Posted on 01 Dec 2017 by Stephen Haselden

Dungeons 3

The Defence

Developer: Realmforge Studios
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Genre: Strategy
Platform: Consoles, Mac, PC
Review copy: Yes
Release date: 13 Oct 2017

The Prosecution

OS: Linux, Windows
CPU: Intel Core i5 2.8 GHz
AMD FX 3.5 GHz
VGA: Nvidia GeForce 660
AMD Radeon HD 7850
DirectX: 11
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 120+
OS: Linux, Windows
CPU: Intel Core i5 3.5 GHz
AMD Ryzen 3 3.5 GHz
VGA: Nvidia GeForce 970
AMD Radeon R9 390
DirectX: 11
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 120+

The Case

In Dungeons 2, the dungeon management genre diverged a long way from its dark and sadistic beginnings in Dungeon Keeper. It’s almost as if fighting the good guys had begun to rub off on the Great Evil. The missions were far more clinical, all the creatures were far better behaved, and even the Snotlings kept the dungeon looking much cleaner than perhaps they should have. On the flipside, the narrator’s aggravation and sarcasm was a lot more cutting. If you didn’t keep up with the mission objectives, you could expect Kevan to lay down the law immediately with his special brand of dry humour. With this in mind, we ask the questions: does Dungeons 3 diverge even further from its roots? And if not, what does it have to offer that Dungeons 2 hasn’t?

The Trial

The Great Evil has returned! Or more importantly, for the people who adore his sardonic mutterings, the disembodied voice of Kevan Brighting (the narrator) is back. Ever ready to mock the creatures of the Overworld and cast scorn on your feeble efforts at overthrowing them. Kevan is without a doubt, the most endearing part of the Dungeons series. This time round, Kevan has to compete with Thalyer the dark elf as they both try to tell you what’s happening at once. Thalyer has something of an advantage; with her split personality, she’s able to fill two plot roles with just one character. Thalyer is a magical addition to D3’s voice over (VO). No offense to Kevan, it’s nice to have another voice involved in Dungeons 3’s very silly narration. But Kevan is the credited narrator and his experience and low cunning should not be underestimated!

The plot in Dungeons 3 is no less cheesy than in Dungeons 2. When the Great Evil fails to work out Archimedes’ theorem he gives up trying to build ships, and instead sends out his Ghost to find new lands to conquer: Enter Thalyer. Almost corrupted by the forces of good, Thalyer the Dark Elf was rescued from her better nature, by the influence of the Great Evil’s Ghost. Now with Thalyer as the Great Evil’s new pawn/counterpart GE has the perfect vessel for leading the forces of evil in conquering new lands.

Much like Dungeons 2, the presentation and attention to detail in Dungeons 3 is excellent, with beautifully rendered maps, creatures, and animations throughout. As well as the same graphical presentation, D3 also keeps all the mechanics and features from Dungeons 2 that worked so well. Maps are still a mix of Underworld and Overworld locations. With RTS controls above ground and management controls underground, offensive and defensive play feels very different. The “spreading evil” effect you create in the realm of good is totally mesmerising. Dungeon and creature management has changed slightly; it’s still similar, but on the whole simpler to control.

Classic DM action – digging new and enlarging existing chambers. Never gets old either.

As already mentioned, the narration is just as laugh inducing as in D2. Most importantly of all, D3 has been given a detailed and fun campaign that gradually lets you get to grips with every component of dungeon management as you make the forces of good pay, for being so…good. With Dungeons 2 and 3, Kalypso have created their own particular style that emphasises cuteness and humour. While I appreciate the humour a lot, and the style fits extremely well in places, the clean looks and the clinical feel of D3 does detract from the theme a little; it’s hard to get passionate about being evil when your snots keep your dungeon clean and tidy, and when even your trolls are well groomed.

The most obvious improvement D3 has over D2 is the new UI. Rather than numerous functions spread around the screen and in various sub menus, all the controls are now centralised in a new Dungeon Manager (DM). The DM is entirely on left hand side of the screen now, in a single sidebar, rather than divided between top middle and bottom right control panels. Not only does this make it easier to find every control, but it does-away with the extending overlay for creature selection. This means, you can see most of the screen while giving orders, and use the creature sub-menu for picking up and placing creatures that are off-screen. The sidebar still encompasses all the stats and functions you need for running a versatile and efficient dungeon, from which creatures are currently picking their noses, to how long it will take to research the Meteor Strike spell (which handily still works underground). Unfortunately, despite the overhaul, all the functions are still three mouse clicks away. However, everything is noticeably clearer and easier to use, and keyboard shortcuts are available for each section of the Dungeon Manager. To get the best use of the DM you’ll need to learn the keyboard shortcut for each section. Though a shortcut for the sidebar itself is missing, which is slightly annoying.

The “Grab Everyone” button (except snots because they’re disgusting and useless in a fight), is one control that gets used all the time. Whether it’s expelling creatures into the Overworld, or scrambling to defend your Dungeon Heart from invaders, selecting all your units as quickly as possible is vital. An issue with this tactic is that you may want to leave some creatures for defence. Although you can create control groups for you troops, you cannot “pick up” that control group all in one go. It’s either all your units at once, or one at a time.

Evil’s version of a Christmas tree.

Another new development in Dungeons 3 is the co-op mode for the campaign, allowing you and a friend to co-manage a dungeon. The unique mix of defensive and offensive tactics D3 offers complements co-op play well. One player can take command of the attacking forces while the other oversees defences. Expanding the dungeon and sharing the load in this manner is a lot of fun, although it also makes the levels a lot easier. The campaign missions in D3 are already quite easy, and playing them in co-op means you’ll burn through them in half the time. However, if you want to turn up the heat you can select Hellish difficulty. Hellish is not nearly as sadistic as it sounds, you won’t be inventing new curse words because of its utter fiendishness, but it will give even experienced players a bit more of a challenge.

Dungeons 3 still has a large array of traps spells and creatures for you to wield in your war against all that is good. However many of the more fun implements are now locked behind the new tech tree. While the basic techs are accessible through gold, the really destructive stuff needs concentrated Evil to unlock it. This adds an incentive for players to be more aggressive and get out of their cave, because the only way to accumulate Evil is to take over a Place of Power in the Overworld. The longer you hold a Place of Power the more Evil you will accumulate.

There are a lot of upgrades to discover especially once you’ve unlocked the Library. I found that most levels in the campaign were easily conquered without maxing out the tech tree. This does add some enjoyment when you’re just chilling out and designing the ultimate dungeon, but also, it means that you have multiple strategies for dealing with each every challenge. If you put all your research into spells you can unlock supernatural smackdowns that can be dropped on enemies anywhere, anytime (providing you manage your mana properly). If you can focus on upgrading traps, you can make those pointy sticks even pointier, and you can upgrade flail traps with custom built flamethrowers and more. Focusing creatures upgrades gives you even more options, because there are three distinct creature groups each with their own unlimited upgrades: Horde creatures (trolls, goblins, snakes), Demonic creatures (demons, succubae) and Undead creatures (zombies, liches and vampires). Specialising any of these creature types can turn them into unstoppable powerhouses of wanton destruction.

The other trolls soon regretted asking Gorbo the flatulent to join the battle.

Observant fans of Dungeons 2 will notice that the Snake archers are no longer present in D3, however that’s not a significant drawback as fireball throwing demons now fill the same tactical role. Heroes now have a few brain cells between them. Rather than solely attacking your Dungeon Heart, in the same predictable manner, different group of heroes may have different “side” missions. Some will attack the places of power in the Overworld, depriving you of a vital resource, and never stepping foot in your dungeon. Others will attack you as normal, but may head off into side rooms to steal gold, chickens, or even to free prisoners who in turn join the raiding party making it even more dangerous. Even if the heroes don’t find any “side missions” to distract them, they’re still liable to head into side rooms and engage in some wanton destruction. The added unpredictability of heroes in D3 makes them a little trickier to deal with, so you’ll want to keep one eye on the dungeon map at all times.

Skirmish mode offers you three different game types: Normal mode plays like the campaign, where you have to conquer the Overworld to win. Endless mode is similar to Normal, but there are indestructible hero portals underground so the game can carry on for as long as you want. Survival mode pits you against twenty waves of increasingly powerful heroes; each map is randomly generated, giving D3 a lot of replayability after you’ve completed the campaign.

The Verdict

Dungeons 3’s brand of evil is heavily edited to make it distinctly PG. However, if you can live with this the game still offers a fun mix of minion abuse and hero bashing. On the whole, Dungeons 3 has taken the Dungeons 2 formula and added the proverbial cherry on top. Players of D2 will recognise many of the features that made it a success have returned, such as: beautifully crafted maps and assets, a well-designed campaign, split Overworld/Underworld levels, split RTS/management controls, absorbing dungeon management and notably, its great sense of humour too. D3 also has some new features, including: new creatures, new spells, new tech tree, a new resource (Evil), and most importantly, a greatly improved UI. Skirmish has also been given an upgrade, with procedural maps and multiple game types, giving it a ton of replayability. Multiplayer is more fun due to the use of Evil as a victory condition, but MP needs further balancing, and like D2, it still suffers from the lack of a game lobby. D3’s new co-op mode for the campaign tends to emphasise how easy the campaign is, however that doesn’t stop it being a hell of a lot of fun.

All the reasons people have for playing Dungeons 2 are still here in Dungeons 3, from the hilarious dialogue to the absorbing dungeon management. The campaign has twice as many missions now and they’ve all been made to the same high standard, with varying objectives, colourful characters and numerous surprises along the way. There is little not to like about D3, and it has enough tweaks and additions to make things feel fresh and interesting, even to D2 veterans.

Case Review

  • Winning Formulae: Ingenious mix of RTS and management control systems.

  • Stanley Who?: Fantastic humour and narration throughout.

  • No More Unicorns: You get to be the bad guy (or girl), what’s not to like?

  • Double the Fun: Co-op for the campaign is a lot of fun.

  • Hunt the Icon: Better UI than in Dungeons 2.

  • Don’t Hurt Me!: Not particularly difficult.

  • Who Wants to Play?: Multiplayer is fun but needs improvement.

  • The Tidiest Dungeon: Everything feels clean and sanitised, and not especially evil.

4 Score: 4/5
How to raise an evil army. Now with added sarcasm.


  • Graphics: Only two options are available here: fullscreen/windowed, and resolution (large range of resolutions inc 21:9). This probably explains why the minimum Dungeons 3 requirements are so high.
  • Sound: Standard sound controls for main volume, effects, music and dialogue. There is also an option for turning dialogue subtitles on/off.
  • Game: These are a various quality of life options including: 3 x health bar options, autosave frequency, 2x scroll speed controls, multiplayer notifications, narrator chattiness and most importantly - what type of evil laugh you want!
  • Controls: This is a massive list of game controls, with their corresponding keyboard shortcuts. All shortcuts are adjustable, except for the Grab All button which has none. This is an annoying omission.


3 Score: 3/5

I’m certainly not what you’d call ‘target audience’ when it comes to a genre like this. But Dungeons 3 works quite well for me. Of course I have to bring up Dungeon Keeper, which I’ve played a many times as a child, even installing an uncut mod since there was no blood in the German version. Gotta slap them chickens to a bloody mist! Anyway, the Dungeons series keeps the dungeon building almost exactly as it was back then and adds a few sprinkles of its own on top. Though, these sprinkles aren’t exactly to my taste.

Dungeons 3, which by the way is the only game in the series that I have played, doesn’t just play in the dungeons but also on the Overworld. Mainly in the Overworld, I should say, since that’s where most of your objectives lie. The dungeon itself is mostly just a base where you carve out your rooms. The dungeon is also your main source for mana and gold, gold that you’ll need to unlock rooms, traps, and creatures or their upgrades. There is also Evilness which is needed for unlocks later in the game. It can be found mainly in the Overworld by taking over the fountains of the happy folk. Just send a few of your creatures to them, let ‘em kill everything in that area so that the happy fountain gets transformed to an evil one.

And that’s where these sprinkles I talked about earlier become stale. The combat feels sluggish and not as involved as it could be. Though I can imagine that a more involving combat system would make the game rather frantic since you also need to keep an eye on your dungeon. Fortunately, the game offers a co-op mode which is literally the single player campaign but with two evil hands. This is great since I enjoyed creating and managing the dungeon the most, while the other player can then focus on his creatures and the Overworld. An Overworld that is rather colourful I should add. The more you take over small villages however, the more the Overworld becomes dark and dreary. Though it’s all still rather cheerful and funny, no thanks to the great narrator that is Kevan Brighting, who you may know him from The Stanley Parable.

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