What do the titles Wizardry VII, Wizards & Warriors, and the upcoming Dungeon Lords have in common? They all bear the fingerprints of D. W. Bradley, a developer responsible for many fantasy RPG titles in North America. For his latest game, he's teamed up with Heuristic Park to produce his newest PC creation. Dungeon Lords made a showing at E3 in 2004, and is slated for a mid-May release.
Set in a new fantasy world, the player must create their own character, who will become instrumental in unraveling the political conflicts that plague the countries, which began when corruption entered the Circle of Mages. The wise counsel to Lord Davenmor, Galdryn of the Meadows, was the guardian of the Relics of Power--artifacts that may have the power to dictate Heaven and Hell--until this powerful wizard was assassinated. Conspiracy within the Circle of Mages by the wizard Volgar helped spur this corruption. In addition, Volgar is in alliance with the dastardly Lord Barrowgrim, an evil-minded dwarf with the ambition to overthrow Lord Davenmor, whose evil "knows no bounds." Other NPCs round out the cast including Lord Davenmor's daughter, Ellowyn, and the sorrowful mage, Emmindor.
"The battle system of Dungeon Lords has been touted as an RPG/fighter hybrid."
Since the player character has no specified trait, except for perhaps that inherent Manifest Destiny that all main characters tend to hold, the character creation process is an important part of Dungeon Lords. In addition to the eight character classes available, seven races have been identified for player use in creation: Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Urgoths, Wylvans, Zaurs, and Thralls. Additionally, an eighth mystery race has been hinted at and may be available for character building as well. Each race has natural abilities and statistics that should be considered, creating strengths and weaknesses. For example, the Thralls are short characters that are physically weak; however, they are extremely apt and accurate in the wielding of weapons and bucklers. Races also have classes and skills that they are more proficient at than others, such as the swift and intelligent elves, who make excellent thieves or healers. Players can also develop their character skills according to their whims. Skills fall into six categories--weapon skills, defense skills, general skills, magical skills, thief skills, and diabolic skills. Most of these are self explanatory, with the possible exception of diabolic skills, which determine the amount of dastardly and excessively violent combat skills that can be used such as stabbing an opponent in the back. Character appearances are customizable with a variety of gear and facial features.
The battle system of Dungeon Lords has been touted as an RPG/fighter hybrid, containing real-time combat with a variety of moves available for the player to execute using similar controls to games such as first-person Shooters. Players can destroy their foes as they see fit by combinations of thrusts, swipes, overhead blows, and jumping attacks. Special skills can also be used in conjunction with these basic melee attacks. But if brutal beatings aren't your cup of tea, or you would prefer a much flashier way to decimate your opponents, never fear. Players can learn and master spells from four different schools of magic and can cast magic no matter what their class (though it goes without saying that some classes are more proficient at the task than others.) Each of the four different types of magic require different objects to initiate the casting--elemental Arcane magic requires spell books and performing the evil Nether magic requires players to gather proper Katals as components to their spells (Putrid Flesh, anyone?). If after your onslaught of blows and shiny spells the enemy is still standing, some defensive techniques may be necessary. In this case, players can execute blocks, dives, and other evasive actions.
Players who are lucky enough to have friends may find use for the multiplayer capabilities of Dungeon Lords. In addition to the single player campaigns, the game supports up to four-player cooperative play through either LAN or internet connections. Taking on some of the multiplayer quests will net the participants special rewards.
If your PC is barren of RPGs, it frequently emits pathetic whimpers from its internal speakers due to game withdrawal, or if you're just looking for a brand new PC RPG, Dungeon Lords can be found lurking on the shelves of your local retailer in May.