“Don’t know how long we’ve been down here, don’t know the last time I saw the sun. My mining crew is trapped, were low on food and water. Deadly gas, floods, collapses threaten us. All we have left is our hope and even that has begun to dwindle…” – Bud Rook
Dwindle is a psychological survival game set in an old 1902 American mine. A collapse has just occurred, trapping you and your crew of 23 other miners underground with limited food and supplies! You play as Bud Rook, the foreman of the mine. Your task is to guide your mining crew through the dangers and horrors of being trapped in a mine, and get them to safety.
I can confidently say that I have not played any game set in an old 1902 American mine. Might I add that I am glad that I grew up in this time and age! While I’m sure you can list off your top 10 psychological survival games, Dwindle delivers in a new way that I have yet to experience. Handling others people’s lives add’s quite a bit of stress to the player. In addition, you will also have to speak with your fellow miners to get to know them, gain usable information about them, and attempt to calm them down through extensive dialogue trees that react dynamically to the world around them. Let’s just say that this was a bit trickier than I had thought! Managing the supplies, exploring the cave and learning each miner at a personal level takes a lot of management skills.
Your miners will become exhausted, injured, and stressed as you send them out to perform tasks. Unprepared miners could become lost in the darkness of the mines, and may even die while performing tasks. I found this out the hard way… I was focused on further exploring the cave that I didn’t realize that we had run out of food. I foolishly sent out a tired worker to go scavenge for food for my hungry miners… She never returned! I felt guilty that I sent her alone into the darkness to find food for the rest of the miners, why didn’t I go out there myself?! I had to pause and actually think about it, I was feeling emotional while playing a computer game… well done Rabid Troll Studios!
While dealing with my emotions and the struggle of managing not only the miners tasks but the supplies as well, I can easily say my largest challenge was not going out to explore the cave myself. I quickly learned that the miners will not perform tasks unless you tell them what to do. I foolishly decided to leave the main area and go explore the cave myself. To my surprise I came back to a bunch of unimpressed, hungry and scared miners staring at me, waiting for me to tell them what to do. While I know your role as a foreman means you need to keep people in line, I wish that there was more exploration for the player without consequences.
Gameplay and Graphics
Dwindle is a 3-D psychological survival game. It is suppose to submerse you into the role of Bud Rook, the foreman of his 23 miners. While it usually takes me awhile to fit into the role I am suppose to play, the game doesn’t give you time to start thinking, you need to act and act quickly… this is life and death and it’s not only you, there are 23 others! There was no tutorial when you started the game, you were forced to learn how to do everything on your own – this may scare away some new players but I enjoy figuring things out for myself and usually skip any tutorial given to me anyway. The menu’s were easy to navigate and designating tasks to the miners was easy as dragging the character icon onto the task you want them to do. While giving tasks, work tools were shown on the left in the red tool box and the supplies were shown underneath on the blue tarp, this is very well placed for the player to see to prioritise the tasks given to each miner.
The graphics of this game are quite good for such a small development team! The darkness of the cave is well known once you go out to explore for yourself, your head lamp is the only source of light until you light the torches throughout the mine. The shadows all around you give you the feeling of the unknown and that anything can happen at any point which keeps you on the edge of your seat while exploring. One thing I do wish that would change is the clock on the top centre of the screen. I found myself always watching the clock rather than paying attention to my surroundings, this added to my nerves I already had – I suggest adding a button (pocket watch?) to show the time rather than it always constantly being seen.
Rabid Troll Studios
A group of 14 dedicated gamers and game developers. Led by Jason Marquez and using art and animation by Dan Taylor and Lauren Benson. Brought together by their love of game development and their work in the UCCS Game Design and Development program, they have all developed multiple week long and semester long projects. They all then decided to come together and formed Rabid Troll Studios as they feet that they had the experience and knowledge necessary to develop full commercial games.
I personally enjoy the fact that they are bringing fans into the experience through live streaming. Not only do you get to physically see work being done on the game, it gives you a chance to give your thoughts on the game directly to the developer. Be sure to check out one of there live streams
While this review is only on the Alpha released only a few days ago, I can already see that this game has what it takes to become widely known around the world. While I can say that the Alpha version of the game satisfied me, they are putting in much more work to come out with a polished finished version of the game. I found this gem of a game while scrolling on KickStarter and am glad that I had taken the time to contact the developers to get the information I needed to create this article. Be sure to check out their campaign and support Rabid Troll Studios – you will not be disappointed by this game!
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