With Epic Astro Story it seemed like Kairosoft, makers of a series of horribly addictive simulation games, had finally gotten the point. It seemed like they realized that they had to innovate and change things up or they were in real risk of becoming irrelevant. Thankfully, with their newest game Dungeon Village, they didn’t forget that very important lesson. While it doesn’t innovate as much as Epic Astro Story, it’s unique and fun enough to be considered a real gem of a game.
As with all of their town building simulation games, in Dungeon Village you start out in control of a quaint little medieval hamlet. You’ve got to build it up with inns, houses, bakeries, training centers, restaurants, weapon and armor shops, and even circuses. You can also hold special events like marathons, art shows, concerts and weight-lifting events. This is all done in the hopes of building up your village’s popularity and attracting adventurers to your town. Adventurers are important as they help to populate your village and expand its boundaries. They also provide you with money from all of the shopping they do in your shops and protect you from the marauding monsters that pop up outside of the village gates.
Land ripe for the taking.
Managing the plucky adventurers is where the unique aspects of Dungeon Village come into play. At any given time during the game, strange monsters will start to roam the countryside and threaten to disrupt your peaceful little life. Any available adventurers will automatically go out and start to attack the monsters in battles that take place in real time and happen just outside your village gates while you’re still going about your usual duties of managing the town.
You can also send them out on quests where they’ll explore dark caves or spooky swamps, defeating whatever monsters are lurking there and gathering loot and gold for you to use for the village. Throughout the game adventurers gain experience and level up and eventually specialize in certain jobs like warrior, farmer or wizard. You also have to equip your band of merry men and women with weapons, armor, clothes, accessories and other items like cheese and fish to upgrade their stats.
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!
It’s a heck of a lot to manage, as each adventurer is different and you have to constantly keep track of their individual progress. Besides having them fight for you, you also have to make sure that they’re happy and well cared for, so keeping track of their satisfaction and wellbeing is critical. You have to do all of this while also maintaining the upkeep on your village with new buildings, upgrading existing buildings, landscaping your village, managing new items for the shops, holding the various events and even brewing special items in your village’s cauldron. It’s exhausting work, but seeing your village grow and your adventurers earn medals manages to make it all worthwhile in the end.
The retro graphics are great and are actually a bit of an upgrade from Kairosoft’s previous games. The pixely, blocky characters aren’t as blocky and pixely as usual and now sort of resemble little cherub-like personalities. The monsters look like they were ripped straight out of a Pokemon cartoon, and you may even feel a slight twinge of guilt as you mow down a group of adorable, smiling marshmallow-looking things. But you just have to remember that they are evil, and want to destroy you and burn your village to the ground. Don’t worry though… this is still unmistakably a Kairosoft game.
Dungeon Village continues the Kairosoft tradition of sucking your time away with you barely even noticing. The graphics are great, the gameplay has been refined to near perfection, and building up your village and sending your cute little warriors into battle is amazingly fun. The only real problem with the game is remembering that the real world does, in fact, exist.