Publisher: Tripwire Interactive
Developer: Power of 2
System Requirements: Windows XP SP2, Vista, or Windows 7; 1.7+ GHz or better processor; 1 GB graphics memory; DirectX 9-compatible; 250 MB hard drive space;
Genre: Casual Strategy
ESRB Rating: Everyone
I usually applaud simple, fun games. I’ve been pleased by their resurgence due to the ability to play them on smartphones, XBLA, etc. In general, I think there’s always room for both the giant blockbuster titles as well as the little simple pass-the-time sort of games. Dwarfs?! falls into this latter category, designed for the casual gamer to take a break from their day and go mining for some gold.
Nailing down the actual point of Dwarfs?! is a little difficult due to the various modes the game has. Essentially, you’re overseeing a whole bunch of dwarves who are mining and exploring through the land. Unfortunately, the poor little guys have no idea what will appear under the rocks they unearth. It could be riches, but it also could be lava, water, or even monsters. It is your job to make sure your team survives for the time allotted by keeping everyone safe.
I purposely didn’t use the word “control” in the above description, because you’re not really completely in charge of the little buggers. You can draw paths for the dwarves to take, but the game is more about responding to what they find rather than trying to move your characters to specific places. As the overseer, you’ll need to build walls to dam up water and build fighters to battle villains. Dwarfs?! is mostly a point and click style game meant to test your multitasking skills.
There’s a simplicity about Dwarfs?! that I have to admire. It’s kind of like an organized chaos. One minute all the dwarves are merrily mining away, but then in the next you’re literally trying to put out seven fires at once. I like the various ways the game can be played; for example, you can casually just try to get as much gold as possible, or play survival where you’re trying to ward off enemies with an army of dwarves.
But while the game is quaint, it suffers from the “haven’t I seen this before?” syndrome. Essentially if you took Lemmings and Tower Defense iterations and mashed them up with little miners, you would get Dwarfs?!. Personally, I found the game a little boring. The controls are a little frustrating (because as I mentioned, you’re not really controlling anything), so I found myself yawning a lot and waiting for things to happen. Once they did, I wasn’t really all that geared up to play again; I more or less just shrugged and found something else to entertain me.
Unless you’ve never played a game like this before (which is probably very doubtful), I can’t find a lot to even justify the low price of $9.99. Dwarfs?!’s heart is in the right place, but it just falls a little short (ba dum ching).