The Dwarves Review
The Dwarves is one of the few games that actually began as a book, and from what I’ve heard – and read myself – the transition from book to screen has been done incredibly well. As I get near completing book one in the series, I realise more and more how much work THQNordic put into recreating this fantasy adventure into a game. Unfortunately, slow pacing and severe hiccups ultimately hinder the ability to really enjoy this very promising title.
Developing a Game
The Dwarves plays very much like a novel; the voice acting is top notch, and all the movements and actions by the main character are described in great detail. There was no cutting corners for this book-turned-game, and it is quite evident from looking at only this one part of development.
Reading a book takes time, and for our 21st century generation, more and more books have become movies, or series’ of movies. Yes, their is ultimately a lot of money to be made by creating movies out of popular book franchises, but there has to be an audience. There is, because everyone wants a 90 minute Harry Potter film instead of a 10 hour book.
That philosophy hasn’t worked well in this situation. Even if you eliminate the game play elements – the large battles, for example, that you can read about in 5 – 10 minutes but take you thirty minutes to play it out – the rest of the game just takes way too long. Whats the point of a narrative driven story if you skip past the excellent voice acting? Skipping past the voice acting takes away from the experience, because you lose the narrators and characters tones, how they interact with other characters, and so on.
Pacing is a severe issue here; for those patient enough, you will be rewarded with a great story, driven by great voice actors who do a good job bringing The Dwarves to life. If you lack the patience, you’ll ultimately quit this game.
Sticking it Out for the Beauty
If the story is not enough to keep you entertained, the beautiful landscapes and environments should be. The Dwarves looks beautiful, both in the over-world where you travel from location to location, and within each small area. THe character designs are also top notch, whether looking at them from afar, or zooming in.
The mechanics also work incredibly well. As a tactical real time strategy game, you will get the opportunity to control 1 or more – to a maximum of 4 – heroes, all with different abilities mapped to the D-Pad. Being strategic is a must, and understanding the move sets of each hero could be the difference between life and death.
That is not the only strategy at play here, however. As each battle is typically a few hero’s against a massive swarm of enemies, half the battle is making sure to keep yourself out of being cornered. That means only using certain heros in certain situations, and looking for higher ground when possible. Keeping a direct line between yourself and your nearest exit is one of the few ways that THQNordic can really stamp the word ‘strategic’ on their title.
Everything for a Cost
As you progress through the narrative driven title, you begin to quickly realise that everything THQNordic has stuffed into this title has a cost. Unfortunately, that cost is frame rate issues, graphical tearing, and other unexplained glitches, which includes somewhat frequent game crashes.
THQNordic has release a press note as of today outlining a patch that will come day 1, and we will make sure to revisit this review after that patch is live. Those patch notes can be seen below.
If the day 1 patch fixes the graphical and frame rate issues, then I can quickly and easily recommend this title. As it stands now, however, there are just a few too many issues. If you love narrative driven titles, can are willing to see what the day 1 patch will do, go ahead and grab it. If not, check back with us by mid week to see how the day 1 patch has changed our opinions.
Day-One Patch will Address Console-Performance Issues
The release of the Fantasy-RPG The Dwarves is just around the corner. We are aware of performance-related issues in the console-builds distributed to media for review purposes. We want to assure that the Dwarves is getting a Day-1-Patch addressing aforementioned issues on Playstation™4 and Xbox One. It will also add some improvements to UI, camera controls and the world map. Here is the list of fixes, that will be going live with release:
Changes for Xbox One and PS4
- Lag-spikes in multiple locations fixed
- Better FPS in multiple combat arenas due to preloading, enemy behavior changes and enhanced trackers
- Better FPS in additional locations due to graphical adjustments/optimizations
- Some texture adjustments (slightly better loading times, reduced potential lag spikes)
- Soft particles in all quality settings
- Updated fog in multiple locations
- Added effects (Steam, smoke) in multiple locations
- Tone-Mapping/HDR adjustments in multiple locations
- Many camera colliders had been optimized for less camera jumps/clipping problems
- Nav-Mesh/Character collider improvements
- UI improvements in Shop-, Level-Up, Party and XP screen; HUB fixes
- Rodarios Fake Death ability works as described now
- Balancing changes in some battles
- Added a hint to the worldmap to show how many days a village will withstand its attackers
- Boindil can’t knock himself out anymore by running into walls
- If the game is paused, there is now an indication for that and an info how to resume
- Sidequest marker for the worldmap
- Additional loading screen tips
- Potential crash bug after restarting Mifurdania Woods fixed
- Potential crash after fighting with Bislipur for the first time fixed
- Bug after introduction of Andokai/Djerun fixed
- Bug after climbing down the oak tree fixed
- It’s no longer possible to be trapped between objects
- Fixed some rendering issues with characters in the UI
- More music in the credits scene
- Added missing supporters to the orc army in the credits scene
- Added a second slot for AutoSaves. Both slots alternate
- Added Chinese language
Total Download-Size for the Patch will be: 7,13 GB on Playstation™4 and 3,09 on Xbox One.
Find the latest assets for The Dwarves on THQ Nordic’s media server:
For all questions regarding The Dwarves please reach out to us – this – evidently – also includes request for review copies:
THQ Nordic PR Team