Sunday, March 11, 2012

Delve Deeper

Delve Deeper is a hexagonal tile-based strategy board game for the computer made by Lunar Giant Studios. You take control of a group of 5 dwarves tasked by their king to dig down into various mountains and deliver their wealth back to him. Along the way you'll have to dig tunnels, mine resources, pick up treasures, and fight all sorts of various enemies, including other teams of dwarves.

The first thing to know is that Delve Deeper does not take itself seriously. From the king's "commentary" to the various treasures you can turn in, the whole game is very tongue-in-cheek, and that's what makes the game work. The game is a pretty solid strategy game on its own, but the humor is what makes you coming back despite the very limited multiplayer system.

As mentioned, you have to dig tunnels by placing the appropriate tiles on the map to expand existing tunnels or connect them to new tunnel systems you haven't explored yet. There are three levels to each mountain: Dirt, Stone, and Deep. Each successive level has more and better riches, but also more and tougher enemies. Probably the most important mechanic to remember, though, is that of hanging lanterns. As the game starts, the only places on the map that are lit up are the starting locations. As your dwarves end their turn (conscious) on an unlit hex, they'll set up a lantern, bringing light to that area. This is important because enemies spawn in dark areas. The more light you have, the less chance you have of a bunch of goblins or a gelatinous cube sneaking up on your dwarves. This is made more complicated by the fact that if you want to win, you can't usually dawdle and mine everything nearby. You've got to delve deeper and deeper for the good stuff.

You're given 3 types of dwarves, Fighters, who have a lot of hit points and do a lot of damage but are slow and can't carry too much, scouts, who carry very little and don't have many hit points but are insanely fast, and miners, who are average in everything except that they can carry a ton of stuff at once. Depending on the map and your strategy, you'll want to choose which ones you take wisely, since you only get five dwarves total.

Delve Deeper's biggest problem is a lack of computer-to-computer multiplayer. As it is, you can only do hot-seat multiplayer, which I've personally never found very fun. But maybe Lunar Giant will make a sequel with internet, or at least LAN, multiplayer capabilities.There are a few other things that would be nice to include in the game, but really, it's pretty solid as-is.

Oh, there's a lot more to the game, like healing fairies, gnome bankers, and the treasure buying "oogler" monsters, but I'll let you figure all that out on your own. There's a decent tutorial built in for the first time you play the game, so don't worry too much about it.

Bottom Line: Delve Deeper is a fun, inexpensive game. And it's humor and cartoony graphics make it a real hoot to play again and again. It also helps if you have a two-year-old in the house who is always asking you to play it so he can watch.

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