Have you ever wondered how a high-fantasy story would go if the heroes were dwarves? Well, look no further, because The Dwarves are here! The Dwarves is the latest tactical role playing game from King Art and THQ Nordic Games, and is based on the novel “The Dwarves” by Markus Heitz. It follows the adventures of Tungdil, a dwarf who was raised by the human mage Lot-Ionan. In this world, dwarves, humans, and elves battle against the orcs and the various agents of The Perished Land to prevent evil from overtaking Girdlegard.
Right off the bat, the game looks gorgeous. Its character designs are thematically consistent with what is commonly perceived as the norm for how dwarves or elves should look like. What surprised me was how detailed each character looked like, from the armor that the characters wore to their weapons. The environment also looks amazing. From the first moment I loaded into the game, the details of the castles and bridges clearly showed how King Art and THQ Nordic didn’t pull any punches in the graphics department. Paired with how you can manually zoom the camera in and out and swing the camera angle in complete 360 degrees, it completely immerses you in Tungdil’s world.
What also impressed me a lot was how the game was completely voice narrated. It certainly gives you a feeling that you’re playing a pen-and-paper role playing game. Each decision you make as you traverse through the map if Girdlegard is beautifully narrated, and each character is superbly voice acted.
The game soundtrack was also very well put together. Benny Oschmann did a wonderful job of creating music for key pieces for The Dwarves. In all honesty, music is one factor that a high-fantasy game needs so that the player will be fully immersed in the game. The Dwarves certainly has the music to further enrich the experience of walking in Tungdil’s stout and sturdy boots.
Since this game is an adaptation of a fantasy novel, naturally the lore will be one of the factors that will capture you. Each character you meet along Tungdil’s journey adds a layer of depth to the story that will ultimately hook you in. Each encounter will bring you closer to the answers that you need as you play through this magical journey.
I am absolutely in love with this game. However, this game is not without its flaws.
For starters, I was really disappointed with the map navigation. It would have been better if the world map had a little bit more detail. Seeing your band of merry dwarves be represented by a bust that you move around like a chess piece on a map that looks like a game board did not bring me any joy. There are a lot of other games out there that executed map movement beautifully, sadly, I am unable to count this game as one of them.
Another point of slight disappointment was the lack of equipment options for my party. It might be too much to ask for an entire armory system of weapons, accessories, and armor, but letting each character bring only one item felt… Short. And I swear it’s not a dwarf joke.
A point of contention for me would be the combat. I do not know if combat in this game is brilliant or utterly frustrating. On one hand, the combos that you can do with your party members is a great idea. The thought that using the momentum of your party member’s hammer swing to push your enemies away while you dash forward on those same enemies to toss them over a bridge is great on paper. On the other hand, the physics of this game and the AI of your party frustrate me to no end. Swapping from one party member to another to make sure that they’re spending the action points they accumulate to do their signature moves is tedious. Also, there is a certain delay when I issue commands from one party member to another. It seems as if the AI will wait for its queued command before executing yours, which is dangerous especially if you’re trying to steer that said character away from harm.
Also, on my playthrough, I managed to navigate around the map on a path of least resistance. However, I was utterly destroyed when I arrived at a certain plot point that needed combat. Perhaps I should have gone around the map more and challenged more orc raid parties, I wonder.
And lastly, one minor gripe. It would have been great if certain key exposition were executed as cutscenes. But that’s just me wanting more cutscenes. It’s a shame really, since the cinematics on this game is superb.
With that being said though, I do love this game. This game felt like a Triple-A title with the heart and soul of an indie game. I applaud the people who made this game, you guys have done a marvelous job. I will certainly look forward to more adventures with Tungdil and his merry band of dwarves.
This review is based on a review copy provided by the developers/publisher.