It's really a shame. The fantasy based wargame Dominus has so many attractive features and intricately designed components that conceptually mesh aspects of strategy, action and real time decision making that it should be a tour de force in the genre. Unfortunately the whole package lacks cohesiveness and a decent interface which sadly results in frustrating gameplay. As the perception of a rose's beauty can be marred by the unsuspected thorn awaiting the admirer, so too does Dominus have hidden flaws which detract immensely from the overall relatively good first impression. Quite simply, there is too often too much to do and not nearly enough time to do it. This sounds like a small complaint but any length of serious playing time will prove the fault all too true. Combat is handled in real time mode which presents an enormous continuity problem when you're trying to use the wonderful tools of survival the game offers. For example, playing as the Overlord of your dominion, you have the opportunity and capability to design traps, create and mix spells, torture and question captives and most enjoyable of all, mutate your monster-warriors by splicing them together and creating new and terrible super-monsters. The learning curve here is tough and in order to get the most from these activities, you have to manage them while either engaged in combat or waiting for the inevitable attack from the eight vicious clans of invaders determined to overrun your dominion. You can delegate some authority and battle management power to four generals who, once assigned an area to defend, will act on several options like spying, laying traps, getting resources or battling encroaching enemies. Once those defenses are breached, however, you'll have to take a hands on approach via a Battle Mode and personally see to all the tactics used to defend your territory. There is also an option which allows you to not only chariot-hop down to the thick of battle and fight arcade-style against the invading army of nasty creatures but fortunately provides an avenue of escape when things get too hot (which they do in a hurry).
So what's really wrong with this game? The main problem is you have all these wondrous options and tools at your disposal but are saddled with an unwieldy and poorly designed point and click interface. Too many times you'll find yourself hurried by the action going on around you and mistakenly click yourself to the wrong location. The layout is not particularly user friendly and the lack of a zoom-out option in Battle Mode severely hinders your ability to see the big picture and make strategic battle plans. Since the invaders seem to attack in swarm-mode whenever you're around, this can be very disconcerting. Conceptually, Dominus couldn't be better but difficult execution conditions dampen the enjoyment factor. One saving grace is the seven options of difficulty offered but even the lower demanding levels just delay the inevitable frustration. For all it's faults, Dominus still gets high marks for intent and effort.
Graphics: Visually pleasing without the flashy aspect of other games in the genre. Limited viewpoint options in battle mode are irritating and level of detail on individual monsters can lead to confusion, especially in the heat of battle.
Sound: Nothing spectacular. Sound effects and music don't add greatly to the total package.
Enjoyment: Great at first but real time action coupled with complex demands on other aspects builds frustration quickly, especially at higher levels of difficulty. Intermittent quirky controls and non-intuitive point and click interface become irritating and cumbersome.
Replay Value: Tough to rate because the game concept itself provides ample opportunity for solid replay but begs the question of why you'd want to with the overall problems of time management.
You are an Overlord in the employ of an aged King who has long since tired of battling. Protection and control of the kingdom, its resources, treasures and its force of monster are your obligations.
Neighboring clans are invading the dominion. They are a scourge of ravenous looters, soldiers, and mages. Each group desires some resource that is abundant in the kingdom. The longer they steal from you, the stronger they become.
The clans will attack from every direction. If you do not defeat them at the outskirts of the kingdom they will move toward your castle destroying and pillaging along the way. As they ravage the land and close on the castle they gain strength from the resources they have captured. Each clan is after specific resources. Some are invaders or scouts. Others are powerful mages.
Fight back the invaders with all your resources. Order your generals and monsters into combat. Lay traps. Use Magick to destroy the clans and enhance your own forces. Gain information through interrogation and spies or fight with your own hands.
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