Empires and Dungeons is a downloadable fantasy/strategy game for Windows created by Niels Bauer Games. It's been receiving a lot of praise for its stripped-down mechanics and surprisingly captivating gameplay. Taking on the role of a medieval emperor, you must gather resources to help build an army, both to attack your rivals and to defend your castle. Along the way you'll venture into deep dungeons, meet mysterious traders, pillage in the name of the empire and much, much more. Empires and Dungeons successfully pulls some of the best aspects from several rather complex genres and distills it into something every gamer can enjoy.
Simple graphics and simple point-and-click gameplay, Empires and Dungeons is reminiscent of the classic days of computer gaming. You begin on the overworld map and explore by clicking adjacent grid squares. Icons will randomly appear on the screen signifying resources you can acquire or other events you can investigate. Your overarching goal is to gather gold and materials to build structures, hire an army, and defeat your rivals. However, each scenario drops a new obstacle in your path to glorious victory, requiring you to complete a few tasks or seek impossible treasures to reach your goal.
Much of your time will be spent crawling through caverns in the combat portion of the game. Randomly generated dungeons appear on the map, giving you the option to enter in search of gold, treasure, and battle. Defeating foes earns you respect in the eyes of your army which ultimately allows you to construct more complex buildings and hire better fighters. The gold you gather here is also important, making dungeon battles a central focus of the game.
Even with all the things to explore and do, Empires and Dungeons suffers from a bit of gameplay redundancy. Fantastic surprises don't happen every few minutes, leaving you to deal with the mundane a bit too often. There's also a lot of text that isn't necessary after you read it once, yet it still pops on screen, hampering the action and forcing you to close the window before continuing.
Although it's designed for the casual gamer in mind, Empires and Dungeons has enough content to satisfy seasoned strategy/RPG gamers. The interface is straightforward, but there's also a thorough tutorial available and help is always a mouse-click away.
Empires and Dungeons does a great job of culling the most riveting and entertaining aspects of fantasy role-playing and strategy games and compiling them into a single title. Give the demo a try and see if it's your cup of tea. If you enjoy it, the full version opens a whole new realm of possibilities, giving you a dozen different scenarios, new items, monsters, even the ability to breed dragons. Moreover, should you decide to purchase the full version, your purchase will help support this site.