Dome Keeper review: a small, but perfectly formed tower defence game that strikes gold

As players of Image & Form’s exceptional SteamWorld Dig games will understand, there will be something innately soothing about chiselling your path by way of a hunk of stone. Both in of the western-themed platformers, you’re looking for gem-like treasures to restore towards area so you might increase and better gear to begin with the dig period anew. Now suppose area is continually under risk from waves of alien assaults and that is basically Dome Keeper in summary, a moreish, meditative mining game that views you balance searching for resources and looking for all-important relics while protecting your eponymous dome from being smashed to smithereens.

Having very first clapped eyes on Dome Keeper right back at PAX East early in the day into the 12 months, I became immediately struck by its gorgeous pixel art and impressive feeling of scale – neither that have actually dimmed on its last launch. The alien globes you go to during each run are generally stunning to behold, and I also frequently wished i really could escape the bounds of my protective small dome and get checking out. Perhaps not that we’d endure extended, brain, because the black colored, beady-eyed monsters inhabiting these lands pack a astonishing punch. Since the wellness of one’s dome depletes after duplicated bashings, its cup areas splits and cracks in which it is experienced probably the most damage, supplying an instantaneous, artistic reminder of the length of time you have got kept before it shatters. You are doing have more conventional life club to help keep track of besides, i ought to include, but it is an enjoyable artistic information nonetheless that can help to help make the perilous nature of one’s situation feel even more delicate and precarious.

Thereis also a countdown timer showing you the way very long you have got kept before next revolution strikes, even though reality it is fairly unobtrusive means it is often an easy task to forget you are planning to come under assault – that’s, before you’re assaulted with a high-pitched bleep security urging you back again to the top. Your small astronaut moves fairly fast because they fly through tunnels you have carved down, however their motions could be slowed based on just how much cargo you are hauling right back in addition. Your drill energy, motion rate and carry power could all be enhanced and upgraded throughout a run, but there is nevertheless a tight risk-reward element at play when you’re cutting it specially fine. Can you abandon your gems towards base of one’s mineshaft for back again to your base quicker? Or would you continue and hope your base does not simply take an excessive amount of a beating along the way?

Sometimes you are going to pick the latter to help you complete an all-important update towards dome’s defences, which presently also includes the laser or an extendable blade that will cut or be javelined outwards going to longer-range enemies. The blade is through far the greater amount of challenging for the two, needing a little more dexterity to achieve its pesky, ghost-like leaflets, but both dome kinds feel pleasingly distinct from a another, and also have a satisfying selection of update paths to select from that can help to help keep things fresh on perform runs.

A small astronaut flies through an underground chasm in Dome Keeper.

An astronaut drills through an underground chasm with a lift in Dome Keeper.

A dome fires a laser at shadowy aliens in Dome Keeper.

For probably the most component, however, each Dome Keeper run seems basically the exact same. You are looking for the exact same three resources, in basically the exact same, amorphous underground split into increasingly thick levels of stone strata, and fighting the exact same couple of enemies for each earth you go to. You can find unlockable devices to simply help shake up the rhythm of specific games, including lifts, teleporters, water condensers, resource converters and animals with drills for noses, in addition to ultimate modifiers that will differ monster power, revolution rate therefore the maze-like nature for the map, but the majority just offer light twists on your own fundamental goal: to dig deep sufficient to obtain the alien-destroying relic that may enable you to go on this earth without stress. There’s also a ‘prestige mode’ that is a lot more of a rating assault type-deal, but also this does not stray from the rinse-repeat digging and defending.

Personally, i am wholly content with exactly what Dome Keeper offers right here – specially taking into consideration the size of its small wife and husband dev group. While a little more variety into the forms of underground locales you go to possibly would not went amiss, i have been playing this virtually non-stop most of the other day, gobbling up its tiny, 30-minute maps in addition to luxuriating in its big, 90-minute plus people. It took me personally the very best element of six hours to unlock most of its beginning domes, modes and devices, and I also’m excited to observe the promised ‘assessor’ keeper that is supposedly ‘coming quickly’ switches things up further from standard astronaut.

An astronaut flies back to the surface as a monster batters their base in Dome Keeper.

Some will undoubtedly chafe contrary to the reality there is no more to accomplish right here, however for me personally Dome Keeper is quick becoming my brand new Dorfromantik – that is ironic considering its initial Ludum Dare model ended up being previously called Dome Romantik. Eventually, it’s really a chill, soothing success game with only the proper frisson of stress to help keep things interesting between waves, and navigating its array update choices contrary to the increasing escalation of its beautifully paced risk amounts is definitely a fantastic treat. It is the form of game I am able to see myself booting as much as relax with by the end for the time, specially when it plays therefore well in the Steam Deck, too. This really is sunk its claws into me personally throughout the last couple of weeks, and simply like its morass of creepy shadow monsters, has smashed its method directly into my heart and entirely disarmed me personally. It’s really a genuine keeper, okay.

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