Dungeon management is an idea not nearly explored enough in video games. We have classics like 1997’s Dungeon Keeper or unique spins like this year's Evil Genius but looking at them always made me wonder “Why don’t we see more of this?” Legend of Keepers seemed to have thought the same thing but its promising goals fail to live up to the description on the back of the proverbial box. Although it offers a pretty fun experience, it never reaches the heights its namesake promises.
In Legend of Keepers, you take the role of the boss of a dungeon and you must keep it safe from brave adventurers. You do so by preparing traps, training armies, and acquiring spells. Unfortunately, it's immediately clear how shallow the dungeon management system actually is. Rooms are stationary and most fights feel the exact same. One might expect, from looking at the store page, that you can customize your dungeon effectively and really get into the nitty-gritty of it all but it never actually offers this experience. You go from place to place, fighting in predesigned dungeons with pre-chosen paths.
Despite this, there are plenty of choices to be made throughout runs that do keep it pleasantly entertaining. Essentially, you have three central ways to fight enemies before they reach your boss. Trap rooms have you place a trap from your inventory that does a specified attack. It could hit morale, health or activate some form of weakness. If you hit an enemy with poison at the very start of a fight, that will do the most damage in the long run. This being said, you might aim for one chunk of damage for someone to die quicker or to hit all enemies to bring health down slowly. Like the traps, magic rooms have you choose a spell on the fly to impeded advancers.
Magic is generally a little more contextual than traps as you choose what to use as the enemy gets to you. Working with a little more information, you can use that to your advantage. Finally, some rooms have you arm up with soldiers. You can pick a beefy character designed to withstand attacks or someone more specialized to do lots of damage upfront. Whilst these are fun ways of dealing with moment-to-moment combat, clear winners become apparent quite quickly. Within a few fights, the best defenders show themselves and you can clear everyone else out.
Legend of Keepers has a few ways of dealing with a player too accustomed to a set of characters. There’s a fatigue system for fighters that take a little chunk of their stamina every time they’re downed in combat. You must rest up between weeks or take a penalty in the form of a long break if you miss it. This means you have to choose fighters you’re less comfortable with or risk losing them for the really tough fights. When enemies get to your fighters, combat becomes a very basic turn-based RPG. Each character has a handful of moves that they can use, which becomes a little larger as they level up. A comfortable player chooses the way they want to defeat invaders from the start and sticks with it. Unfortunately, there isn't much reward for going outside your comfort zone.
The week-to-week loop is kept fresh through optional events and main decisions. Every decision you make pushes the time forward one week, where a new option faces you. Where, one week, you might have to fight an extra tough set of invaders, another will be spent training your army. One mystery event could have someone find some contraband or have another acquire a level from an ancient book. Decisions never get too wild or permanent but they stay light-hearted and fun enough to get a smile out of you every now and then.
Legend of Keepers tries many things but only really succeeds in being a relatively fun RPG. The pixelated visuals add a nostalgic charm and the sound design fades into the background subtly enough for it to work. This is a game that finds a good home on the Switch. It never blew me away but provided a fun experience to tap through on the sofa. It doesn’t linger on the mind after you put it down and it doesn't have you thinking of new strategies to try and items to use but not everything needs to do this. As a small aside from everything else, it's a worthwhile addition to the Eshop
Legend of Keepers Review | Final Thoughts
Goblinz Publishing has a knack for interesting games that are just steps away from being great. Neurodeck brought an intriguing idea to a standard deck builder and left feeling afraid to branch out. Snowtopia had a few too many technical issues for a good trip. Legend of Keepers pushes the boat out but falls narrowly from greatness. Whilst the setup is good, little actual dungeon management and a fairly samey gameplay loop leave the dungeon feeling a little unexplored.
TechRaptor reviewed Legend of Keepers on Nintendo Switch using a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PC.
- A Good Idea...
- Jovial Tone
- Fun Gameplay Loop
- ...That Never Reaches its potential
- Little Actual Dungeon Management
- Not as Extensive as it Could be