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The story of Dungeon Lords is nothing less than a tragedy.
Before Dungeon Lords, there was a quaint little trilogy of dungeon crawlers titled Wizardry. A programmer named Dave was tapped to design three games in the series. He helped design and code the fifth, sixth, and seventh games, which is notable because Wizardry 6 completely redesigned the game engine and story to give it a sci fi feel.
Several years after Wizardry 7, Dave formed a game development company named Heuristic Park. They developed a game for Windows called Wizards & Warriors (but not that Wizards and Warriors), followed up by this game.
So when the guy who reinvigorated the Wizardry series builds up his own production company to release what is billed as an epic action RPG experience, what kind of game is the result?
The game that killed David W. Bradley's career.
Version 1.0 of Dungeon Lords was so buggy, so incomplete, that it was described as "a new low for how incomplete a game can be and still get released". Quest items disappeared from your inventory at random. Your avatar would sink into the ground and get hung up on corners. Buttons on the character creation screen failed to work. Walking around could cause the game to become Unwinnable, and through no fault of the player.
Gradually Heuristic Park worked up to version 1.5 - Collector's Edition, which fixed many of the bugs and expanded the adventure to include multiple side quests and enhanced character creation options. The game was now playable. By then, Dungeon Lords had been critically panned, was a commercial failure, and on top of that there was no patch to 1.5 from 1.0, forcing players who bought the game at release to buy the same game but not broken.
Rather than list what went wrong with it, it's easier to describe the good things in this game. The character progression system is point and level based, meaning a wizard can buy wizard skills cheaper than armour skills but still get both--in practice, this means that characters become do it all mensches with ridiculous powersets by mid game. Combat is action based, with shield blocking and tactical movement being as important as stat growth. And the dungeons are immersive and interesting. Dungeon Lords is an inviting dungeon crawling experience.
For a time, a Dungeon Lords 2 was in development, still trying to pioneer Bradley's vision. Development was put on hold indefinitely in late 2009, and that was the last anything was ever said of the matter.
Then in April 2012 came the surprise announcement that David W. Bradley is working on a remastered version of the game retitled Dungeon Lords MMXII. It will sport updated graphics, new classes and new contents.
This is also not to be confused with the European board game Dungeon Lords, which takes more after Dungeon Keeper.
Dungeon Lords has examples of the following tropes:
- Blatant Lies: The gypsy who tells you "you are a rare person indeed, in that you can shape your own destiny." Wrong! This game's plot is pure Railroading, the only choices you really get are what skills to specialize in.
- Further, the information on the Intelligence stat states that it reduces the experience cost for learning skills and spells. The problem? Spells aren't learned like skills -- they're treasure, usually picked up off the ground.
- Class and Level System
- Game Breaking Bug: Loads of them, even in the "patched" version.
- One dungeon needs a Plot Coupon to enter; if you exit before completing the dungeon, you'll be permanently locked out of the dungeon, unable to go back in to retrieve the Plot Coupon inside.
- The legendary equipment needed to advance through the story is still breakable. However, the menu that opens for other equipment to let you repair it doesn't appear on this stuff, because that's also where the "drop" command goes; apparently they couldn't disable one without the other.
- Some quest items will eventually disappear after the boss drops them, but you can get sidetracked with random encounters showing up during the boss fight.
- Lizard Folk: A playable race.
- Medieval European Fantasy
- Name's the Same: There's also a boardgame called Dungeon Lords, which is nothing at all to do with this game, having more in common with Dungeon Keeper. It's also very good.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same
- Our Elves Are Better
- Our Vampires Are Different: Our vampires are So! HARD! TO KILL!
- Save the Princess: Inverted. The princess is betrothed to a dark wizard, but has fled the capital to avoid the arranged marriage. The hero must get her to come back in order to keep the wizard from marching to war with the kingdom.
- Thriving Ghost Town: Everywhere, most especially the capital.
- Vancian Magic: Arcane magic functions this way.
- Wutai: Sorta. Walking around any of the medieval European cities, you can stumble across an eastern martial arts dojo, which is the only reference to an eastern culture in this game.