We recently discussed the release of The Dwarves here on Gravis Ludus with much anticipation and excitement. The game was based on the first book of the aptly named series. However, in spite of our hopes for the game, the actual product almost certainly falls short of our expectations. We’re not saying that everything in The Dwarves is bad, but a lot of rebalancing is currently needed. This is especially noticeable during combat where you’ll find yourself pausing nearly every five seconds. Not helped by this fact is that the introductory fight is rather fun as you’re only controlling two characters which is a lot easier than the full party.
However, let’s discuss the finer points of The Dwarves first. One of the first things you’ll notice when playing The Dwarves is that the graphics are very beautiful. The character portraits have a distinct “painted” look to them and the sights around the world are pleasant to witness. The characters themselves are enjoyable and I can understand why anyone would grow attached to them during the books or game.
I also enjoyed the narrator and the overall voice acting work done on The Dwarves as I never felt that they didn’t fit the characters. The Dwarves themselves sound exactly as we’ve come to expect from the lore. As well as the interface for the game which reminds me of older point-and-click adventure games where you try to find items in the environment. Especially considering that the story is just as great as it is in the books. Unfortunately, this all falls flat in the face of the combat system.
I was very excited at first when I heard that combat would be a mixture of strategy and RPG elements but, as I played onward, it dawned on me that the combat is actually rather annoying. When you begin the game with one very strong dwarf at your control, you’re led to believe that combat is much faster paced but, after a few hours and gathering more companions, the fighting became annoying and I would have rather the story moved along (more on the story later). There are several reasons for this, and the first one is that regular damage (as in the passive attacks) hardly do any damage. The game forces you to choose special attacks in order to maximize damage but, in order to do so, you need to pause the game scroll through your full party, choosing moves that will last all but two seconds.
Once you’re done selecting the attacks, you’ll find yourself pausing and doing this over constantly. This puts a damper on any action that is happening on screen as you find yourself micromanaging your group every step of the way. It disrupts the flow of battle by making it a chore and that’s something that should never be said of any game, especially as it’s usually the meat of it, but enough about combat. As I mentioned earlier, despite the story being great it has a few pitfalls. A major complaint that I have with games are false choices. This is when the game presents you with an alternative and, when you choose, it becomes meaningless.
This happened a lot during Mass Effect, especially after the third rolled around. Yet, it is especially egregious when it happens during a game based on a book. This is because such choices aren’t present on a story already told. Mass Effect could get away with it as it was still not owned by EA, but this is a pre-made story and, as such, being left the way it was originally would have been fine. But no, the developers thought it would be fun to provide multiple choices for the same outcome and that’s just teasing, which truly soured an otherwise unremarkable game.
Overall, I wouldn’t give The Dwarves any more than a 5/10. This is because The Dwarves is a strictly mediocre game as it stands. While the graphics and voice-acting are beautifully done, the rest of the game falls flat and it feels almost as if it needs to be seriously revamped. I can’t recommend this game to anyone but the most diehard of The Dwarves fans, and even then I’d hesitate.