All time favorite game?

I was introduced to the wonderful world of gaming as early as 1996, the year I got my first PC. The nostalgia is quite overwhelming for me because I can remember quite a lot from that time, and I was only in primary school. I even remember I had an awesome pair of jeans, not to mention the wonderful world of Encarta ’96, the hours spent in Paint and, of course, the video games…

My brother, who is twelve years my elder, introduced me to many of the games I now call my favorites: Age of Empires, Caesar III, Diablo and its expansion Hellfire, Heroes of Might & Magic, Earthworm Jim and, of course, Dungeon Keeper. And later on, I discovered The Sims, Homeworld, Siege of Avalon, Nox, and many more. 

Dungeon Keeper is an RPG, god game, consisting of 20+ levels, where you essentially have to protect your Dungeon Heart from pesky heroes, usually playing in the third person, as an all-seeing eye in control of your underground realm, but can also play in first person when you possess one of your minions, because when you want something done right and you gotta do it yourself, plus you have an evil hand you can pick your minions up and slap ’em about to work faster. So cute.

The thing I love most about Dungeon Keeper is probably the fact that you get to play the bad guy, the evil in the world, and your enemies are goodie-two-shoes human warriors, like dwarves, monks, fairies, and a knight in shining armor, The Lord of The Land… whom you can capture, torture, and bring him over to the dark side, to give color to your army of Trolls, Spiders, Warlocks, Vampires, Bile Demons etc. and, the star of the show, the Horned Reaper (pictured above).

I love the original concept art and especially the details concerning the workings of your dungeon. You start off with your dungeon heart in a room already built, a few imps that are essentially the worker bees, if you will, of your dungeon. They mine the earth around your central room to create more rooms which you will give different functions because you also want to possess the portal that is usually nearby, to attract the creatures that will make up your army. They will need, a Lair to sleep in, a Hatchery to eat delicious live chickens, and a Training Room full of gauntlets to level up your monsters and make them more powerful, and it doesn’t stop here… Oh, and by the way, your minions don’t come for free. You have a Treasury Room where your imps deposit sacks of gold and gems they mined from about the area because you need money to build rooms, cast spells and pay your creatures a salary… Each room will attract certain types of creatures and they aren’t just mindless drones taking up space in your dungeon, they have feelings and also hobbies; if you slap a creature around too much it will get annoyed and it can either just leave your mistreating ass or straight up destroy your dungeon in an act of rebellion. Every room has its own design and function, and your creatures will be happy about the different amenities your dungeon has to offer, or, at least, I like to thinks so. The gauntlets of the Training Room will call out to the Demon Spawns, who clearly enjoy training, levelling up very quickly, as do Skeletons, actually. A Library is designated for the research of spells and new rooms, inviting Warlocks which are among the most intellectual beings in your underworld and the smuggest, considering they’ll attack any creature of inferior intelligence they find in their library. The Workshop will attract creatures of brute force and simple minds, like Bile Demons and Trolls, and they’ll craft traps and doors to keep your heroes out and your creatures in. The Barracks teach your minions military discipline and will attract Orcs, who, when left to their own devices, hang around the Guard Post, keeping watch over your dungeon. The Torture Chamber invites Mistresses, not only to your dungeon but to the room itself, for they enjoy some casual BDSM when left idle. And lastly, dropping a creature in the Scavenger Room will make that creature summon its brethren through your portal, and will attract the Hellhounds, which are among the weakest creatures you could have, but they do have the habit of peeing on corpses in the Graveyard, speeding up decomposition, leaving room for more corpses… because… not all creature types arrive in your dungeon via portal, some are the result of your evil doings… Depositing enough corpses in your Graveyard will yield a Vampire, who happens to be immortal*, meaning that if it’s level 2 or higher it will re-spawn in its lair a level short (*assuming it keeps training). A Skeleton is the result of a humanoid creature dying in prison, and a Ghost is of a torture victim and hangs around in the Temple praising the dark gods. Oh, speaking of the Temple, creatures “praying” in the temple can improve all your creatures’ mood, heal them of disease, or protect them from being scavenged. There are also a few sacrifices you can make to the dark gods, by throwing creatures into its pool, and these can either be beneficial to you or completely disastrous. For example, if you sacrifice two flies, the current research project will be completed, two beetles sacrificed will complete your current manufacturing project, and then there are sacrifices of creature combos which will yield other creatures, better creatures… A beetle and a spider will result in a Dark Misstress sent from the dark gods, three spiders will yield a Bile Demon, but a Dark Mistress, a Bile Demon, and a Troll will send forth a Horned Reaper. Now, if you sacrifice a chicken or a Ghost, all your chickens in your Hatcheries will be killed, a Vampier sacrificed will cast the Disease spell on all your creatures (it wears off pretty quickly if a creature is quarantined, but it’s very contagious, and if diseased creatures keep hanging around each other and the disease keeps carrying, killing everything), two Bile Demons will cast the Chicken spell on all your creatures making them extremely vulnerable and useless… and if a Horned Reaper is sacrificed to the dark gods all your creatures will become angry and start attacking other creatures no matter what, start destroying your fortified walls and ultimately abandon you via portal.

In certain levels, you have the opportunity of acquiring all species of creatures and converting most heroes to your side, and you’ll notice something… When your minions are idle, they only eat and sleep all day, and sharing their lair space with other species will annoy them to the point of killing each other. Some rivalries exist, and I can’t help but notice some logic behind them. A Fly and a Spider will immediately attack one another, but that’s to be expected, they are natural enemies after all. A Bile Demon and a Skeleton will murder each other because they’re complete physical opposites. A Dark Mistress and a Samurai share the same hairdresser, apparently. A Warlock and a Vampire? I guess it’s a matter of who wears their cloak better. And the rivalry between a Demon Spawn and a Hellhound? Hmmm, well, they both walk on lava, but then again so does a Dragon and a Horned Reaper. I don’t know, I’ll have to examine this more thoroughly.

Oh yeah! You know why the Horned Reaper is so special? He is the strongest creature you could have in your possession. You definitely want to have at least one and train him all the way up to level ten at which point he is practically invincible. But he is also very expensive. His salary and training will leave your Treasury bone dry if you don’t have a steady source of wealth. In some levels, you’re given a couple of Horned Reapers from the start, and you’ll notice the game designers neatly separated their living quarters, from the rest of your dungeon. Why you ask? He happens to be of an extremely volatile personality. Under any circumstances should he be left to his own devices. If you don’t keep him busy, he will get bored, then annoyed and ultimately he will become angry, at which point you’re pretty much fucked. He won’t fuck up your dungeon walls, oh no, that’s not nearly as rewarding for him as killing all of your minion, even the imps. No one is safe. I, however, like to live dangerously, if I have the means. Out of a sense of clean and organized dungeon planning, I will let my Horned Reapers live in the rest of my dungeon, but I will put them to work! It’s all in the strategy and efficient dungeon planning.I love the game! I love Skyrim too, and the Assassin’s Creed games (except for III and everything else after Black Flag), and Sims, but Dungeon Keeper holds a special place in my heart because it will always remind me of my childhood, simple uncomplicated times, when everyone was happy and my close family hadn’t started dying or breaking up. 

I love the game! I love Skyrim too, and the Assassin’s Creed games (except for III and everything else after Black Flag), and The Sims, but Dungeon Keeper holds a special place in my heart because it will always remind me of my childhood, of simple uncomplicated times, when everyone was happy or, at least, they did a good job pretending. Good times, good times…