We are the Dwarves !, a tactical strategy game in real time single player setting, having unique mechanics that make it different from what you have seen to date. We can look for similarities in classics like X-Com, Dungeon Siege and even in the classic from Blizzard, “The Lost Vikings”; games where control is extended to several characters, demanding the best use of the virtues of each one, as you move through a stage where each step has to be planned.
But before we get any further it is important to note that “We are the Dwarves” is the first title of the Ukrainian studio called Whale Rock Games, who have participated in developments like Everquest, STALKER, Dragon Age or The Elder Scrolls. It presents a practically suicidal journey of three dwarf explorers in search of the salvation of their world. While they may look like astronauts, their journey is much more metaphysical than just landing on a planet full of aliens. In one way or another, our three dwarfs will end up trying to survive in an environment where each and every element is hostile to them and can end their life. And that, as we will see, is basically what we are going to do in this game, lose a lot of life and start over.
Each of the three characters has their own personality and role in the adventure and, more important, with their own abilities to face it. The first dwarf we can play is Forcer, whose abilities are of remote attack, counting on a shotgun, a crossbow, and a grenade launcher. As defensive skills, Forcer will be able to cast lures that will attract enemy attention, as well as a force field that will absorb the projectile damage, so the dwarves can be protected as long as they stay within.
The second dwarf we can control will be Smashfist, a “tank” type character, who has two axes of war that can unleash the line of shock and the enormous damage to enemies. In addition, he has couple more special attacks with axes, like he can enter the furious mode in which receives less amount of damage. The last character in the game is Shadow, our ninja dwarf, with abilities to hide and move between enemies without alerting them, as well as to eliminate them in silence.
These three dwarves begin the adventure apart, after crashing their ship. We start the action, controlling Forcer, with arrows and a crossbow. The controls are simple, a click on the map and the dwarf scrolls. Click on the enemy and attack him. In front, three small enemies with the head of a sea bream. There is not much to think about; Advance, two shotguns and continue advancing. And that’s where we will encounter the harsh reality of what this game is all about! Within seconds of mistakenly assuming that this just another hack and slash title, you will suffer from your first death. We will try again, reaching the same fatal destiny. Not even getting hit with the shotgun we managed to finish with the first enemy of the game, although this one has all the aspect of being the lowest and common of the same one. We will then opt to try to flank them, with the same result, since they either hear us, they will see us from a great distance, they will smell us or even feel our presence and, as soon as we do, all enemies of the stage will fall on us, finishing us within seconds.
The first moment of surprise, assumption that something we are doing wrong and cowardly escape to the main menu to choose the simplest difficulty mode, the two available. It will cost us even enough deaths to begin to get us with really effective control of the character. It will seem clumsy, slow and harmless unless it has the initiative in the attack. The shots of each weapon take a forever to recharge, the armor looks like a simple ornament, the movement is numb by the stage, and the enemies seem to us almost unassuming, with a resistance and capacity of damage out of the expected by their appearance. It will be the moment when you will stop and really start working on a strategy. Okay, so it’s a tactical strategy game in real time.
We will learn that the only way to face a combat is to use the pause. A simple click introduces us to a kind of bullet time in which it is now possible to choose the right weapon, point to the exact point and move to that hole just that we Allow to avoid the projectiles. And this will be how we get our first victories. However, it will be difficult for us to escape unharmed and our life bar more or less affected, to face the next group of enemies. That will be the general threat of the game. A scenario that practically does not allow alternatives when going from one place to another will take us from one to another group of enemies. Each of these groups requires the analysis of their positions, Of their routines of movement and the preparation of how we are going to face them. It is evident that, given the difficulties of combat, it is most likely to use infiltration and try to avoid confrontation. The problem is that this is also not easy except for Shadow, who is specialized in stealth.
Confrontation after confrontation, we will have to suffer death, many times, perhaps too many times … until we come up with a formula that will allow us to survive the group of enemies. The problem? That once you beat one group there will be another, and another … There are two elements in action become fundamental. The first are the rocks that allow us to recover 100% health. Just touch them but, of course, you have to reach them. The second, another rock that allows us to save the game at that point and that will be our next “respawn.” Regardless of the objectives of the game, ours will be to reach these points, as the only possibility to advance in the adventure.
In fact, on occasions when we are near a health stone, we will try to bring the combat to it, so that we can constantly heal and have a chance of success in a fight against a whole group of enemies who, on the other Way, would be unassuming. The use of successive storage points and different to those that allow us to recover health, forces us to a very old school dynamics, where we have to assess if once reached the point of saving, we should save or not, since, From that moment, our subsequent reappearances will be with the health of which we have arrived there and perhaps it is more appropriate to try again to reach that point with something more guarantees for the future …
In short, when our dwarves meet and must face the dangers together, combining their skills. This, which might seem an advantage, directly affects the difficulty of each combat. The number of enemies is also multiplied, and the fact of having two or three controllable characters simultaneously gives the feeling that what multiplies are the possibilities of doing things wrong. So, if you think it was difficult to find a good strategy to eliminate a group of enemies counting only four skills before, now that we have the skills of the three dwarves, who fight together, supporting each other, but we get a longer slow motion mode.
The problem with the title, in order to advance successfully in action, it is necessary to do everything well; Point to the exact point, shoot at the right time, calculate the recoil of the weapon, the time remaining on the next shot and the one that will cost the enemy to reach us, avoid the plants, marshes and other dangers of the stage … and That multiplied by controlling three characters simultaneously in the game, like unique form to play it.
On the other side, we find that the control of the characters is too clumsy, their response to our firing orders and movement are affected by their position at that time and time Which is going to cost him to turn and shoot, numb by elements of a stage careful enough, but that makes the mistake of not clearly indicating which elements are ornamental or passable … in short, although we do plan perfectly, the result does not have to be the desired one, because there are a multitude of factors that are almost impossible to predict and that end up us failing in the action.
A clear example of the extent to which this degree of frustration can come is perfectly represented with the final bosses. With disproportionate resistance and damage, they do not have a specific movement and attack routine. So there is no clear indicator of how to perfect our strategy to end it. The only tactic is to try again and again until finally, we are lucky that some of our dwarfs survive and we can continue to advance.
Add that dwarfs can improve their abilities and endurance by using some power stones hidden on the stage. In order to find them, in many cases, it is necessary to turn the camera to see where they are hidden or to visit the corners of the map, but most of the times the stones are in the center of a horde of enemies that we can avoid and continue to advance to the next level. And that option, being able to leave the stones behind, without picking them up, is another problem. Simply because we can not do without them. At the highest levels it is required that the dwarves have evolved their role to face each fight with guarantees. But if we have not chosen to strive at the time, when that time comes,
Even so, all other difficulties of the game can be saved and are part of the challenge. The title has 18 levels and one end. It is not that the game itself is excessively difficult; What makes it complicated to overcome is its own mechanics. The fact of facing every minute of departure as the need to die to propose a strategy and improve it by dying, above all, is not fun. And that’s the problem of We are the Dwarves !, the satisfaction it generates in overcoming each level, is not up to the difficulties and frustration that has caused us to achieve it.
We are the Dwarves! Has a lot of good things. We liked the approach, the way the fighting is dealt with, the distribution of functions and abilities between three characters, the design, and quality of the scenarios and even the price. It emphasizes above all and attempts to do something new, different, which is greatly appreciated. It would be a remarkable game, essential this year for fans of hack and slash.
However, after a time of play ends up frustrating and, worse, exhausting. Once we have managed to unite all the dwarves and the contribution to the action that involves the combination of their abilities, having already seen special levels, such as those developed in zero gravity, we can only end up with horde after Horde of enemies and, although it seems that the options are almost infinite, the reality is different. The fighting becomes increasingly difficult to face, monotonous, having to send the dwarves back to death, repeating over and over again…
Every game always has a feeling behind it, a subjective feeling that makes them good games. To be, it does not even have to be fun, be flashy, addictive … but you have to leave the feeling that you want to continue playing. We Are The Dwarves is an excellent project, its execution causes that, after several hours of game, you do not have that feeling, on the contrary, it exhausts you.