Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
I’d all but fallen out of PC gaming by the time Dungeon Keeper 2 arrived, but a combination of my student house increasingly preferring electronic entertainment (primarily Tekken) over nightclubs and the news that one of my most beloved games was getting a sequel prompted me to request a graphics card for my birthday. And lo, I got to play DK2 with rudimentary 3D acceleration. I believed it to be beautiful.
In fact it now looks, if anything, worse than DK1, as early 3D tends to age more than 2D does, while some of the character art decisions were highly unwise and seem problematic today. It didn’t have the same personality either, perhaps because the murkier outlines of DK1 let more imagination flow to emphasise the lonely mining of the imps or the terrified Wilhelm screams of a Warlock dropped from a great height.
Most of all, it lacks the freshness that we’d come to expect of Bullfrog at that time, feeling like a straight retread rather than attempting anything wild. But I still feel so very warm towards it. It was comforting to go back to something I knew, with technological improvements and new levels to ‘solve’. And, at the end of it all, the My Pet Dungeon mode – a true sandbox, wherein I could build to my heart’s content, trigger fights only when I felt appropriately sadistic, and best of all burn away hours simply tinkering. A fine way to avoid work or loneliness.
It’s not the sequel Dungeon Keeper deserved, but I could never hate it.