Initially released for the PC only and then ported to the Xbox One, We Are The Dwarves comes to the PlayStation 4 with a reinvented control scheme and updated graphics. Three dwarven astronauts — Forcer, Smashfist, and Shadow — crash-land on a swamp planet populated by fish people and insectoids as a dark power resides in the Earth that prevents them from leaving. This prompts them to go forth in order to solve the issue and also save its inhabitants from the cruel pirates that terrorize them. It definitely piques the interest of anyone into fantasy-adventures but is it something that is worth the time to play?
Interesting concept and story: Each of the dwarves have great designs and powers to match their personalities, with a clear history to their culture and why they’re there. It’s suffice to say that there was a history drawn up just for the game that could be potentially explored greater in future sequels. The enemies you face all have interesting concepts to their appearance as there’s clear distinctions within the hierarchy of the fish pirates/insects. Although some things were confusing, such as the fish pirates having shamans among their ranks, the world still made sense within the universe they’re in as magic is a normal thing.
Unique game-play for each character: The three dwarves each have unique abilities such as Shadow presenting stealth game-play as his theme. Although the other two are more aggressive players, they each have their own traits that clearly distinguish them from one another. This was a fun aspect to We Are The Dwarves, especially when they had levels when they were on their own. Shadow needed to circumvent enemy forces in order to get back and it was riveting trying to figure out patterns in the enemies’ movement, take them out with the bow if they were isolated, and plan your path from cover to cover. Forcer is the only one with a gun and energy shield but that made him a support character that assisted greatly when all three of them were together in certain levels.
Zero-gravity concept that wasn’t explored enough: There was one level, in particular, that stood out to me and that was when Forcer was in zero-gravity thanks to the planet’s unstable magic. Forcer encompassed himself in his shield and floated around, making the player shoot in the opposite direction in order to maneuver to his target. You needed to avoid black holes that appeared that were instant-death and also ensure to not hit floating enemies with the shield as it could break after too many impacts. This Anomaly level was entertaining and never used again at all in the story but had so much potential to give Forcer more play-time and give the player a break from the typical combat.
Strange controls: After checking out the game-play mechanics while it was on PC, they converted the button scheme to match for its strategy theme. Each character can be selected independently or all can be chosen at once to advance; they can attack as a unit or be placed in strategic positions to make use of their unique move-sets in tandem. Not only that, but the pause feature can be used to place your next movement mid-battle in case it all becomes overwhelming. This just didn’t seem to play well as Forcer and Smashfist are just so noticeable by the enemy, making Shadow sometimes the only choice when tackling sensitive areas or only going all out with Forcer/Smashfist, causing Shadow to die from his naturally lower health. Oftentimes you’ll select one of the dwarves for completing the level and leaving the others behind until it’s all done to move on.
Voice actors make me cry: What I mean is they don’t make me cry in a good way. It almost feels like some of them are attempting to go for the Scottish accent but are doing horribly at it. It hurts to listen to and, many times, each of them come off as monotonous with the worst one out of the three being Shadow who isn’t even trying for an accent. Listening to their conversations with one another was like pulling teeth, to be honest.
Barely any dialogue between the dwarves: What would have been cool to add into the game would be conversations between these three kin during your adventures like idle talk. Leaving them alone together or when they join could have spurred some memories to crop up between them and also enlighten the player on more history of the world or their ancestry. We see little tidbits throughout the story of how these dwarves interact with one another but are left disappointed when the majority of their dialogue is either stating the obvious about where they need to go or only talking to people that need to be rescued.
AI detection is through the roof: The AI can detect you through sight, sound, smell and touch which makes you think when approaching certain ones. Easy mode has enemies that can detect you from the slightest sound, it’s extremely frustrating while trying to navigate as Shadow through levels. There are also some maps that have special conditions that the player is unaware of, such as enemies sounding an alarm when they notice a regularly patrolling ally missing. This, during one mission especially, wasn’t made clear and was so infuriating and hopefully for any sequels to this game there’s clearer options to completing an area or what conditions will cause an alarm. Also, there would be random points when repeating a level after failure that an enemy who never noticed you before is suddenly alarmed when you do the exact same approach.
Maps look the same and model collisions: Nothing stood out in particular and the fact that it was a swamp world started to get annoying after awhile. Aspects that the player will get agitated with include sinking into the swamp and getting the death screen too often, even when you don’t believe it’s fair, or getting trapped into corners when your companions are blocking you with their hulking figures. There’s also not enough warning when your health is dropping below a certain point which angers the player especially when there could have been just a simple sound file included that lets them know sooner (i.e. Halo‘s beeping sound when Master Chief’s energy shield is down).
To answer my initial question, you can use your time and give it a shot. We Are The Dwarves may not be the most polished game out there but it definitely has interesting game-play to take a look at. The voice acting was abysmal and there were many frustrating moments throughout the entire game, even on Easy setting, but other than that I’d like to see a better funded sequel as it clearly has its own history to explore. For anyone looking for something different than their typical hack n slash or strategy titles should check it out but be warned that it can cause many irritating moments.
- Graphics - 68%68%
- Gameplay - 71%71%
- Controls - 57%57%
- Sound - 65%65%
- Replay Value - 15%15%
Consider Picking Up
We Are The Dwarves was developed by Whale Rock Games and published by Koei Tecmo. It was released for the PlayStation 4 [reviewed] on March 28th, 2017 in North America and March 29th in Europe. It was previously released for the Xbox One on February 24th. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.
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