Developer/Publisher: Nysko Games Ltd
Genre: Strategy, RTS
Price: £10.99 (Steam)
Dwarves of Glistenveld is a real time strategy game with elements of base building, exploration and even RPG elements, which sees you take control of a Dwarven Clan of your own to take on hordes of grubby Goblins.
Currently it’s in Early Access having released mid-October while the dev team work through a complete Six chapter single player campaign, but the initial release already includes 6 levels within Chapter One to play through, along with a sandbox skirmish mode, a couple of pre-created one off scenario maps, and a map editor for the more creative among us!
The majority of my time so far has been spent playing on the single player campaign, which serves not only as a tutorial for the game mechanics but also provides more than a few giggles with the scripted dialogue between the Dwarves you control and come across.
You find yourself setting up fresh on each individual map with a set goal to achieve before you’ll be able to progress the story and migrate to the next section of the larger campaign map, initially you can expect to get through scenarios in a very short time indeed, essentially once you can prove your efficient enough at mining out rock walls, chopping through underground roots or teaming your Dwarves up to play whack-a-mole with the Goblins that also inhabit the underground caves.
That said, it really doesn’t take long for the campaign scenarios to ramp up potential challenge and work required to get through to the next scenario, and by the time I’d got to four/five scenarios into the game and past what I’d term the tutorial and into the real gameplay, it was taking a good hour or two to clear through a map, perfect for an evening of relaxation after a hard days work!
Missions themselves take place on some really beautiful hexagrid maps, whether it’s the designed settings of the campaign or the procedurally generated maps within the skirmish mode, and make you truly feel like you are in a deep, dark cave system. Lighting is brighter where you send your Dwarves to explore and work, passageways and openings are blocked off by thin rock walls, and if you aren’t careful with how much you dig away you can risk a cave collapse causing all sorts of havoc for your clansmen. The design of the maps and terrain is well done, very quickly being able to see what resources are held within, or under, the walls (stone, iron, gold, gems) and also give a rough impression of whether it’s a plentiful or scarce amount of the resource as well, making it simple to plan at a glance where you want your Dwarves to begin working and how to gain the most material with the least risk of removing massive chunks of the cave.
Setting up a base of operations is essential to progression within the game, as you’d expect from a title like this, and akin to the likes of Rimworld you can set blueprints and queue work orders for your clansmen to follow of their own volition, but also retain the ability to force them to prioritise on certain things where there is a sense of urgency to get something up and running.
On the face of things, the crafting and building within the game doesn’t seem overly complex, and my initial thoughts were that there isn’t that much to work with, however, as you start getting deeper into the game with bigger bases and more Dwarves to work with, I did begin to see some of the depth that exists, while it does currently feel that there could be more added in to the game this is one of the major points within the development plan for the game during Early Access so I wont grumble!
Finally it’s time to talk about the Dwarves, each of which comes with a set of randomly assigned traits which provide a set of buffs and drawbacks to your clansmen, ‘Gastric’ will cause your Dwarf to fart loudly and possibly alert nearby enemies, while ‘Chunky’ makes them move slower (not sure how Dwarves can get any slower!) while also giving a buff to hit points, and these can help dictate which role they’ll best fill within your clan (gatherer, miner, fighter, engineer), which they aren’t locked in to but gain additional perks the longer the stick with it and begin leveling up.
Through my time playing I’d managed to level up a few clansmen as pretty decent specialists in fighting or gathering which I would keep set in those roles, but also created a good number of ‘all rounders’ which had perks across multiple job roles and could act as a jack-of-all-trades to switch around to where I needed bodies the most. Moving through the campaign you bring all of your Dwarves with you after exiting a map, and can bring them with you into the next stage of the campaign with all of their experience and gastric tendencies, giving me a real sense of attachment to them after they had kept leveling up!
Dwarves of Glistenveld offers a lot of playability considering it’s right at the beginning of it’s Early Access phase, the inclusion of the skirmish mode means that sandbox players could come back time and time again to face off on randomised maps, against multiple enemies, and due to the map generation always have a different game due to the exploration needed. The game looks beautiful, and I also hadn’t come across any bugs or crashes during my time playing, which is promising. The Devs have a solid plan for the Early Access phase (more buildings, technologies, enemy variance) and as with any game you’ve got to acknowledge that buying early on when the price is low means your backing the possibility of what the game will eventually become, and in my opinion the game is definitely on the right track to become an RTS with friendly town management but real strategic gameplay.