We Are the Dwarves is a tactical real-time strategy game by Whale Rock Games, which focuses on a group of three dwarves who are forced to explore an unknown planet in order to secure survival for their entire race. You largely play as three astronauts on an exploration mission, each utilizing their unique skills in order to press on in unfamiliar, hostile territory. Does We Are the Dwarves offer a new, interesting experience, or does it crash and burn? Let’s find out.
The Dwarven stars are slowly dying out, causing the race to fear that they may soon be snuffed out. Three dwarves with a particular set of skills (their daughter was not kidnapped) head an expedition to the Endless Stone, with the mission to find a new star on which their people can survive. An accident causes the expedition to go awry, and the brave astronaut dwarves instead must fight for survival in a very unfamiliar land. The story, overall, is fairly interesting and littered about with voice acting. While some of the voice acting leaves a fair amount to be desired, the story, overall, is quite reasonable for a game in the real-time strategy genre.
In We Are the Dwarves, players will control three characters named Forcer, Smashfist and Shadow, each of whom carries their own weight with a unique set of equipment and abilities. Forcer, for example, carries a shotgun with him and is capable of crowd clearing at close-range, or pinpoint strikes at further range- he’s the character you use to clear away multiple enemies at a time. Smashfist uses hammers to deal high amounts of damage in extreme close-quarters combat, making him the preferred choice against single, tough foes. Shadow, on the other hand, is the stealthy character who is capable of sneaking around and stabbing targets with his two daggers. Utilizing the strengths of each dwarf is paramount to success in this game, as most enemy encounters function like puzzles with, “Reload from the last checkpoint/save” as the punishment for failure.
It’s very important that players going into We Are the Dwarves understand its major concept: It is part of the RTS genre, and it controls and looks like one, but still lays separate from many RTS games due to the fact that most encounters are pre-determined, and set up more like puzzles that the player must overcome. Attempting an incorrect solution to a, “puzzle” will typically lead to the player being killed, and then having to restart. These kinds of elements are plainly visible in the game’s tutorial, even, because the first time you click to attack an enemy as Forcer, the momentum behind his shotgun’s shells should easily carry at least one of the targeted foes off of a cliff, giving you one less thing to worry about as you proceed to kill the other two enemies that lay in wait within seconds of beginning the game. Utilizing the unique skills of the dwarves, alongside the cliffs, explosive plants, and more in the environments themselves, is important to survive each encounter presented in We Are the Dwarves.
Proceeding through this game can be a pretty daunting task- especially toward the beginning, during the times in which you’re still becoming acclimated to the controls and exactly what the game will allow you to do with your characters. Simple indigenous patrols are capable of ending one of your characters should you not properly plan your attack during the encounters, and oftentimes new things will be introduced (flora that scream when shot or produce noise as you pass by to alert enemies, for example) that can cause you to mishandle a scenario your first time experiencing it. It’s a very solid game, but it can be difficult at times and seems to do so on purpose.
We Are the Dwarves uses a fully 3D engine in which you can rotate the camera around your characters by using the right mouse button, so you’ll be needing to spin the camera around quite a bit to always have the right perspective to see what you’re attacking or collecting. There are a variety of indigenous creatures with varying designs, as well as a good number of different locations. The art style is quite suitable for such a game, and while the graphic fidelity isn’t going to be winning any awards, it’s more than reasonable for its price. The sound design could have used a fair amount of work, however, as audio glitches were pretty rampant in the game, from some objects making no sound at all, strange audio errors during cutscenes, and more.
We Are the Dwarves is a pretty solid real-time strategy game with lots of adventure elements. It’s difficult, especially at first, and you’re very often expected to die and try again until the proper strategy for surviving an encounter succeeds. It looks and controls like your everyday RTS game, with little puzzles littered throughout that you need to overcome to make it to the next save stone or mission. If you enjoy being constantly challenged by new and unique situations presented to you, then you may find a lot to enjoy in We Are the Dwarves. If restarting because you failed multiple times frustrates you, then you may want to stay far away from this particular title. Those who enjoyed XCOM or Banner Saga may very well enjoy We Are the Dwarves, though this doesn’t have the production values to keep up with the former. Those wanting something just a little bit different from the usual RTSs can find a good amount to love at a good price in We Are the Dwarves.