Dungeon Keeper

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Dungeon Keeper
North American box art for Dungeon Keeper
Developer(s) Bullfrog Productions
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Designer(s) Peter Molyneux
Composer(s) Russell Shaw
Series Dungeon Keeper
Engine Modified Magic Carpet engine
Platform(s) PC (DOS, Windows 95, 98, 2000 & XP)
Release date(s)
  • NA 26 June 1997[1]
Genre(s) Real-time strategy, god game, dungeon management game
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Dungeon Keeper is a strategy video game developed by Bullfrog Productions under Peter Molyneux and released by Electronic Arts in July 1997 for the PC in which the player attempts to build and manage a dungeon or lair while protecting it from invading 'hero' characters intent on stealing the player's accumulated treasures and killing various monsters. This was Molyneux's final project with Bullfrog before he left the company in August 1997 to form Lionhead Studios.


A player navigates the built-up dungeon with the Hand of Evil.

The player uses a mouse, represented in-game as a hand, to interact with a bar on the left-hand side of the screen, allowing them to select which rooms to build and which spells to cast. The player can also use the hand to pick up creatures and objects in the dungeon and carry them around, allowing for tactics such as gathering an assault force and dropping off the creatures en masse once a foothold has been established. The hand also allows the player to "slap" objects and thereby interact with them: creatures will hurry up when slapped, some traps will be triggered and prisoners in the Torture Chamber can be tortured.

The main game view is in isometric perspective; this view can be zoomed and rotated. The player also has the option of possessing one of their creatures, and seeing the dungeon from that creature's first-person perspective, as well as using their attacks and abilities. The map is divided into a grid of rectangles, most of which are invisible. A smaller part of the map is shown as a minimap in the top left corner of the screen.

A world map is also available, and at the beginning of the game the player is allocated one of the 20 regions of a fictional, idyllic country to destroy. As the player progresses through these regions, each of which represents a level of the game, the areas previously conquered will appear ransacked, twisted, and evil. Before starting a new level, the Mentor (voiced by Richard Ridings)[2] will tell the player about the current region and its attributes. After completing a level, the Mentor will talk about the "improvement" of the destroyed region: "The streets run with the blood of the slain. Screams of pain and howls of anguish rip the night air like a vengeful siren's song. This really is somewhere you can take the kids for the weekend."


The Dungeon Heart represents the Dungeon Keeper's own link to the world. If it is destroyed, the player loses the level, and must restart. Along with the heart, the player begins with a small number of imps, the generic work force for all dungeon activities: they can dig tunnels into the surrounding soil, capture enemy rooms and Portals, mine gold and gems, set traps, and even attack when desperate or threatened. Slapping creatures forces them to work faster for a while, but removes some of their health and happiness.

Once the Imps are busily working, the player must then set up a basic infrastructure: Lairs for monsters, a Hatchery (where chickens, which serve as food for the minions, are bred), and a Treasury for storing gold. After connecting the dungeon to a "Portal", monsters will arrive. The types of monster that will arrive depends on the rooms possessed, and how large they are: the Bile Demon, for example, requires both a Lair and a Hatchery of at least 25 (5×5) units. As the game progresses, the player moves along a technology tree, unlocking further rooms.

Some creatures are only accessible through special means. Creating a Prison room and leaving friendly or enemy creatures in it will result in Skeletons. Having an enemy or friendly creature die in a Torture Chamber will result in a Ghost. Dead enemies taken to a Graveyard room will result in a Vampire being born (although it is possible to attract Vampires through the Portal in some levels).

The strongest creature is the Avatar (appears only on the last level) and the second strongest is the Horned Reaper. To obtain the Horned Reaper, a Dark Mistress, Bile Demon and Troll must be sacrificed in the Temple Room. If left doing nothing, Horned Reapers will become angry and start attacking the player's other creatures. This can be avoided by ensuring the Horned Reaper is busy at all times. They will only go berserk if left to their own devices. Researching, training, praying in a Temple and patrolling a guard post all keep the Horned Reaper happy. Some players like to create a separate lair, hatchery, treasure room and training room covered by a locked door in order to keep a Reaper for any length of time. They are excellent in battle and immune to lava.

The dungeon has a fleshed-out ecology: some creatures are natural enemies. Flies and Spiders are often found at odds with one another, while a Horned Reaper, if it has gone berserk, will attack all creatures in its path. The Horned Reaper does have one natural enemy though; if a lord of the land is seen by the Horned Reaper, the creature will, without any sort of regard for his allies (or his health for that matter), rush straight at him. At the same time, Warlocks find it incredibly annoying if other races wander through their library, and Warlocks above level 1 respond by attacking intruders. Warlocks particularly dislike Vampires. Skeletons and Bile Demons are also natural enemies, being opposites. Also Samurai (when controlled by the player) can cause fights with a Dark Mistress when resting in the same lair.

The goals for each level are fairly straightforward: they generally fall along the lines of eliminating the heroic force or destroying all other Dungeon Keepers on the level.

The final boss of the game, the Avatar, is the same Avatar from Ultima 8.

Sequels and expansions[edit]

The Deeper Dungeons[edit]

The Deeper Dungeons is an expansion pack that was released on 30 November 1997 in North America.[3] It features 15 new levels and an improved artificial intelligence for the enemies.

Dungeon Keeper Gold Edition[edit]

Dungeon Keeper Gold Edition was released 31 December 1998, in North America.[4] It was not a sequel but a repackaging. It contained the original game, Deeper Dungeons, 3D patches, a game editor, and a novella. The book recounted the story of a hero killed while exploring the dungeons. Most of the additions were put on Bullfrog's website. The Gold Edition was discontinued but later repackaged and redistributed by EA Digital Illusions CE.

Dungeon Keeper 2[edit]

Main article: Dungeon Keeper 2

Dungeon Keeper 2 was released in June 1999. It used a new game engine that natively supported hardware acceleration. Its predecessor supported Direct3D but only with an alternative executable. The sequel also used full-3D models for the creatures and enemies, rather than sprites.

Dungeon Keeper 3[edit]

Main article: Dungeon Keeper 3

Dungeon Keeper 3 was in development, but was later cancelled. Some Dungeon Keeper 2 CDs contained a trailer showing some features of Dungeon Keeper 3; among them were above-land battles. One member of Bullfrog Productions stated on his personal website that Dungeon Keeper 3 was going to be named War for the Overworld.[5] The project was discontinued because, according to Ernest W. Adams (one of the developers), Bullfrog had decided not to make any other real-time strategy games. The decision was, in effect, the end of Bullfrog as a brand; the company had already been owned by Electronic Arts for several years. EA laid off some employees and put the remainder onto other projects such as the Harry Potter line.

Dungeon Keeper Online[edit]

1 December 2008, NetDragonWebsoft Inc., a Chinese online game developer, announced it had partnered with Electronic Arts to develop a massively multiplayer online role-playing game based on the Dungeon Keeper license.[6] The game is slated to appear only in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.[7]

Dungeon Keeper Mobile[edit]

In August 2013, EA and Mythic Entertainment announced that they were creating a "twisted take" on Dungeon Keeper for both Android and iOS mobile devices with a release date set for winter of the same year.[8]

On 10 October 2013, Dungeon Keeper Mobile soft-launched on Google Play and iOS App Store.[9] The program became fully available on 19 December 2013.[10] The game is free-to-play (Freemium).[11] EA provides an official website (http://www.dungeonkeeper.com) featuring among others a forum and in-game information.

On July 2, 2014 Advertising Standards Authority (United Kingdom) banned a Dungeon Keeper ad for misrepresenting the game.[12]


Dungeon Keeper Mobile play style breaks from the original model. It is a long term tower defense game played over time similar to Clash of Clans.


Dungeon Keeper Mobile has received overwhelmingly negative criticism from game critics and reviewers, who cited its overuse of micro-transactions and unfaithfulness to the original franchise. Jim Sterling of The Escapist called it "A cynically motivated skeleton of a non-game" and "a scam"[13][14] with the game deemed unplayable without spending money to speed up progress.[15] It has also attracted criticism for its rating system mechanic. After a certain intervals, the player is asked to rate the game. Selecting the "5 star" option forwards the user to the App Store or Google Play rating page, while selecting the "1-4 star" option only gives the player the choice of emailing feedback to Electronic Arts. In order to give the game less than five stars through this prompt, the player must agree to give the game a full five-star rating and then give it a lower one once they reach the review page.[16] Critics have noted that the prompt's claim that "5-Star ratings from you help us provide free updates!" suggests that the games creators will stop providing new content if players don't give the game sufficiently high ratings.[17] As of 10 February 2014, the iOS version of the game has a "generally unfavorable" critical rating of 42/100 on the review aggregating site Metacritic.[18]


Due to the popularity and cult status of the series, many reviews of video games that have similar elements mention Dungeon Keeper as both an influence for the designers and a standard for comparison. These include:


  1. ^ "Dungeon Keeper on PC". GameSpot.com. Retrieved 14 February 2008. 
  2. ^ "Internet Movie Database: Richard Ridings". 
  3. ^ "Dungeon Keeper: The Deeper Dungeons on PC". GameSpot.com. Retrieved 14 February 2008. 
  4. ^ IGNs Data Page [1] Retrieved 27 December 2008
  5. ^ Ernest W. Adams - Game Credits Retrieved at 04-11-07
  6. ^ NetDragonWebsoft - Dugeon Keeper Online Press Release Retrieved 02-12-08
  7. ^ Kotaku - EA Announce Dungeon Keeper MMO Retrieved 02-12-08
  8. ^ Mike Fahey. "Dungeon Keeper Returns... As A Mobile Game". Kotaku. 
  9. ^ Tony Zhang. "Dungeon Keeper Soft-Launched on Google Play and Apple AppStore in some territories". AppsGoer. 
  10. ^ "Dungeon Keeper EA Swiss Sarl - December 20, 2013". 
  11. ^ Phillips, Tom (30 January 2014). "EA launches free-to-play Dungeon Keeper for iOS, Android". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 30 January 2014. 
  12. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (2 July 2014). "UK watchdog bans Dungeon Keeper ad, accuses EA of "misleading" customers". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  13. ^ Sterling, Jim (2 February 2014). "Dungeon Keeper Mobile Review - Wallet Reaper". The Escapist. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  14. ^ http://m.cultofmac.com/cultofmac/#!/entry/dungeon-keeper-really-wants-to-reclaim-its-former-glory-review,52eaa20fe56d0bb8534d198b.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ Ward, Mark (7 February 2014). "BBC News - EA faces criticism over mobile Dungeon Keeper game". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  16. ^ Matulef, Jeffrey (6 February 2014). "Dungeon Keeper Android's rating system filters out "1-4 star" reviews". Eurogamer.net. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  17. ^ Webster, Andrew (30 September 2013). "EA steers angry customers away from reviewing games at Google Play". The Verge. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  18. ^ "Dungeon Keeper for iPhone/iPad Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 11 February 2014. 
  19. ^ "PC Lego Rock Raiders review". 
  20. ^ "Startopia review". 
  21. ^ "Evil Genius Review". 
  22. ^ "Ghost Master review". 
  23. ^ "Review:Dwarf Fortress". 
  24. ^ "Overlord review". 
  25. ^ "Holy Invasion of Privacy, Badman! is the Dungeon Keeper of this Decade". 22 October 2009. 
  26. ^ "Dungeon Overlord Review: If You Loved Dungeon Keeper...". 
  27. ^ "Dungeon Lords". 
  28. ^ "Dungeon Keeper". 
  29. ^ Fraser Brown (2 February 2013). "Impire is Dungeon Keeper with a side of Dawn of War". Destructoid. 
  30. ^ "Update #11: Kickstarter Demo Release, New Video". 
  31. ^ "A Message From Peter Molyneux, The Creator of Dungeon Keeper". 
  32. ^ Jeremy Parish. "The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot: A Competitive Dungeon Crawler That Hates Archers". USGamer. 

External links[edit]