My mum used to say, 'never judge a game against what you want it to be - judge it for what it is.' Or she would have done, if she spoke in pithy one-liners or knew anything about games.
Still, her invented words ring especially true here. Dungeon Keeper isn't Dungeon Keeper, and all the gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands in the world isn't going to change that.
What it is, is a well polished Clash of Clans clone with a cartoonishly grim aesthetic and a free-to-play system that certainly isn't the worst I've encountered.
It might not be as in-depth or tactical as the game it borrows a name and little else from, but it's still a reasonably enjoyable way to waste a couple of minutes here and there.Dungeons and dragons
The main chunk of the game is spent tidying up your dungeon. It's a dank and unpleasant place, and it's your job to make it worse. So you'll build traps and add doors, put in cannon emplacements, and cut out chunks of stone to plop down new rooms.
All of this is done by your minions - pudgy little pink imps that scurry around with pickaxes and other tools to hammer and smash things into the right place. The more of these little imps you have, the more you can get done at once.
There are other types of minions too, who play offensive and defensive roles in your subterranean lair. This cadre of trolls, wizards, skeletons, and assorted demons are essentially your army, and you summon them from the heartstone that sits in the middle of your dungeon.
You need to manage three different resources to succeed. Stones and gold are used to build and buy, while mana is drawn from a dark library and used to power your spells.
These turn invaders into chickens, walls into explosives, and perform plenty of other unpleasant actions on the unsuspecting interlopers.Wait timers
The other part of the game is spent invading and protecting. There's a campaign that sees you sending your lumbering beasts to other underground holdouts, with the promise of riches if you manage to destroy the other dungeon keeper's infrastructure.
The various monsters under your command all have rooms and defences they'll target first. You spawn in one of the entrance rooms, then rampage through the dungeon, smashing things until you've either taken apart everything there, or your invaders have fallen to the defences.
They're not what you might call the most interactive engagements, but choosing which monsters you're taking, and what order you drop them into battle, means you've got some say in the outcome of the dust-ups.
Your defensive engagements follow a similar pattern, except this time it's your own traps and tricks that are being tested. It's not just where you put your traps you need to think about, but the position of every room in your complex as well.
The game is loaded with wait timers and currencies, and while they're annoying, the slow drip of the game means that you're not too bothered about laying your iPad down for a bit while your imps build a new trap or dig out a new mine.
It's not the perfect use of the licence by any means, and plenty will find that the IAPs grate against the very fabric of their soul, but as casual free-to-play base-builders go, Dungeon Keeper isn't half bad.
No, it isn't Dungeon Keeper, and if you come to it expecting anything of the sort then you're going to leave disappointed. But if you don't mind some thinly sliced casual play, you might be pleasantly surprised.