An RPG is like a nice steak: easy to make, but hard to make just right. Done just right, a steak will be hearty yet juicy, and leave you wanting seconds, much like Final Fantasy Tactics (which is probably my favorite RPG of all time for those keeping score). If a chef makes a steak wrong, it'll still be enjoyable, just tough to get through, and hard to actually enjoy, kind of like the new downloadable tactical RPG from King Art Games and THQ Nordic: The Dwarves.
One area that "The Dwarves" isn't lacking is in the graphics department. Before players are thrust into the middle of an in-game battle, they will be treated to a gorgeous opening cutscene, beautifully animated and expertly narrated. In-game graphics are just as over the top and excellent too. Characters sport muscles, physiques, proportions, and features with Street Fighter IV and V like proportions, right down to the gigantic hands. Stages are just as gorgeous too, each of them looking like something from a Dreamworks or Pixar movie, but on steroids. Even the menus and maps look like they've been given the same kind of care that AAA game would receive. Recent games and even upcoming releases will have a hard time matching this kind quality visuals gamers will experience playing "The Dwarves".
Another great thing about "The Dwarves" is the seemingly overwhelming odds player will face against foes. Battles are nothing short of epic from the 10 to 1 odds to the nigh-never-ending boss fights, however, the game is fair enough that smart players will have just enough to squeak by and still be ready for the next battle. If all of this sounds like too much handle, don't worry! The Dwarves is 10 to 12 hours, maybe 15 max of playtime! It's an epic adventure that fits into an itty bitty downloadable space.
So it seems like The Dwarves isn't that bad of a game or at least it's a gorgeous enough game that everything else shouldn't matter so much, right? Well, there are a few glaring problems. First is the game's ever-frustrating camera, which is most of the time, static. The camera tends to focus on one character at a time, usually the last targeted character, leaving players blind to other enemies closing in, potential hazards or even other objectives that need completing.
The controls proved to be the most frustrating thing about The Dwarves, however. While the aforementioned odds are an incredible experience and make for a great visual, there's a lot that can happen to undermine the epic moments. Characters don't attack after repeated inputs, other characters sit there and soak up damage, characters attempt to attack enemies and go careening off a cliff (in the first level!). I mean, how can I fully enjoy a game that I can't play without stopping and consulting Google every 5 seconds? A game this complicated should've come with just a little more handholding. I think of it like this: if a game as basic and fundamental as Street Fighter V can have an excruciatingly thorough and consequence free tutorial before even starting the game properly, why not something way more intricate like The Dwarves?
I usually complain about intelligence insulting tutorials, but this is a game that really could've used one. In fact, the gameplay and the conveyance could've used a little more of the same kind of love that went into the graphics and visuals. You know the same kind of love and attention that has to go into making a good steak. So out of TOV 5 stars, I'm giving "The Dwarves" a 2.