The splendidly named Lunar Giant have just released a demo of their Delve Deeper, which is a multi-player turn-based strategy game of mining and dwarf-exploitation. Oddly, the main reference which comes to mind is old CD32 launch-game Diggers with a splash of Worms and a whole lot more friendliness. And that sentence may as well be Plutonian to most modern readers, and Lunar Giant have failed their Indie Game Marketing entry exams by failing to have any footage of their game online, I’ll explain a little more below…
Basically, it’s a 1-4 player game – either you or AI. You all start on the maps, which are basically randomly generated. In a set number of turns, you have to gather as much of the rich stuff as possible. You have five stunties to help you in the task, which can be Scouts (Good at running), Miners (Good at Carrying Lots of Stuff) or Warriors (Good at twatting nefarious things from the depths and/or other dwarves). Each turn, you get a chance to put down one piece of tunnels – so exposing more of the map – and move each of your fellows. While digging the tunnels reveals surprises, you can also see – out in the darkness – tunnel systems which you can connect to. In true Dwarf-Fortress style, the deeper you dig, the better the treasure gets and the worse the monsters become. Oh – plus artifacts, dragons, etc, etc.
In other words, it’s simple but compulsive. With only five pieces and – in the basic game I played – 15 turns, there’s lots of approaches available. The key risk/reward element is cashing out. You have to actually get your gold to the surface for it to count towards your score. There’s shops beneath the surface you can take your stuff to… but they take a slice of your profits, and you don’t get healed when handing it over. So, how much do you press on? If you go too far, you won’t be able to get your stuff back, and it’ll be pointless. It’s areas like this where the make-up of your team really comes into play, with Miner’s six-slots of stuff giving much higher scoring potentials than the others. And as well as just playing against the level, there’s also the opportunity to go into your opponents areas and just try and mess them up by messing them up… IN THE LANGUAGE OF FIST.
I quite like this, in other words. It’s out on the 24th, so you can’t buy the full version, but I suspect the demo will at least tell you whether or not you’ll be interested.