[REVIEW] Legend of Keepers – A Master’s job is never done(geon)

For centuries, dungeon crawlers have put us in the shoes of mystical heroes. We’re taught to raid, pillage, and search every crevasse, killing every adversary that keeps us from the treasures ahead. And you know what… we usually feel pretty good about it. Flaunting your riches after slaughtering countless creatures, every gamer is down with it. Who the flying fuck cares about the other side of the story? If the answer is “you”, Goblinz Studio’s reverse dungeon crawler Legend of Keepers might be your cup of monstrous tea.

Legend of Keepers places you on the other side of the battlegrounds, managing creatures that risk their lives to protect the spoils. You – the player – embody a Dungeon Master, hired by a shady dungeon corporation. To prove your worth, you’ll have to overcome enemy assaults. Granted a handful of minions and traps, you get to decide how you choose to defend your workspace. Which minions and traps you choose to use are up to you. Succeed, and you get paid, get more staff assigned, and get to work another day. Fail at it, and there’s hell to pay.

The setup of Legends of Keepers couldn’t be easier. Basically, you work on a weekly schedule. Sometimes you fight, sometimes you don’t. When you get to the point where fists will be thrown and spells start to fly, prepping comes first. Each raid brings forth three heroes with unique stats and abilities, plainly exposed for you to exploit. Before these heroes get to you – the Master – they’ll have to cross several chambers. A quick tutorial shows you how to utilize each type of chamber. Where one chamber is reserved for three-on-three combat, others are set up for trap placement or a magic attack from the Master himself. If a hero survives your defences, you’ll get the chance to end him yourself.

Once you start to get the hang of things and found your favorite bunch of lowlife warriors, things might become too easy for you. Legend of Keepers tries to counter that by making you bench your front-runners in order for them to stay loyal to you. No matter how buff your champs are, there will always be a hero that’ll best them eventually. After death, your minions resurrect, but dying too often kinda ruins their work ethics. So before they start giving you the finger, you’d be wise to send them off to a nice relaxing retreat for a few weeks.

On paper, this all should spice things up enough to keep it engaging. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. New recruits can be acquired way too fast to really get you in a tight spot. In between fights, various extracurricular activities give you these opportunities. Raiding villages, visiting merchants… you’ll have some fresh meat in no-time. Sure, they might be worth less than a porterhouse steak in an all-vegan community, but training and buffing them will fix that in a jiffy. At some point, minions feel so undervalued that I didn’t even mind selling them or offering them to a malignant visitor. Anything for some gold, blood, or tears, which are all in-game currency.

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The fact that Legend of Keepers also gives you the choice of difficulty when the time to battle arises, might ruin things a bit. Insecure players might always opt for the easiest fight, which usually won’t grant you the best gear, recruits, or items when you prevail. Then again, you’ll get along just fine if you decide to do so. Future battles won’t really get taxing to the point where you regret not previously fighting for a bigger pay-off. Plus, if you do decide to take on a Champion, chances are that you’ll still be victorious in the end. You might have caught a few scratches yourself and you’ll take that damage with you in the next fight, but for things to get really demanding, you’ll need a fight a long-term fight.

Because of that, Legend of Keepers can become quite of a drag. After squashing your beef and managing your business weeks on end, things become rather repetitive, and not in a good way like in Returnal. Every playthrough just starts to feel the same. The only thing that’ll break the rut from time to time is the stupendous dark humor that the French developer Goblinz Studio has put into the game. Sending my minions off to a therapist because killing humans weekly can make them feel uncomfortable, kinda made me chuckle. Legend of Keepers has got plenty of those unexpected funny bits, and they just might be the reason why I stuck around.

Then again, Legend of Keepers is far from being a bad game in the first place. Even though it looks like a game from the ’90s, consisting of sprites, it has a very polished feel. Environments look pretty neat, even though they’re not as customizable as you might think. Your motley crew of monsters also look the part, as do the heroes. And the effects… they all look mighty fine to me. Apart from the graphical part, Legend of Keepers also runs like a charm. So really, the game actually deserves a lot of credit, as does Goblinz Studio. It’s just that it doesn’t really offer the versatility that I’d like it to do. I’m definitely going to keep playing Legend of Keepers, if only for – let’s say – 30 minutes per session. Maybe an hour, then Imma deffo head’n’ out.

Not a Legend, still a Keeper
The Heroic
Graphically and performance-wise A-Okay
Dark humor provides the occasional chuckle
The extracurricular activities add some zest to the formula
Defending your dungeon can be fun for a while
The Monstrous
Things become repetitive quite fast
The choice of difficulty per siege can sabotage your overall experience