There are some great games that are based on books, Metro 2033 and The Witcher Series comes to mind. The Dwarves, loosely based on Markus Heitz’s book of the same name. Before I did research on this title and how it came to be I felt that I was playing as Gimli, you know the lovable dwarf from Lord of the Rings. Everyone loves Gimli from The Lord of the Rings, heck he was one of my favorites next to the goofy Hobbits Merry and Pippin. So THQ Nordic decided to make a 3D isometric battle royale game, I don’t really know why. They missed the movies by a few years and if you want a really good 3D isometric game you play Diablo III. Sometimes imitation is flattery, but if you get it wrong and imitation fails to translate, you don’t make a very good game. This weird foray into dwarves fighting a ton of mythical creatures really didn’t hold my attention, I’d rather play Return of the King if I wanted a good Middle Earth experience.
King Art Games really decided to “borrow” the look of Peter Jackson’s epic Middle Earth series. The opening of the game honestly looks like the opening scene of The Hobbit, the castle, the dwarves, the orcs and eventually the weird elf you meet. All of them look to be pulled from the movie and I wonder if Peter Jackson or New Line Cinema are going to be filing some court papers. Other than the homage or theft of the look, it did look nice on my huge television, the colors were vibrant and the dwarves very stylish. I did catch some tiling during a few of the cut scenes and that made me a little sad because it ruined the look of the world as I was beginning to become engrossed in it. While the world did look amazing, as the battles raged on I kept losing sight of my dwarf. Imagine being about the size of a quarter on my screen and about twenty-five other quarters being on my screen and trying to find my own quarter. Sounds difficult right? Well, it was. I lost track of my dwarf so many times because of the number of orcs on screen and all the health bars that cluttered up the screen as well. I suggest having a buddy help you out with a laser pointer perhaps, so you can keep track of your diminutive avatar.
The story is pretty simple, you begin your journey as Tungdil, a dwarf who was raised by humans and has just learned of the other 5 Dwarven realms. He sets off on a quest through Girdlegard to visit these 5 realms and learn more about his heritage, which he began to learn from through books. It’s nice to see a tale of knowledge, they are few and far between now and I like to see people learn, and learn myself. Unfortunately, Tungdil finds that the realms and the world are not as peaceful as they once were. War rages in this world as he begins to get swept up in it, so not only does he learn about the world, he learns to kill. Sounds like a Lifetime Movie type of story huh? What makes it truly like a Lifetime Movie is that there is almost a double narration. Your character will speak, then a voice-over will speak of their intentions and the like. I did enjoy this aspect of the game, it was very different from what I am used to and I hope a few more titles have narration by the character followed by some type of overseer.
The controls are quite simple if you’ve played Dragon Age: Origins you can play this game with ease. You use the D-pad to chose what type of action your Dwarf will take in battle, he can shield bash, jump, and slash; once you’ve decided you press A and your dwarfs responds. The Right Thumbstick moves your dwarf and the Left Thumbstick moves the camera around so you can gaze upon the battlefield. One of the biggest drawbacks is the fact that you have to have AP to use these moves, once it runs out you become a hit sponge. I would attempt to get myself out of battle until my AP recharged, but enemies follow so closely that it doesn’t quite work out. Battling gets easier when you control one of more Dwarf, but it is easy to lose them on the battlefield after you hit the Right or Left Bumper to use them. What I would do is use all the AP for one dwarf and then switch to the other Dwarf until AP had been restored. Not a pretty way to play, but it got the job done.
My time spent with this game was mostly in frustration. I could barely see my avatar on the screen and had to squint through my supremely thick glasses. I would plummet to my death several times a match because I would shield bash off a bridge, or I would be pummeled by my foes because my AP ran out. I wouldn’t really recommend this game to most people if you’re a fan of the books you will love this. If you’re a fan of strategy fighting and possibly chess then this is your game. I’m not a patient man and I don’t like to wait to make my move, that’s not how it works in real life, you don’t stand around waiting for your attack to recharge while in a fist fight. So that fact alone makes it difficult for me to suspend disbelief having been in several fist fights, I never just stood there waiting for the other guy to deck me, I decked him first and hard and as many times as I could until he was down. That’s how I see life, instant response, no downtime in a fight, so that makes me dislike games like this and turn-based because it sounds so foolish.
An Xbox One Product Key for The Dwarves was Provided for the Purpose of this Review