What if Dungeon Keeper were an MMO? Hint: it soon will be

The free-to-play scene gets nasty in the best possible way.

By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, December 3, 2010

Ah, Dungeon Keeper. Now there was a sim. None of this pick-my-hairdo, buy-new-lampshade suburban nonsense, but the trappings of unspeakable evil, rather – mossy walls oozing primordial slime, skeletons treading down the remains of freshly slain heroes, bustling torture chambers and velvety, gloating voice-overs that enter the brain not so much via your ears as by slithering up the inside of your spinal cord. Dungeon Keeper. Sadism at its most debonair and delicious.

The franchise isn’t in the pink right now (or, for that matter, red, purple, brown and black). The threequel was scrapped in 2000 to conserve resources for PS2 development, and original developer Bulldog Productions went the way of all hellish infestations in 2004.

Wherever will we turn, then, when the forces of sweetness, light and fairydust grow intolerably smug? Why, to Gamigo apparently. The Hamburg-based publisher just phoned to say that dungeon keepers worldwide are back in business – and this time, you’ll be running the show in a browser. Welcome to Dungeon Empires.

It lacks DK's sense of whimsy, but Dungeon Empires is one of the prettier browser games we've seen.

Rendered in reasonably detailed 3D, care of the Unity engine, Dungeon Empires is a free-to-play MMO. Masters and mistresses of the underdark divide their time between tending their private dens of stinking nastiness and plundering those of rival rulers. Limbic Entertainment is in the developer’s chair, and look, they’ve done a picture of a demoness with tight pants on. Classy. If the word “horny” doesn’t feature in one or more senses in a future press release, my name’s not Lord Archeron Beezelbub-Lucifer de Babylonis.

In terms of dungeon editing specifics, you can swap textures around (earth on stone or stone on earth?), recruit zombies, ghouls, golems and dragons (who must then be kept in good spirits for optimum hero-killing performance), and add decorations. There’s no mention of traps. More details are presumably on the way.

Dungeon assets are earned by pillaging other dungeons, and according to the publisher, “the clever connection between the two gameplay modes keeps motivation high”. The hero you control during said acts of rapine has an experience tree and customisable gear, adding a dash of role-playing to the endeavour. Combat is turn-based.

Gotta splat 'em all.

Gamigo’s accepting registrations for a closed beta. Time to dig out that box of spinning blades and hexes.

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