War for the Overworld Breathes New Life into a Beloved Franchise
I recently jumped on the Twitter bandwagon because I was told repeatedly that if I had any hopes of succeeding as a writer, having a Twitter account was absolutely imperative. What I found, however, was that I felt like I was standing in a crowded room talking to myself. There are so many people that you aren’t quite sure who to follow, and often, those that you do follow end up having nothing valuable to say.
Every now and then though, something comes across my feed and I instantly know that I have found something great. This is exactly what happened when I came across War for the Overworld at the beginning of last year.
Dungeon Keeper Reborn
I was a huge fan of Dungeon Keeper and Dungeon Keeper 2 in my early teens as they were the first games that I played that allowed me to play as the bad guy. As the evil overlord, it is your job to defend your dungeon from the invading heroes hell-bent on eradicating your evil presence from their landing and restoring power to bunnies, kittens, and everything good.
In order to do this, you must command and train an army of vile creatures ranging from salamanders and bile demons to dominatrices and even a horned reaper. For what appears to be a simple and straightforward RTS ends up with a fair amount of depth as each creature has its own abilities and strengths. An understanding of which creatures hate each other is vital in order to ensure your victory. If you never got a chance to play Dungeon Keeper and Dungeon Keeper 2 or would just like to play them again, they are available on GOG.
A third entry, Dungeon Keeper 3: War for the Overworld, was planned but subsequently cancelled, much to the dismay of thousands of fans of first two games (there was a “freemium” mobile version of Dungeon Keeper released last year but I prefer not to talk about that lest I fly into a fit of rage). This is where War for the Overworld comes in; a fan-made spiritual successor to carry on the legacy of a great pair of games.
War for the Overworld first appeared on Kickstarter at the end of 2012 and ended up raising a decent sum of £210 000, which just goes to show how badly people wanted to do more dungeon keeping. Originally the game was slated for release in August 2013 but the team seemed to realise that it may have been a bit optimistic and have pushed back the release date a number of times since then.
So what's the hold up?
Rich Stanton from Rock, Paper, Shotgun managed to get hold of creative director Josh Bishop to find out what was going on.
“It took some time to take a group of geographically diverse people and grow into a functional group of developers,” says Bishop. “Since then we’ve made significant progress on the game – we’re just about to push out our first release of the Linux-based build with Mac OS X to follow shortly. From a development perspective we’re progressing faster than we have ever been.
Our original and regrettably specific date has slipped. We think we’ve done the right thing by pushing it to early next year – this allows us to preserve the original scope without sacrificing quality.”
This was in October last year. Since then, the Bedrock Beta patch has helped the team identify many of the issues and they are now scheduled for release on April 2nd, which they confirmed today on Twitter was still on track.
From the sound of it, they have tried to preserve the feel of Dungeon Keeper with similar elements such as spells and minions that strongly mirror its inspiration without infringing on copyright laws. They have even managed to secure Richard Ridings, the voice of the narrator in both Dungeon Keeper games, to "reprise" his role for War for the Overworld.
I am really excited to get a chance to get back into a much-beloved childhood classic and even though it technically isn’t Dungeon Keeper, I think that Subterranean Games will give a lot of people exactly what they have been asking for over the last fifteen years. Now if only someone would get on board with a spiritual successor to Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines my life would be complete.
Seriously, indie game devs, you need to make this happen.
War for the Overworld is scheduled for official release on 2 April and you can check out their official site. It is also available on Steam's early access if you want to play the Bedrock Beta before the game goes live.