Dungeons 3 originally released on the PC back in 2017; the third entry in a series of games clearly inspired by Bullfrog Studio’s strategy classic “Dungeon Keeper”. However that actually might be a reductive comparison, because there’s actually so much more going on in this game then in its past inspiration. It’s a clever mix of simple RTS mechanics and dungeon building gameplay. Many of its ideas have been polished to a mirror shine on this latest entry and finally it’s received a wonderful console port, filled with all previously released content, with Dungeons 3 – Complete Collection.
One thing that becomes obviously clear from the outset is that this is a big package. Not only does it include the main campaign which is around 25 hours long, but all maps and additional campaigns released after the original release are also thrown in.
That’s a good thing too because you probably won’t want to stop playing, as it’s incredibly fun. It has this fantastic mixture of several strategy genres that come together to just make you keep coming back for more and more.
Every new level starts you out in your dungeon, and at the centre is a dungeon heart; the key to it all. The player must defend that at all costs and he does this by building rooms, traps, and guards throughout his dungeon. The base building is extremely free-form and you can create many unique layouts depending on your situation. You have to balance your resources and build rooms strategically in order to survive.
There are rooms that need to be built just to supplement your resources, places like the treasury which builds up your gold or the chicken farm which feeds your units. But there are other rooms which increase your competitive edge, giving you new units, helping with researching additional technologies, or giving mana which can be used by the player to cast powerful spells that support their minions in battle.
However easily the most entertaining thing to build are the traps; these come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. Some are triggered automatically while others are triggered manually by the player. It’s so much fun to see what kind of ingenious and terrible combinations of traps you can spring on the heroes invading your dungeon. It’s humorous to see how terribly they can die, and it really makes you feel insidious, like an evil genius.
However on top of doing this you also have to build an army to send out to the overworld. This is Dungeons 3’s truly unique feature. Almost every level has a set of objectives that must be completed in the overworld, and this plays out in very typical RTS fashion, sending highlighted units to go to attack bases and other enemy units. The campaign does a good job of mixing up the maps and adding unique little touches per level. Oftentimes there are abilities or other factors that are only present on that level.
The only frustration is that some of the levels seem much harder than others, pretty much indiscriminately. It is not that smooth a difficulty one would hope for, but a bumpy ride of easier then harder challenges that are randomly dispersed.
The main campaign has a hilarious and very slapstick plot. There are several ridiculous characters throughout and many of them turn out to be surprisingly endearing. However none of them come close to the best character in the game: the narrator. Throughout playing, he is constantly following your progress and making commentary on the situation at hand. His offhanded comments and humor really give some great levity and entertainment to the moment to moment gameplay. All the characters and especially the narrator are wonderfully voiced and acted out as well.
Beyond the main campaign the expansions are just as funny and equally well-designed too. All of them have interesting new conceits and are well worth playing. The tropical vacation themed one in particular was a highlight for me, filled with even more corny dialogue than the original campaign.
In support of all this is the fact that this is a wonderfully made port for consoles. There was not a single time in my playthrough where I felt like I was limited in some way by the controller. It feels smooth and natural, like it was made for consoles specifically. It can often be hard to take PC genre games like this and translate them onto the TV, but this is a textbook example of how to do it right.
Dungeons 3 – Complete Collection on Xbox One is without a doubt one of the best RTS games you can play on the Xbox One right now. It has a fantastic mixture of several sub-genres wrapped in a hilarious and charming package that is chock-full of content. It’s been a long time since I’ve had so much fun being so bad.