Delve Deeper Review
3.4our score

Delve Deeper by Lunar Giant makes some pretty strong promises: an adventure, strategy, RPG indie game all in one according to the official page on Steam. Coupled with a pretty convincing trailer, we plunged into the deep mines to find treasure and riches with our dwarves. So, does the game live up to its bold statements? That’s exactly what we’re going to look at in this review!

Gameplay

The basic idea of Delve Deeper is pretty simple. You pick a map, choose your team and select your starting location. The game is split into a set number of rounds, and the goal is to score more points than your opponents. Points are scored by mining riches and finding treasure, and carrying those back to your base camp. (Or to a few special locations you find underground).

Delve Deeper Review 1

Prepare for an exciting adventure!

At the beginning of each turn, you pick from a selection of tiles, much like a puzzle game. You get to place one tile each turn, and careful placement is recommended. Either you expand your own mining tunnels, or those of your opponent. The latter can be useful if you want to connect your opponent to a nice pack of monsters. Speaking about monsters, they spawn each round in any areas of the mining tunnels which are unlit.

After placing your tile and thus expanding the tunnels, you can move each of your dwarves. There are three types of dwarf: Miners, Fighters and Scouts. The main differences are in their health, movement points and carrying capacity and this adds a little bit of strategic depth to the game. The placement of your dwarves at the end of your turn is pretty important, as they mine for precious valuables if those are present on their tile.

Combat

Delve Deeper Battle

Battle powerful monsters in gorgeous art! *cough*

If there are any enemies at the tile (both by you moving your dwarves into them, or vice versa) combat is initiated. Combat is fully auto-resolved and can best be described as an incredibly poor ancient RPG style of combat. E.g. you have the opponents on one side, your units on the other and they attack each other in turn. The fact that you have zero control over this really makes the process an inconvenience rather than a fun element of the game. You are merely a spectator while things beat each other to pulp in an unspectacular manner.

False Promises

By now you will realise this isn’t going to be an overly positive review. Quite frankly this game was a huge disappointment to me, and I found the whole experience dull at best. The trailer really made the game sound pretty interesting, and the description of the game on its Steam page further convinced me. Let’s look at a few things Lunar Giant Studios claim:

Delve Deeper is a turn-based Adventure/Strategy game for Windows that combines HD pixel art, tile placement, and RPG elements in a bright and humorous atmosphere. Up to four players take command of Dwarf mining teams in this fast and furious dungeon adventure meets devious puzzler, building the map as you play for an ever-changing, endlessly replayable strategy experience for you and your three best friends, or three devious AI teams.

Key features:

  • Gorgeous HD Pixel art, quirky humor, and the ever-present King of Dwarves!
  • Pick your own team of 5 Dwarves from Fighters, Scouts and Miners
  • Battle 20 powerful Monsters including Goblins, Evil Dwarves, and huge Dragons!
  • New! Level Builder allows you to create and share your own designs!
  • Challenge your friends in up to Four Player Hotseat Multiplayer
  • Collect over 100 relics to power up your Dwarves, and view them later in The Royal Gallery!
Delve Deeper Review 2

Adventure, RPG and Humor!

Now we take claims on pages selling a game pretty seriously and feel that these should at least be remotely reflected the game in question. So let’s see:

Genre: Adventure/Strategy/RPG

Reality: This is a strategy game, yes, but I am yet to witness any RPG or Adventure elements at all. It’s somewhat of an overstatement.

Up to four players take command of Dwarf mining teams in this fast and furious dungeon adventure meets devious puzzler, building the map as you play for an ever-changing, endlessly replayable strategy experience for you and your three best friends, or three devious AI teams.

Reality: This game is hotseat only, something that caught more than a few people out judging by the forums. Fast and furious is somewhat of a claim as well, as I found myself waiting several minutes while the other teams took their turns – never mind waiting for 15 goblins to mount some stairs one by one.

Gorgeous HD Pixel art, quirky humor, and the ever-present King of Dwarves!

Delve Deeper Review 3

All in gorgeous High-Definition Pixel Art!

Reality: The game’s resolution is a fixed maximum which spans about 75% of my screen at 1680*1050. With gorgeous HD pixel art, they really just mean pixel art. The so called quirky humour comes in the form of an incredibly annoying king – and really isn’t all that funny. Don’t expect Monkey Island jokes – think more long the lines of your least favourite comedian and then lower the tone some more.

Pick your own team of 5 Dwarves from Fighters, Scouts and Miners

Reality: True, but there really isn’t much to this.

Battle 20 powerful Monsters including Goblins, Evil Dwarves, and huge Dragons!

Reality: Since you don’t have any control in battles at all, but are merely a spectator in a slide show, the different monsters don’t really add any value. If the game would have had just one monster type with various strengths, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference to the player.

New! Level Builder allows you to create and share your own designs!

Reality: I couldn’t even bear to play the maps that came with the game, the motivation to make some myself really isn’t there! It would have been better to auto generate maps for added re-playability. (Worms style)

Delve Deeper Review 4

Who has won? I can barely contain my excitement!

Challenge your friends in up to Four Player Hotseat Multiplayer

Reality: I wish it was made clear in the rest of the description that this is the ONLY multiplayer mode available. That said, this is possibly the only life saving aspect the game offers as this type of gameplay lends itself best to playing against a bunch of friends.

Collect over 100 relics to power up your Dwarves, and view them later in The Royal Gallery!

Reality: If anyone at all actually managed to do this and found the game fun enough to bother, I do not envy you. You need to look around and realise you can get far, far better value for money, even at the low price Lunar Giant Studios are asking for Delve Deeper. Hell, you’re halfway towards owning Knights of the Old Republic if you DON’T purchase this, and that game will give you far more bang for your buck.

Verdict

Delve Deeper Review 5

This is the result of all your patience and hard work.

The trailer of this game is far more exciting than the actual game itself is. I suggest you watch the trailer once or twice, and then look for another game. Honestly, this game is entertaining for about 15 minutes maximum – after that you’ve simply seen everything there is to see. For a fun casual puzzle/strategy game to play against friends, I’d recommend playing something like Worms instead.

We don’t quickly criticize Indie developers but this game just isn’t up to scratch for release on the PC. They haven’t even bothered removing the reference to console controls. This game should be released as a flash game, or integrated into Facebook. It’s NOT worth a stand-alone release as it stands now. Also, minus points for not being more truthful on the game’s listing on steam!

the author

Managing Editor of ManaPool, Peter lives in York, UK and is a great fan and master of turn-based strategy games. If he isn't playing one of those, you'll probably find him in a role-playing game instead. He's definitely not afraid to provide a straight up opinion on any game and has a strong like for indie developers. We all start small, after all.

  • http://www.tjoonz.com/ Marc D

    Wow, I can’t believe you were excited to play this to begin with… Looking at the trailer I wouldn’t even bother trying this. But it’s good to see my expectations we accurate judging by your thorough review.

  • Ceriel Roland

    Wow! Have to play that game!!!

    …. NOT ….
    Like Marc said, it doens’t even look interesting :P

  • http://www.shadow1980.co.uk Evil Tactician

    Excited is a big word – but I tend to try a lot of Indie games, and this did look quite interesting. Was expecting a little more RPG, bit more dungeon crawler and generally a bit more…. game play. It was a pretty shallow experience – even taking the genre into account.

  • David

    All these game mechanics

    -building the map as play continues with cards from your hand
    -’automatic’, semi-random combat using power and chance to determine outcome
    -hotseat turn-based play
    -usable, collectible item rewards

    these all sound a lot like a card-based board game

  • Haldur

    I agree with some of what your review says — some of the terms used to describe the game are incorrect and misleading, and it only supports hot-seat multiplayer. Also, the interface is a bit clunky. That said I personally love the game for what it is. Also, the graphics fit the genre perfectly (see below),

    You have to understand that this is an old-fashioned “beer and pretzels” board game. It’s the type of game that us old-time board gamers used to play at 3 AM when no one wanted to go to bed, but we were too tired to play a serious game. We’d even play them at hotel bars during game conventions. If they had called it a beer and pretzels game, no one but us old-timers would have gotten the reference.

    First of all, you can speed up the computer players/monsters to lightning speed, which makes single-player games go by really quickly (ymmv for multiplayer games, of course). Secondly, the game is great for younger people — I played it with my nephew and he loves it.

    In any case, your review was fair in that, yes, the game isn’t exactly what was advertised. But if you ignore the labels, and review the game for actually what it is, and not how its advertised, there really is a fun little game hidden inside.

  • http://www.shadow1980.co.uk Evil Tactician

    @Haldur – Thanks, those are some pretty useful / insightful comments. We’re not exactly young here ourselves, but I’ve not come across the beer & pretzels term before. Then again, I’m not really a beer drinker.

    (Dungeons & Dragons + Whiskey any day!)

    In the end the game (at least in our opinion) really tried to sell itself as something it is not. Since that was the only thing to go by, we felt our review should reflect that – and ensure people really know what they get themselves into before buying the game. I don’t doubt that some people will get enjoyment out of this – but for the majority of people there are far better alternatives available.

    Ultimately this game should have stuck to Xbox Arcade / Smartphones / Facebook / Flash – it’s just not enough game to charge this sort of money for it on Steam.