EA has massive hit on its (evil) hands with Dungeon Keeper

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Curious what game will be burning up the mobile charts this winter?

Look no further than EA and Mythic Entertainment’s reboot of the 90s classic Dungeon Keeper, the devilishly funny and addictive game where in this case, 50-percent strategy plus 50-percent tower defense equals 100-percent pure evil. That’s right, Horny is back, and being bad is better than ever.

Fans of the old-school PC game fondly remember the Hand of Evil controls on the mouse, but thanks to the touchscreen, when you want your imps to work faster, your own hand is now that of the evil one, as you swipe the screen back and forth to slap your minions across the face in order to make them dig a little faster (impin’ ain’t easy).

But manhandling monsters is only the beginning, as you set dastardly traps like spiked floors and fire-shooting walls throughout your fortress in order to protect your dungeon from both PvP and AI attack.

“This is a 90s cult classic back in the good old days of PC gaming, and it was the first time where you got to play the role of the bad guy … it was good to be bad,” says Jeff Skalski, Dungeon Keeper’s senior producer, as we sit down to play the game. “You had your mistresses, your imps, your Bile Demons, and all that.

“So when we had the chance to decide what was the next mobile game we could work on at Mythic, we were looking at all the EA IP, and when we saw Dungeon Keeper pop up, we were like, ‘Why has Dungeon Keeper not been done?’ There are a lot of fans of the game back at the office, and we thought it would be perfect to bring over to the touch devices.”

Image via EA
Image via EA
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As a god-view game that was once keyboard and mouse driven back in the day, building out your dungeon and activating traps is so much simpler now with the new touch controls.

“We’re super excited to have the Hand of Evil now be your physical hand,” says Skalski. “We want as many people throughout the world to play this game, so we’re including translations in 14 languages. We’re expecting a lot of new players who have never played a Dungeon Keeper game before to try it out, as well as some older gamers who now have these devices and are looking to keep Dungeon Keeper in their pocket.”

The game begins with a tutorial, introducing keepers to the ways of Horny, AKA The Horned Reaper, as he guides you through the wicked ways of dungeon life. Clear out the first set of bad guys with the “Cluck Off” spell that turns demons into chickens, and you’re off to your next task. You’re now in control of your dark lair, and you’re introduced to your dungeon heart that you must protect at all costs (upgrading your dungeon heart unlocks more room types), as well as your stone storage and your mines. Throughout the game, you’ll need to find resources like gold to upgrade your dungeon, buy more spells, and acquire additional minions. When you begin the game, you can simply send your imps out in the mine to dig for resources, but later on, you’ll also be able to raid other Keepers, which will be the most lucrative way of gaining resources.

“Just like the classic, when you place a room, it enables minions to summon through the portal,” explains Skalski. “If you want warlocks, build a library so they can read books. If you want trolls, build a workshop, which also adds the ability to summon more traps.”

You start the game with just one imp, digging up your dungeon and looking for resources. Buy a second imp after finding some gold, then slap them around, and you’ll motivate them to work twice as fast for the next 30 minutes.

Or, as Horny likes to say, “Tough love is never a bad thing.”

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Besides digging, you also need to prepare your dungeon defenses in case of attack, placing traps where you think your enemies will invade. Head to your workshop to find spikes and cannons, and as you continue to play and upgrade your workshop, you’ll unlock more lethal traps to slaughter your enemies.

Simply open up the shop, touch the spiked traps, and touch the screen again to place them, then watch as you defend against attacking skeletons. If the skeleton evades your trap, you’re able to then summon spells, touching the Fire Breath icon on the screen, then swiping across the skeletons in order to torch them and end the battle.

“What you’re trying to do is protect your dungeon heart,” says Skalski. “If they take your dungeon heart, it’s an automatic victory for them. Another way to have a victory is to do at least 50-percent damage to someone’s dungeon.”

Now that you learned to play defense, it’s time to build up an army of your own and jump on the offensive against the overlord who just attacked you. Claim your mines to acquire more gold, then build a treasury to place the gold, and it’s time to buy some trolls. Hit raid, and you’re ready to attack.

Deploy a troll in the enemy dungeon, and every room that you take becomes a new area where you can deploy more trolls, helping move the action along as you don’t have to constantly send troops through the same traps. By getting further into the dungeon and claiming rooms, you can even re-deploy troops back to the front of the line. In this case, trolls seek out traps in order to destroy them, smacking anything in their path with a devastating hammer attack. Find your opponent’s dungeon heart, capture it, and you’re rewarded with a treasure chest of resources you can then use to improve your dungeon, upgrade your creatures, and create more rooms as you finally push past the tutorial.

Adds Skalski: “The flow of the game is dig, divide, and dominate. In this game, your dungeon stays with you always, so as you unlock new rooms, new traps, and new minions, it’s going to cause you to change the layout of your dungeon to maximize your defenses so you can secure and hold as much of your resources as possible from invaders. You spend a lot of time figuring out where to place everything for the best defense, then going out and acquiring additional resources.”

Image via EA
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After playing the game for about 30 minutes, I didn’t want to give the tablet back, the game is that addictive. I was a fan of the original, but I have to say, adding touchscreen controls to the Hand of Evil is just such a natural fit, I can already see this cult classic becoming way more popular than it ever was on PC when it hits the iOS and Android free-to-play market this winter.

What can I say, being bad is going to be incredibly good for not only gamers, but for EA’s bottom line.