Dungeon Keeper

Bullfrog's strategy classic is reborn as a free-to-play Clash of Clans clone. Ouch.

In Terry Pratchett's sublime parody of Faust, simply titled Eric, the Demon King of Hell Astfgl adopts a radical new approach to facilitating the suffering of the eternally damned. Rather than a chaotic nightmare of fire and brimstone where the air is filled with the screams of tortured souls, Asftgl's vision of hell is a bureaucratic heaven, one in which the demons wear cheerful name badges with "How May I Help You?" scribbled on them, and where, before a soul embarks upon a punishment of Sisyphean Labour, they must first be read all 1,440 volumes of the Unhealthy and Unsafety Regulations governing the Lifting and Moving of Large Objects.

A recent survey of 10 million mobile gamers claimed only 2.2 per cent of the free-to-play audience spent any money at all. That's worrying - does it mean developers are deliberately designing games to cater for the minuscule minority rather than the vast majority?

Dungeon Keeper review

AvoidDungeon Keeper review

Throw away the key.

Dungeon Keeper is a hard game to review. That's because any critique of this remake of Bullfrog's 1997 PC hit can't help but slide down the slippery slope towards being a critique of free-to-play gaming in general, and that's when people start banging the table and raising their voices and it all goes a bit Jeremy Kyle.

It is, at least, easy to see why EA revived this beloved cult classic in this fashion. Revisit the original Dungeon Keeper today and be amazed at just how many of its ideas have been reborn in mobile games. It was one of the first "tower defence" games, for example, flipping gaming convention upside down by casting the player as an evil tyrant, crafting the most perfectly evil lair in which to trap and kill do-gooder enemies who enter your hallways looking to save the world.

You did this by using an expanding army of imps to dig out new rooms, which you could then use to house traps, treasure and monster-spawning hatcheries. The more you expanded your labyrinth, the more stuff you discovered. The more stuff you discovered, the more new things you could build. It was a near-perfect feedback loop of routine and invention.

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EA launches free-to-play Dungeon Keeper for iOS, Android

EA's new free-to-play version of Dungeon Keeper is now available worldwide to download on iPad, iPhone and Android devices, the publisher has announced.

The game lets players build and maintain an underground lair and defend it from invaders by summoning hordes of imps, trolls and bile demons.

EA describes the app as a "twisted" take on Bullfrog's RTS classic, which launched for PC back in 1997. That version was developed back in the glory days of Peter Molyneux's former former studio.

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