Dungeons 3

Game review by
David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media
Dungeons 3 Game Poster Image
Strategy game boosts difficulty, muddles empire management.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Conquering, killing heroes of the land, expanding your evil empire are messages here. Few positives overwhelmed by being the bad guy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players take on the role of the villain in this game, conquering good lands, expanding their territory. Even heroes have some questionable approaches to attacking the player.

Ease of Play

Quirky interface, lots of controls, multiple maps to juggle simultaneously.

Violence

Trolls, goblins, mages, other characters use swords, knives, arrows, magic attacks to hack, slash enemy soldiers. Blood splashes during battle, can linger on battlefield. Cut-scenes also show brief "cartoony" gore: a head impaled on a spike, a severed foot, a head used as a chalice by a demon. 

Sex

Some levels show succubus demons wearing outfits that expose deep cleavage. 

Language

"S--t" appears in dialogue.

Consumerism

Two other entries in this series. Players may want to investigate, purchase previous games.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Players can build a brewery; characters sometimes drink from mugs, tankards, barrels.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dungeons 3 is a downloadable real-time strategy game, meaning players manage multiple units, harvest resources, and defend their base while seeking out and conquering the enemy's base. Despite warfare and megalomania being a central theme, violence is presented in cartoony though ghoulish ways. Trolls, goblins, mages, and other characters use swords, knives, arrows, and magic attacks to hack and slash at enemy soldiers; blood splashes occur during battle and can linger on the battlefield. Cut-scenes that further the narrative show other instances of cartoonish gore: a head impaled on a spike, a severed foot, a head used as a chalice by a demon. Some levels show succubus demons wearing outfits that expose deep cleavage. The word "s--t" appears in the dialogue. Finally, players can build a brewery, and characters sometimes drink from mugs, tankards, or barrels.

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What's it about?

In DUNGEONS 3, the Dungeon Lord has successfully united the forces of evil and established his dark empire. It's only then that he realizes the next step in his most diabolical quest: expansion! Through enticing the dark elf priestess Thalya from the fluffy clutches of the surface world to become his chief lieutenant, the Dungeon Lord has found a way to direct his campaign of conquest from the confines of his underground lair. With Thalya on the front line, and the united forces of evil to support her, players will have to use every trick in the book to best those do-gooders of the overworld once and for all.

Is it any good?

It's taken three entries in this real-time strategy series to finally get the formula right, but unfortunately the whole is lesser than the sum of its parts. Whereas Dungeons 1 was focused on dungeon management, Dungeons 2 infused more real-time strategy elements. Dungeons 3 scoops up all the ideas that have been tried to date and attempts to refine them. The now-familiar basics are still present and on display here: You build a staggering variety of rooms to fortify your dungeon and set traps to make it terrifying for invading heroes to navigate. You also patrol the topside, doing plenty of invading yourself. At times, even though these are both hallmarks of the series, it can frequently feel like two generic, confusing, and repetitive smaller games bolted onto each other. There may not be a nice way to say this, but any of those complaints by themselves would make the whole thing more tolerable. As it is, the game in general is a slog that actually seems to take pride in being generic.

Although the inclusion of a tutorial helps matters somewhat, there's no getting around the fact that managing what you're supposed to be doing and the requisite flow chart of what to construct in order to do that is simply befuddling to series newcomers. It may be unreasonable to expect the third entry in a series to generously extend lots of help, but you can easily get lost even on these tutorials -- which doesn't bode well for the rest of the game's sizable campaign. This is further complicated by what the game gets right: The difficulty has been raised, and there are double the maps, more room types, more creature types, and extensive skills and technologies (about 80) to balance. The inclusion of multiplayer skirmish and sandbox modes may actually be a better way of getting your bearings than the campaign, though it's really saying something about the overall experience when not dealing with the majority of the content included in here is more appealing. For all the game's forced attempts at humor, there's very little here to charm or invite you deeper in. It might have gotten the formula right here, but the series is arguably still finding its legs.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in media. Is the violence in Dungeons 3 OK because it has a cartoonish presentation, or is it problematic simply because it exists?

  • You play as the villain in Dungeons 3. Even though characters whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot, are there people in real life who are just villains? Or is it more complicated than that? How does playing as a villain in a video game help you better understand people in real life who get called "evil"?

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