PREVIEW: Legend of Keepers: Career of a Dungeon Master

Aug
03

PREVIEW: Legend of Keepers: Career of a Dungeon Master

It’s not quite Dungeon Keeper, the roguelite

Released: Steam Early Access
Type: Singleplayer, Multiplayer
Genre: Strategy, Roguelite
Developer: Goblinz Studio
Publisher: Goblinz Studio
Release date: 19 Mar, 2020

Have you’ve ever dreamt of luring poor unfortunate heroes into your dungeon, only to have them get killed by monsters, maimed by traps, and demoralized by powerful magic? Ever thought it’s unfair how the bad guys get all the cool toys? Legend of Keepers has your back, because now you can be the bad guy.

Legend of Keepers is a rogue-lite, where you get to play as the evil dungeon master, protecting vast riches from those pesky heroes who want to come down to your dungeon and steal them. Sounds familiar? At first glance, Legend of Keepers might sound like another Dungeon Keeper inspired game, like War for the Overworld or the Dungeons series, but it’s really its own thing

Things are not looking so good for the first group of monsters

Story & Setting

You’re an employee of the Dungeon Company, and your job is to protect the treasure hoard from all those pesky heroes who are getting lured down into the dungeon. Perform well, and you’ll be able to climb the corporate ladder, but perform poorly and you’ll be fired, or killed, whichever is worse.

There’s not a lot of story in Legend of Keepers, but through the game you’ll at least get a few descriptions of what happened, that adds a bit more flavour to the setting. Your hydra might think it’s a big dog, and run after an elf, coming back with the elf in its mouths, and your inventor might have got a great idea for a new trap, but needs funding. These things make the world feel like it’s not just a static backdrop, although the bits of text scattered through the game is still more meant to be funny than expand on the setting.

Events can be both positive and negative, and help make the game feel more alive

Presentation

Anyone who enjoys high quality pixel art is in for a treat with Legend of Keepers. All creatures, be it good or bad guys (but particularly the bad guys) are well drawn, well animated, and has some impressive designs. The backgrounds are also well drawn, and varied, and certain abilities will have an effect on these backgrounds.

Most of the music in the game has an almost eerie tone to it, fitting well with the evil dungeon theme. It’s not music that would work particularly well in almost any other context, but as background music for a dark and evil place, it’s good. Most of the sound effects are also fitting, but there are a few that are a bit too long and distinct to work when they get repeated as often as they are. This is particularly true for those that a few heroes make when they attack, but other than those specific sound effects, the rest remains good.

Survive long enough and you’ll get access to an impressive beast who can help guard the dungeon

Gameplay

In Legend of Keepers you’re meant to protect the treasure by any means necessary. Use traps, spells and monsters to kill any intruders who try to steal from the Dungeon Company.

The game is split into two distinct parts, you have the time between heroes trying to invade the dungeons you’re tasked to protect, and then you have the actual fighting against the heroes. In the time in-between you’ll be presented with a series of choices for what to do, and every week you get to make a new choice. The choices are random, and can include buying new monsters & traps from the merchants, training monster, upgrading trap, sending monsters out to pillage the countryside, dealing with random events and so on. Some tasks might make your monsters unavailable for a few weeks, but most things you do will either give you resources, or let you spend resource to improve your chances of beating back the heroes. At some points heroes will show up though, and then you need to dedicate a week to defending your dungeon. The heroes that try to invade your domain will get stronger and stronger over time, so unless you’re keeping up with the upgrades, they’ll sooner or later overwhelm you

When you’re not actively defending your dungeon you’ll get to chose your actions from this screen

The defense portion is split up into two separate parts, preparation and execution. During the preparation phase you’ll get to decide what horrible faith will happen to the heroes in each room of the dungeon. The rooms are in a semi-random order, and each room is dedicated to a specific thing, be it a fight against monsters (6 in total, split into two groups), traps or spells, and after the first year the heroes also get a room where they can recover. During this stage you can also see what heroes will be appearing, and so you can adapt to the strengths and weaknesses of those. Looks like the heroes have a lot of fire resistance? Then maybe don’t use the flame trap. Are the enemies of a type that likes to attack your back line? Then place a tanky monsters there.

Once the planning step is over, it’s time to fight. The heroes will move through the dungeon, one room at a time, and deal with whatever nasty things they run into. When they’re fighting monsters, you can decide how your monsters will attack them, and every monster type has its own unique set of attacks. If the heroes make it to the end of the dungeon, then they will go up against the dungeon lord, a particularly mighty creature, and your avatar, that can easily deal with most heroes, but if they’re able to slay the dungeon lord, it’s game over. Any monsters that are killed during the defense of the dungeon will be brought back to life, alive but unhappy. The only reliable way of making monsters happy again is to let them rest for a while, which means that they won’t be available the next time the good guys try to invade. The dungeon lord does not fare quite as well as the monsters though, and any damage sustained will remain after the battle. Some health will regenerate each week, but if the heroes get to the dungeon lord too often, then it will take damage faster than it can heal, and with each fight will be worn down a little bit more.

Once you inevitably lose, you’ll gain some experience points for the lord you chose to play. You can use this to upgrade your lord, which will make future runs easier

Remember, you’re just an expendable cog in a corporate machine

Early Access State

Legend of Keepers runs well, and seems to have fewer noticeable bugs than most full releases, but it is a bit barebones. There are a good amount of different monsters in the game, but you’ll likely run into the same few heroes repeatedly. There are not that many traps or dungeon designs either. Thus in its current state, the game gets a bit repetitive after a while. The developers have promised more of pretty much everything for the game, more dungeons, more heroes, more monsters, as well as things like missions, and new gameplay modes, which should help with the repetition.

Closing Thought

Legend of Keepers has a very solid foundation, and it’s darn good looking, but it’s a bit too barebones to receive a wholehearted recommendation, at the moment. But anyone who thinks the game looks interesting should keep an eye on it, it’s shaping up to be a really good game. And it’s not bad now either, you can get a few hours of fun from it, but after two to three hours, repetition is likely to start setting in.

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