Behold, minions. The time has come for you to build, ravage, destroy and collect riches. This iOS port of a PC classic gives real time strategy/tower defense/rpg players the chance to build up their own dungeon while destroying everyone else’s. It’s a battle for evil supremacy and it’s a lot of fun to play. If you’ve got the time.

Having never played the PC game that came out in 1997, Dungeon Keeper was a whole new experience for me. I have to admit, I had no idea what the hell I was doing. You’re given a tutorial that walks you through how to manage your rooms, traps, minions, loot and spells. Once the tutorial is finished, you’re on your own. There may be a way to access it again, but with such a crowded and confusing menu system, I had no idea if it was available or not.

The goal is to build your dungeon and protect it from incoming marauders. You can also raid other dungeons through the game’s campaign mode or online. Imps await your orders to dig rocks and create enough space to build various rooms, like Stone Quarries, Treasuries, Warehouses, Workshops, Training Rooms, Torture Chambers, etc. More rooms become available when you upgrade other parts of your dungeon. You can then use these rooms to increase your loot and build your devilish army.

It took me a long time to figure exactly what in the hell I was supposed to be doing and how to do it. Hours later, I feel a bit more comfortable with my tasks, but it still feels like there are things I could be doing better in regards to resource management. I wish there was a helpful hint guide. Maybe there is and I can’t locate it among the 500 buttons plastered on screen.

Electronic Arts

When you’ve built rooms and minions, you next set traps to try and stop opposing invaders. Everything from spike pits to cannons to bug zappers to poison traps are at your disposal. Again, more traps become available after you upgrade rooms to a certain level. Upgrading rooms, traps, etc. costs stones or gold. It’s easy to upgrade most to level 2, but once you get past that, you’re going to have to be patient. You can speed things up by spending gems, but you only have a certain amount of them, and once they’re gone, you can try and collect more by digging, achievements, or just spend real world money, which is where the in-app purchasing kicks in. Spending cash isn’t necessary, but like most free-to-play games, it makes your life a lot easier. Personally, I didn’t have the patience to want to continue upkeeping my dungeon. Everything takes too damn long and once you’re out of gems, you’re pretty much screwed.

The graphics looks great on my iPhone 5, though I wish I were playing this on an iPad. The screen is too small for a game that requires a lot of task management. Plus I want to be able to see my minions kick ass on a bigger screen. For a PC port though, they did a great job with the touch controls. Nothing gets placed where you don’t want it, and even if you screw up digging, you can always fill in a hole and start over.

Electronic Arts

The demon guide voice over was sharp and sounded great, and the sound effects were also really well done. There’s a lot to like in Dungeon Keeper, but again, it depends on how patient of a person you are. You know what you’re getting into with the freemium model. Personally, I’d rather pay a few bucks and just enjoy the gaming experience without having to wait four hours for an imp to dig out a block. Having to wait to rebuild your minion army in-between raids is also a pain in the ass. After a while, I just stopped caring. Which meant that after a while I just stopped playing.

If you enjoy these type of freemium games, then Dungeon Keeper is a worthy download. (And I really enjoyed it the first three days of play, but after a while, I got bored.) If you don’t have the patience, and are tired of games hooking you in only to try and get you to spend money to advance quicker, then this is one dungeon you’re not going to bother keeping.

App Store Link: Dungeon Keeper for iPhone & iPad | By Electronic Arts | Price: Free | Version: 1.0.51 | 87.1 MB | Rating 9+

6.5 out of 10 arcade sushi rating