Delve Deeper
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There's GOLD in them thar hills!

Lunch breaks are so often wasted. All that sitting around, eating ham sandwiches with your work or school mates: "What have you got in yours? Oh, I've got ham. Oh, I'm not really a big fan of tuna... have you seen the weather forecast?"

Gimme a break.

Got a computer? Able to just about survive between breakfast and dinner? Then put the ham sandwiches aside, my friend - there's delving to be done.

‘Delve Deeper' sounds like a sequel, presumably to a game that deals with delving. But no! Lunar Giant Studios thought their game was so awesome, they skip the first delve and go straight to deeper delving. And good for them!

The title is also some pretty good advice for the game. The action takes place entirely underground in one of a number of multiplayer maps. These maps are half-finished mines and dungeons, and your intrepid team of dwarves have to plumb the depths in search of gold, gems and ancient artefacts. All in the name of the barking mad dwarf king who will rib you remorselessly throughout. Other teams of dwarves are down there too, all trying to bring more mithril Benjamins back to the king than you. These are your multiplayer foes, or AI opponents if you're the only one of your friends with the game. There are a ton of monsters, naturally, and the key to success is to make it to the lower levels of the dungeon, which is where the preciousest (it is too a word!) treasures are to be found, guarded by the dangerousest monsters.

The dungeon is incomplete at first, and you'll only have access to a couple of minor gold seams. However, each turn you get to add a new piece of tunnel on to the map, which will reveal more treasure, and also allow you to connect yourself up to other sections of the map. You can add tunnels anywhere you like, not just where your dwarves are hanging out, so you can connect your enemies up to tunnels full of monsters if you favour dark-side tactics.

The whole thing plays out in a turn-based RPG style. Once you've moved all your dwarves, you have to sit through each and every opponent player moving each and every dwarf through each and every tunnel section, then the same for all the monsters. After that, the automatic combat takes place, and you watch all of them regardless of whether it's your dwarf warriors fighting a dragon or a lone opponent dwarf on the other side of the map duking it out with a small gnome. There's a fair amount of sitting about (I hope you've still got those ham sandwiches handy), but the pace at which all these other turns happens is pretty quick, and can be tweaked to be quicker. Also, sometimes it is important to see how the other guy is doing. Still, it can be tedious at times, waiting for your turn. Fortunately, the dwarf king gives a running commentary on proceedings, and he's a sarcastic sonofagun.

Overall, I liked Delve Deeper. The humour holds the whole thing together really well, although over time you'll have seen all of the gags and the mayhem may devolve into little more than a maths puzzle. But it knows exactly what it wants to be. You're not really supposed to sit on your own in the dark, and play against the AI for hours and hours. You're supposed to play with real friends - all of whom are completely drunk. Even if it is just your lunch break. It's a throwaway diversion, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. At only £3.99 on Gamersgate, I think we understand that Lunar Giant Studios don't expect this to win game of the year at E3. It's a bit of fun, but when your warriors are fighting a desperate rearguard defence against a horde of foes while your treasure-laden miners and scouts make a desperate dash for the surface, Delve Deeper can be a frantic and addictive experience. The Delve Deeper system requirements are so gentle that you could run it on a pocket calculator, which makes it ideal for lunch breaks at work (if your boss is a relaxed dude) or notebook play (if you have a clunky old laptop and a long bus journey to make).

Dwarves, treasure, monsters, mines and a demented king who loves gold and beer. That's your lot. Enjoy!

 

Different classes of dwarf can carry different amounts of stuff, you see.