the Horde allows you to create potions to buff your units in a similar way to spells. With the Demons and Undead having a similar mixture of familiar and fresh the balance seems right just as new players explore their new tools while newcomers can start fresh with what is a refined offering with a cleaner research tree presentation. On top of these your leader Thalya will join the fight on most campaign levels who brings powerful assistance and increased customisation through a perk skill system that are earned by completing campaign challenges.
The purpose of developing this customised team of creatures remains generally the same with an overworld objective of heroes or their buildings to be destroyed that ties into the campaign storyline. One new notable threat in Dungeons 4 to this goal is the Dwarves who live underground alongside the player which limits your ability to claim resources while providing a secondary source of repeated enemy attacks. With this and some subtle other changes to the likes of spells players will also need a greater focus on the defensive nature of dungeon building with a simplified but equally effective set of traps to invest gold and Snot time into constructing. This isn’t the only change to the underworld either with lava, underground water and stone blocks making an appearance that limit your ability to dig for expansion while also making the individual levels feel realistic and varied.
Overall Dungeons 4 is simply more of the good (well evil) content that strikes a balance between fresh and familiar mechanics across the Horde, Demons and Undead for your Overworld conquest.
- Continues to develop the franchise in story and mechanics for both fans and newcomers.
- Recruit your creatures across Horde, Demons and Undead for your ideal strategic mix for combat and dungeon management.
- Expanded underground designs that includes dwarven opponents and visual improvements like lava.
- Control the Dark Elf Thalya once again to lead your dungeon creatures with a new customisable ability perk system for your achievements.
- Lengthy campaign content alongside skirmish content for additional gameplay hours and challenge.
Review Platform: iOS