Dwarves, The Review
Welcome to our CHEATfactor Game Review of The Dwarves. We review the game and then factor in how the available cheats affect the overall game experience. For better or worse, our reviews will help you decide whether or not to use cheats when playing the game.
The Dwarves didn't have to be a video game. With it's quality voice acting, remarkable story and interesting characters it could have been anything from an animated movie to a episodic series. It's almost a shame then that the creators felt it necessary to shoe horn it into the medium they chose as the interactive, video game bits are easily it's most disappointing. There's truly a lot to love about King Art Games' new roleplaying game, but you'll control very little of that and you'll instead be stuck thinking what could have been.
Based of the 2003 book of the same name by Markus Heitz, The Dwarves follows a group of the diminutive warriors as they try to thwart an invading undead force. Above all else though, it's the story of Tungdil, a dwarf who was raised by a mage and had never seen his own kind until the events of the story begin to unfold. To be fair, The Dwarves doesn't do much that other similar RPGs and similar media haven't already done to the point of cliche but it's all held together well thanks to the strong backbone of fantastic dialogue and even better voice actors to deliver it. The heroes and Tungdil in particular are believable and you'll want to see them succeed while the villains are believable enough that you'll take satisfaction in ending them in spectacular fashion.
Interestingly enough, some pretty important plot points have been glossed over (most are referenced somewhere within the game) to fit into the game's ten hour or so runtime. It's not incredibly disappointed as the developers have made sure that the key moments are in fact here. I was also impressed that the developers didn't shy away from many of the game's darker moments in favor of accessibility. The Dwarves is pretty standard fantasy fare but it also has a tendency to turn dark pretty quick. I won't spoil anything for you if you haven't read the book but just be prepared for some pretty quick tone shifts. I was also surprised that the game tries to include player choice that can change the plot into The Dwarves. It's a pretty daring choice for a game based on a book, but it's not really one that pays off as you can tell the difference between the plot written for the book and those written specifically for the game in terms of quality.
As much as I love game though, it's disappointing that The Dwarves was adapted to the medium instead of something like a movie or TV show because the developers don't seem to understand why people like games at least in theory like The Dwarves. It hits all of the “this should be in a fantasy RPG game right” check marks seemingly just because it thinks it should. Take the game's combat mechanics for instance, while functional they don't do anything that a thousand other games before have done. You take Tungdil and three other Dwarves into battle with you and it's usually against a ton of enemies at once but save for a few key moments there's just nothing special to it. Move in, defeat a swarm of enemies, continue. There are moments where you'll have to strategize to use the game's map to your advantage but they're too few and far between to make it any bit of a selling point.
Similarly, character progression is almost non existent. Maybe that's not fair, as you can level up any of the game's characters at any time, a useful feature when you can only take three into battle, but the game doesn't understand how important character progression can be to keep gamers interested in these long haul types of games. There's no loot or even armor to collect to speak of, instead there's one talisman that acts as the center for your character to upgrade. As you upgrade your character you'll unlock different attacks for your character, three of which can be equipped at one time. So yes, there is character progression in The Dwarves but it feels so useless at times that it's a wonder why it's even there.
The biggest problem of all though with The Dwarves is the absolutely terrible camera. You don't have control over it… at all. It merely centers on the current target in the game and while you can learn to use that to your advantage over time,it's incredibly inconvenient. You're constantly left wide open to attacks and worse, the camera centers around the current target even if that means it's positioned behind an object that completely obscures your vision. Combine this with bugs that caused my game to crash on multiple occasions and you have an idea at just how aggravating an experience The Dwarves really can be.
I really wanted to like The Dwarves and there were parts of it that I did, but unfortunately they are far outweighed by the game's many issues; including lackluster combat, character progression and technical issues that can stop the game completely. Unfortunately, The Dwarves...comes up short….sorry I had to.
Joe started off writing about video games for small fan sites when he realized he should probably do something with his communications degree and didn't want to get into the grind of daily reporting. Joining the team in late 2008, Joe is the featured game reviewer for Cheat Happens, producing up to 10 CHEATfactor Game Reviews per month.
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