Despite having finally been released from early access after nearly two years, it’s hard to see where all the “early access” quality assurance efforts have gone. The game remains a buggy and poorly paced mess.
As far as I can tell the game is about strip mining your dungeon, as there is little obvious incentive to construct corridors, rooms and doors. Wall demolition is practically instantaneous, so there is no time cost to be saved. Strip mining also seems necessary to improve pathing (nothing to get stuck behind). In contrast to demolishing walls, however, trap setting is painfully slow, despite having numerous foundries, so there’s no encouragement to spend any time thinking about subtle traps and dungeon layout. Furthermore, each door and trap appears to have a maintenance cost that reduces your overall available mana pool, so there's a perverse disincentive to building any dungeon structures at all.
I’ve yet to crack mission four due to either game breaking bugs or poor pacing. My first game was abandoned because, despite having taken 90% of the map, my flow of minions completely evaporated and I was left watching the one or two I did have lasered by the AI. My second attempt at the mission lagged out, with around one screen refresh every 20 seconds or so – a problem in other maps, although one the game had previously recovered from after a minute or two.
Game boot and load times might easily be the longest of any of the 1300+ games I currently own. It’s a trivial point, but given the elongated load times I spend a lot of time looking at the loading screen, emphasising how bland and amateurish the loading screen looks.
The giant evil hand pointer is vastly too large, and it’s consequently difficult to target precisely, not least because you’re hovering above an isometric 3D plane and it’s often not clear whether you should be clicking on the base of the 3D terrain block or the top of it (which might instead result in selecting the adjacent block instead).
Pathfinding is poor, and minions repeatedly get “lost”, often stuck behind single objects completely out in the open. For example, I had to rescue a mob of about 8 units bouncing off a spawner, despite there being two clear paths on either side. Units often run out of food or don’t get paid, presumably because they can’t route to food or cash, despite half my dungeon being micropig spawners, taverns and treasure.
The minimap is largely worthless, with no clear signaling about where an attack might be coming from, and little attempt to distinguish rooms, enemies, minions, etc.
Ultimately, the game seems primarily a fairly traditional, uninspired RTS; spam barracks (monster spawners or whatever) and rush enemy - he or she who builds the most barracks (or barrack-like spawners) fastest wins. You are basically forced to have all your units running around in one mass mob due to the single rally flag, so any kind of subtle tactics are out.
There may be a good game under the surface here, but after five hours of perseverance I have yet to see it.
edit: I have now flirted with skirmish mode because I desperately want to give this game a chance, and I can see that there's a little bit of complexity here be unlocked, at least as far as research paths. The campaign is the tutorial however, and as the campaign is borked I'm finding skirmish mode to be a little too overhelming to take on for what looks like a fair bit of trial and error to get anything out of. And to be honest, without a campaign to get me hooked, sandbox mode was always going to be a bit too open-ended for my short attention span.