For those of you who are unfortunate enough to have never played these games, allow me to describe them for a minute.
The Dungeon Keeper series is a set of real-time strategy games released in the 1990s by the now-defunct games company Bullfrog Productions and were published by Electronic Arts (EA).
They are set in a medieval world in which bands of heroes raid dungeons filled with grotesque, evil creatures in search of riches and glory. But there’s a twist.
You are not a valiant hero, instead, you are a dungeon lord, hellbent on spreading evil across the world and crushing your enemies under your boots. You control everything in your dungeon from building facilities and recruiting monsters, to mining gold and exploration, all with the aim of killing a pesky hero or destroying the heart of a rival dungeon lord.
The nostalgia of old games will often blind us to their problems. Oftentimes, old games suffered from their developers’ lack of experience and technical limitations.
Just the other day, I managed to get a copy of X-COM: UFO Defense, which is a highly lauded turn-based strategy game expecting to have my mind blown. Unfortunately, I was left somewhat disappointed due to the fact that there was no tutorial and no in-game indicator for what each icon and button was supposed to mean.
I had to look up the user manual online in order for the game to even be playable, and even then I had to work around the incredibly clunky isometric terrain, which completely detached me from the gameplay.
Somehow, Bullfrog Productions managed to avoid those common pitfalls and made a game who’s gameplay has stood the test of time and manages to hold up to modern gameplay. The tutorial is integrated into the campaign, easing you into all its features while not feeling too restrictive. The game itself is easy to learn and understand, yet consistently challenging.
They even had the foresight to include tool tips on every icon. And to top it all off, the game is absolutely hilarious.
But then, disaster struck
Remember how I said that the Dungeon Keeper series was published by EA? Well, since Bullfrog Productions ceased to be, EA has owned the full rights to the Dungeon Keeper intellectual property.
EA has a pretty bad reputation, and deservedly so. They are the two-time winner of the “Worst Company in America” award. They have consistently been shown to put profit margins over their customers, have bought out smaller companies (including Bullfrog) only to destroy them, and have been known to prematurely shut down game servers to entice players to buy newer games.
As scummy as all these practices are, they got worse. In 2013, they decided to revisit Dungeon Keeper, and in the process broke my heart.
They made it into an awful mobile game
Yes, the most recent iteration of Dungeon Keeper is now a crappy Clash of Clans clone, complete with exponentially increasing upgrade timers and micro transactions. This epic game from my childhood has regressed into a blatant cash grab.
Metacritic currently gives it a critic score of 42/100 and a user score of an impressive 0.4/10.
You read correctly. On a scale of 0-10, this game managed to score less than 1 after over 200 reviews. I remember downloading this game only to uninstall it the same day because it wasn’t the Dungeon Keeper I know and love.
This is why Dungeon Keeper needs a remaster
As I said before, the gameplay of Dungeon Keeper holds up to this day. It’s an incredible game series ruined by one of the most hated companies in the gaming industry.
Well, I want Dungeon Keeper to be restored to its former glory. I feel that the series’ biggest weakness is that it was released in the 1990s. Computers were simply not very powerful.
Though the original Dungeon Keeper games are fully playable on modern systems thanks to the people at GOG, they really show their age. The games have noticeably low-resolution textures, no 16:9 or 16:10 aspect ratio support and the AI is very predictable, to say the least.
A remaster would bring this epic anti-adventure into the age of modern technology. We could get something that looks absolutely incredible, has crisp sound effects, and has an artificial intelligence that is, well, intelligent.
A good remaster can make a great game even more immersive. It also serves to entice younger gamers who may have an aversion to retro games to try out an old classic.
And of course, in the age of the internet, online multiplayer would be a much better feature in 2017 than in 1997.
The real-time strategy genre has been stagnating in recent years. Not many developers are making them, and many people would be hard-pressed to name very many titles outside of the Starcraft series.
A remaster of Dungeon Keeper could be just what is needed to get people excited in real-time strategy games again. We could finally have a community for one of my favorite childhood games. And maybe, just maybe we can keep EA’s grubby little hands away from its development.