Dungeon Keeper

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This article is about the original 1997 game. For the entire series, see Dungeon Keeper (series).
Dungeon Keeper
North American box art for Dungeon Keeper
Developer(s) Bullfrog Productions
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Designer(s) Peter Molyneux
Programmer(s) Jonty Barnes
Dene Carter
Alex Peters
Composer(s) Russell Shaw
Series Dungeon Keeper
Platform(s) DOS
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 and released by Electronic Arts in July 1997 for DOS. In Dungeon Keeper, the player builds and manage a dungeon while protecting it from invading 'hero' characters intent on stealing the player's accumulated treasures and killing various monsters.


A player navigating 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. As the game progresses, the player moves along a technology tree, unlocking further rooms.

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 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.



Dungeon Keeper was developed by Bullfrog Productions under Peter Molyneux for the PC. The game was released by Electronic Arts in July 1997. This was Molyneux's final project with Bullfrog before he left the company in August 1997 to form Lionhead Studios.

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.


After years of non-availability, Dungeon Keeper was re-released into digital distribution on gog.com on June 2011.[5]


A sequel, Dungeon Keeper 2, was released in June 1999. A third game for the PC was in development but was cancelled. The series made a return in 2013, with a mobile game.


  1. ^ "Dungeon Keeper on PC". GameSpot.com. Archived from the original on 22 January 2009. Retrieved 14 February 2008. 
  2. ^ "Internet Movie Database: Richard Ridings". 
  3. ^ "Dungeon Keeper: The Deeper Dungeons on PC". GameSpot.com. Archived from the original on 10 October 2007. Retrieved 14 February 2008. 
  4. ^ IGNs Data Page Retrieved 27 December 2008
  5. ^ Walker, John (2011-06-03). "Good Old Games Add Good Old EA Games". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 2015-12-19. 

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