Dungeon Keeper

aka: DK1, Dungeon Keeper: Evil is Good
Moby ID: 156
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Description official descriptions

Dungeon Keeper takes real-time strategy into a fantasy setting. You command a dungeon and its hellish minions, and must take them to glory against the hated good guys. You must use your gold to build a fortress and weapons to attack.

As well as being able to rotate the 3D view, and control the light source, you can enter the direct viewpoints of your men, to see life through their eyes (one character's mode goes into black and white for this).

Spellings

  • 地下城守护者 - Simplified Chinese spelling
  • 地城守護者 - Traditional Chinese spelling

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Credits (DOS version)

150 People (116 developers, 34 thanks) · View all

Design
Project Leader
Lead Programming
Lead Artist
Programming
Support Art
Engine Design
Navigation System
Music
Sound
Lead Level Design
Testing Manager
Associate Producer
Network Programming
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 90% (based on 33 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 138 ratings with 6 reviews)

Dungeon Keeper has been hailed as a revolutionary game and so it is. It has done something new for computer gaming industry.

The Good
The fantasy gaming has been born out of the desire of to immerse into the works of J. R. Tolkien and other fantasy writers. And so the Dungeons and Dragons was born, and than it expanded to the computers. As Mat Barton’s Dungeons and Desktops points out the role of Dungeon Master from Dungeons and Dragons is given to the player in Dungeon Keeper. This is the first time something like that is attempted before the role of Dungeon Master has been played by the computer. In difference with Dungeons and Dragons where Dungeon Master is neutral in Dungeon Keeper the player is evil and bent on destroying heroes that go to his dungeon for the dungeon crawl. And it is truly a dungeon crawl for the computer controlled heroes who go thought the dungeon to vanquish great evil as it usually is or one can interpret the dungeon heart that looks like some kind of magical precious item as that orb that appears at the end of the dungeon in the dungeon crawl. In addition, the same classes are seen as in Dungeons and Dragons: Thieve Warrior/Knight, Barbarian, and Wizard with races being elves, humans and dwarves.

The concept of the game drew a lot of popularity because it appeals to the wants of players that looked for a chance to play for evil were tired of good triumphing all the time. The game tries not to give the evil side any reason to make the player understand why Dungeon Keeper is evil. He just is and that what makes it great. The player doesn’t see himself being right in what he dose as Dungeon Keeper, all the actions are evil.

And so let’s first look at the content that comes with the game. There is short story that is amusing to read and nicely written with the spirit of the game. Than there is a manual that is made to look like the book from Middle Ages. The manual is long and through and explains all the game and everything present there. It details the rooms of the dungeons, the creatures and the heroes as well as the spells that the Dungeon Keeper can use and those that the creatures and heroes could use. There is an error in the manual with regards to cave in spell ability to create land on the water, I tried it and it doesn’t work. However, reading the manual is not essential as the game has its own tutorial missions that do a great job of teaching about the game.

Now to the game itself, there are plenty of good things in the game itself. The graphics (and I don’t mean the quality as this is old game) are great, each creature has its own graphics for variety of situations, from when they are fighting, working, being tortured or picked up. All of them have unique first person view when they are possessed by the player. This is another good thing about the game the variety of ways to interact with the creatures and the environment. Ability to possess the creatures changes the game to different level and allows admiring the dungeon from the first person view. Here is the second plus is the look of the dungeon. It does look like one with some dimly lit corridors (when you are in first person) and each room has distinctive decoration to it. The cursor adjusts to the environment and often presents itself as devilish looking hand which is nice. The dungeon shakes as the keeper lays the rooms is another interesting add on. There something else needs to be noted, whether intentionally or not the game puts your dungeon keeper in red while the enemy dungeon keeper is blue and the heroes are white. This is interesting change from the default arrangement of the strategy games where often the default colour for the player is blue and the enemy is red. Whether this arrangement is due to the effects of the Cold War on the industry (NATO = blue, Warsaw Pact = red).

The sound is also good as each creature has distinct sound and there sound for when the player builds the rooms. Additional sound effects also add to the game experience. There is advisor’s voice that sounds right as the advisor should be. Exactly who is this advisor is hard to say but I would take creative license to call him the devil sitting on the players shoulder. The music soundtrack I did not notice, and I am not sure if it was there. However it is not really needed.

The gameplay itself is great as it changes the approach to the strategy game. The units arrive themselves without the need to build them, just build proper rooms. They have to be persuaded to train but they will choose to do that and can choose to do something else. Of course, the creatures that are trained and so have higher level are better fighters. The creatures need sleep and food and have their own schedule and ask for money. The question remains as to what they do with it. Some creatures appear differently through the transformation process of the dead in the graveyard, prisoners in the prison or torture victims in the torture room. In addition, there is possibility to attract creatures to join from the enemy’s side. Finally temple allows generating new creatures as well as receiving certain bonuses through sacrifices done there to the dark gods.

However, the creatures do have mood swings and they also do not like some other creatures, this adds to the game as the player has to manage these creatures to prevent them from killing each other. Also worthy of the notice is the unique characters of the creatures are reflected by the fact that they have distinct names. The manufacture of items such as doors and traps is done through the workshop where the creatures choose to work, so are the spells and rooms are researched by the use of the library where the creatures choose to research. This is all gives the game a very different character.

Another small thing to add is the fact that each room has a flag that indicates the efficiency of the room in performing its job, how full is it and how much it has health to resist being converted by the enemy. This is additional perk as the game allows player to capture enemy rooms.

I also would like to point out the ease with which one can cast spells here in the busy fight. The spells are cast by pointing at creature icon and casting the spell rather than aiming in the game world. That option is also available.

Than there is the great story that the single player campaign follows. The player sees a lush land of green with blue seas and blue sky. However, this supposed to disgust the evil dungeon keeper and every land that is conquered turns into barren earth with lava flow. The more is conquered the more things change, seas change colour so does the sky. Each mission is accompanied by before and after messages that describe what was the land before and how it transformed thanks to the player. The story advances beautifully and has allusions to the Ultima game by calling the grand good hero avatar and giving him the same image as the he has in Ultima.

The ending cinematic for the campaign is done nicely with the same dark humour as the rest of the game.

Finally, the game has hidden levels and bonus level last one appears during the full moon. There are also plenty of other Easter eggs that the player would love.

The Bad
Well the game has some bad things as well. The first thing I would like to point out is the computer A.I. assistant that is given to the player that supposed to make the player’s life easier but in my opinion makes it harder due to inadequate A.I. The same goes for the computer enemy A.I. The difficulty is only added by the starting conditions and the restrictions on the human player. The traps that are present in the game look a lot alike and so are hard to distinguish. The second part is that is the traps and doors can’t be requested and build at will by the creatures. Of course, if there is too many of them in the workshop remaining than the creatures complain about the lack of room to work.

Finally the spells and the possession mode are not as useful to the player as many spells could only be cast over one’s territory. And possession doesn’t add enough to the game to make the action worth the time.

The game has also major flaw, which is lack of skirmish mode against computer in single player. The campaign is the only thing available which after is done could mean the end of interest in the game as even though there are bonus hidden levels they do not add drastically to the game.

Another minor flaw is the fact that opening cinematic does not much the game entirely as the alarm trap doesn’t look like that in the game. So is the entrance that the hero uses looks like a castle rather than the entrance to the dungeon that heroes use in the game. However this problem was common in those days as cinematic was often made before game was finalised.

One thing that is left unanswered is what exactly Dungeon Keeper is; there are numerous mentions in the game to Dungeon Keeper as physical entity. Enemy Keepers even promise to feed Dungeon Keeper’s corpse to their minions, but Dungeon Keeper physically is nowhere to be found. Same goes for his advisor.

Of course, than there is realism (believability of the game world) problems. There appears to be no explanations for how it is possible to hold up the ceiling on the large rooms that Dungeon Keeper builds, nor real explanation for how Bile Demon moves around with no legs and skinny arms. How come chicken eggs pop out of the soil is also unexplained. The hero entrances just look too weird in comparison to the portals used by the creatures. However this is not as important.

The Bottom Line
Overall this game is great and accomplishes a lot of things. It fulfills the role of being entertaining and in addition it is also is able to pass on the message of how hard it is to be the evil guy and how hard it is to manage different people with egos, likes and dislikes and to satisfy their needs at the same time. In terms of the improvements the game could make is the number one being ability to get some money back out of the creatures because on many maps the gold is finite resource and creatures ask to be paid more and more.

The other things that would be great is ability to order doors and traps that the player needs than just wait for them to be manufactured.

Finally a better creature management and grouping system for combat system would also be great as it would help to move the creatures to the battlefield more effectively. This means also the ability to pick up more than 8 objects and ability to determine exactly what the creatures are doing as research, manufacturing and training are shown on the creature list by the same icon.

Windows · by Tatar_Khan (676) · 2008

Recommended, by all means.

The Good
Just about everything! The graphics are quite good (although the 3D acceleration actually decreases their quality...), the background music is just plainly fitting, the gameplay is awesome and the game is funny...

Plus, don't skip the intro - it's one of the best yet in a game.

The Bad
Not much. I can only say that your creatures are occasionally too dumb to adequately use, and that slapping them gets annoying after a while :)

The Bottom Line
Bullfrog - how bad can it possibly be?

DOS · by Tomer Gabel (4539) · 1999

It's good being evil

The Good
Dungeon Keeper is an interesting mix of war game and building Sim. Careful planning is the only thing between your success in crushing the ubiquitous forces of light and loosing to an army of pixies. Different units interact differently with one another, some forming tight bonds while other will try to kill and/or eat each other lending an extra dimension past the castle building and trap laying. The Sacrifices in the temple are a great additional way to gain special minions and the temples themselves are amusing as you are the "god" featured in them. The multiplayer support makes for fun times and great LAN parties while breathing extra life into this game.

The Bad
The graphics never have been the greatest and look very dated by today's standards, though the Gold Edition does come with an upgrade to fix this. First-person controls are difficult to use at times and it is easy to become disoriented while using them. This is a problem as there are parts of the game that require first-person interaction to be able to complete them.

The Bottom Line
Dungeon Keeper is a great game for those tired of the same old good guys always win war game or for those looking for an interesting twist on an old genre. Despite the rough first player controls (that you won't need most of the time) and aging graphics, it's still a wonderful game full of tongue-in-cheek humor for fans of both war games and Sims.

Windows · by lamoxlamae (3) · 2008

[ View all 6 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
has been published by EA, not Tec Toy? Henning Knopp (37) May 11th, 2020
Additional credits? Pseudo_Intellectual (65481) Feb 23rd, 2017

Trivia

1001 Video Games

Dungeon Keeper appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

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Jason Musgrave:

On a personal note, at the Software Etc. that I was working at when this came out, the manager felt the tagline of "Evil is Good" may offend some people (we were connected to a Barnes & Noble bookstore) and purposely placed the price tag over the word "Evil" on every box. The result was that the box would read; "Dungeon Keeper.... is Good".

Avatar

The arch-enemy of Dungeon Keeper is the Avatar from the Ultima line of games. In the official hint guide for the game, under the profiles for the Avatar "Lord of the Land", the graphic for him is the same used in the introduction of Ultima Online. (The same visage was also used in Ultima IX: Ascension).

Creatures

Each creature has a different style of sight in first-person view. For example the fly has a insect like hex shape, and the hellhound sees in black and white.

Development

Dungeon Keeper is probably one of the most anticipated games which Bullfrog has worked over three years for its development. It was first shown to the public in the spring of 1995 but was released just before the summer of 1997. Dungeon Keeper was also the last Bullfrog game Peter Molyneux had worked on. He then left Bullfrog and founded its own company called Lionhead Studios(www.lionhead.co.uk)

Extras

In the CD-ROM of Dungeon Keeper you can find some goodies in the goodies directory.

German version

In the German version all specific torture animations were replaced with the generic tent animation.

Monk

The chanting monks seem to sing "norske svin", which is Danish for "Norwegian bastards".

References

One of the most expensive spells in the game is the one that penetrates an opponent's reinforced walls, called Destroy Walls. When you cast the spell the advisor's voice said, "Penitenziagite." This sounds a little like "penetrate" but is in fact an extremely obscure reference to Umberto Eco's novel, The Name of the Rose. "Penitenziagite" was the rallying cry of a (real) heretical 14th-century band of monks who murdered wealthy churchmen on the grounds that Jesus had commanded poverty.

Soundtrack

All of the music for Dungeon Keeper, including the opening movie sequence, are available on the game CD as Redbook Audio.

Awards

  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 12/1999 - #42 in the "100 Most Important PC Games of the Nineties" ranking
  • PC Gamer
    • April 2000 - #47 in the "All-Time Top 50 Games" poll
  • PC Player (Germany)
    • Issue 01/1998 - The "Haste Makes Waste" Award

Information also contributed by Andrew Grasmeder, Ernest Adams, Indra was here, Maw, Jason Musgrave and PCGamer77

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by doj.

Macintosh added by Sciere.

Additional contributors: Accatone, CaesarZX, Paulus18950, Cantillon, Rola, Patrick Bregger, Plok, FatherJack.

Game added June 9th, 1999. Last modified November 23rd, 2023.