‘Dwarfs!?’ is a game available on Steam for 9 euro. This little game is a strategic game in which you have to help dwarves (spelled ‘DWARFS!?’ throughout the game and this review) digg to great treasure.
You cannot really control the Dwarfs themselves in this game. You can however suggest them to digg into a certain direction. “Hey you, big loot over here! No not there, over here you idiot!” While they ‘generally’ follow your directions, from time to time they just change directions, dreaming away into their own gold fever dreams.
You are basicly playing (overseer) a god here, protecting them from, or rather delaying from their imminent death. In the mountain that they are digging, interesting treasures can be found, along with their protectors (enemies). But there are also bigger dangers than those protectors, there are also water and lava reservoirs hidden. To protect the Dwarfs from enemies, you can train dwarves into soldier Dwarfs, so that they can protect themselves and their greedy friends. But those soldiers won’t be of any use against a water or lava reservoir that your friend was digging right into “waarghhh, Water RUN!”
As a god you are now able to build walls around these reservoirs (to prevent further digging into them on other places).
You can also place a bomb which a dwarf will need to explode for you (this usually takes the dwarf with in the process!), creating a huge crater in which the water can run away.
The same type of things you can do against lava. Usually you just use walls against water flowing into your paths and craters to block lava flowing to your defeat as lava will burn through walls.
When you find remote places that you are unable to digg into (protected by walls), you can build a tower to shoot your dwarfs to that location. They will however not be able to get back when this is a protected wall area, they can ofcourse if this isn’t the case. This is extremely useful for getting huge treasures hidden away from you in special caves. Note that these caves also contain high leveled monsters and that it might be a smart idea to get your soldiers (leveled up) trained before you fire them off (dwarfs get trained by mining and fighting monsters). The firing tower is also useful for fighting monsters in remote locations where your digging dwarfs have stumbled upon, preventing the monster from running into your homebase.
I played this a couple of times and feel it is an addicting, fun but difficult(!) casual game.
The game comes with nice tutorials that explain you all the inns and outs of the game and what you can do (and how!). But when it comes down doing them on your own you will have to be mainly quick, seeing the things happening and reacting to it with the right tools at hand. One of the arcade modes just gives you hundreds of dwarfs digging away happily in all directions, try to keep track of them all!
The game has several arcade game modes that will entertain you in different ways with different objectives. The campaign mode is a tutorial.
Here’s a video of a playthrough by Simon of Yogscast which gives a good example of the difficulties in this brilliantly designed indie game.
The game generates randomly different dungeons with several dangers and treasures. There are four different arcade modes. Next to that there is a sandbox mode where you can create your own caves.
The codex offers a complete guide with all the knowledge collected by your fellow dwarfs on how to play the game along with video tutorials. The game comes with 25 steam achievements. System requirements are: Windows XP SP2, Vista or Windows 7, 1.7+ GHz or better processor, 1GB of memory, DirectX9 compatible graphicscard and 250MB free harddisk space (oh and a mouse and keyboard!).
I really enjoyed playing this game and would suggest you to try it too if you haven’t already done so, as long as you like arcade styled strategic games with a good amount of dwarf(s) humour!