Legend of Keepers Gamescom Preview
Legend of Keepers is a mix between Darkest Dungeons and Dungeon Keeper. You are playing a Dungeon Master and you are hired by a company, managing the dungeons in the country, to protect these dungeons. For that you have to make sure that no heroes will get very far in the dungeon to reach all the treasures.
Goblinz Studio, the creator of Legend of Keepers, decided to develop this game leaning on what they realized with Dungeon Rushers. Originally they wanted to make a Dungeon Rushers 2 or a prequel, but at some point in the discussion the developers figured it would be fun if it would be possible to play as a bad guy.
The mechanics of the game are split in two parts. First is the dungeon part, where the combat takes place and the second part is an agenda where you have to select tasks you need to accomplish each week. This agenda will allow you to select tasks like, upgrading your monsters, buying new monsters, upgrading traps, sending your monsters out for some plundering, dealing with the heroes or a random event. One of those random events is that you have to deal with an employee strike, where the monsters don't want to work anymore and you have to decide whether you will ignore them or will increase their wages. If you ignore them they will leave and you will have to wait for several weeks before a batch of monsters is available again. Another example that was given was that you are offered meat for a lower price. Accepting that one will save some money, but there is a risk that the meat is not fresh and that your monsters will be suffering from food poisoning after a while, which makes them unable to fight. You can refuse the offer, but if you refuse something offered by the same person too often, he or she will start to dislike you, which might have other negative effects in the game.
You will have to select one task a week. Some weeks have more than one task listed, in which case you have to select the task you want. It is possible to look a few weeks ahead, so it is possible to plan which tasks you want to do to some extent.
The first task on the task list is to keep a dungeon safe from the heroes. It will take another 3-4 weeks before the next dungeon needs to be kept safe. A single run will take three in-game years and as you will have to perform one task a week, the total amount of tasks to complete is 156, that sounds a lot, but quite a few of the tasks can be dealt with rather quickly. In those three years the heroes will become stronger, so you have to make sure that your monsters will become stronger as well. The 156 tasks may sound like a lot, but quite a few of the tasks can be dealt with quite quickly.
The dungeon part is split in two phases. The first is the preparation phase, where you see the group of heroes and the dungeon layout, which is randomly generated. Each of the rooms in the dungeon is used for a specific activity; placing a trap, placing monsters or selecting a spell to be casted. Let's say that the first room is for a trap. You can select a trap from the set of traps you have and place it in the room. The second room is a spell room, you don't have to select anything now, so you can move on to the third room where you get to place your monsters by selecting them from the collection of monsters you have. The fourth room will be where the dungeon master resides and that room does not need to be prepared. The number of rooms that exist in a dungeon will vary depending on the difficulty.
The heroes are a group comprised of a set of characters of eight different classes. Three heroes will be randomly selected from these eight classes at the start of each dungeon. And each of them has a basic attack and an active skill they can use once per dungeon, so you need to optimize your selection of monsters to have the best chance of defeating them. The heroes will also gain a random passive skill later on in the game.
Once you are finished with the preparation, the combat phase starts. To stay with our example of 4 rooms, we start in the trap room, where the heroes walk into the trap and receive damage. In the second room, which is the spell room, you get to select what spell you want to use on the heroes that does damage as well. In the third room your monsters are waiting and the actual fight begins.
Combat is turn-based and the initiative is determined by the speed of each of the characters. In combat, each of the heroes will show two bars. One is the life bar and the other is the morale bar. The monsters cannot only do damage, but also reduce the morale with certain skills. When the morale of an heroes reaches zero, he or she will flee the dungeon, leaving the other heroes behind. Reducing the moral is a tactic that works out quite well in the fights I played.
It is also possible to see what damage a certain attack or skill could have by selecting it and hovering over the heroes, without activating the skill. It will then show the effect of the skill on the life and morale bars.
Each of the heroes' skills has a damage type. A fire wizard, for example, will do fire damage, so it would be good to have selected monsters in the preparation phase that have a high resistance to fire. However it will be difficult to select 3 monsters that all have resistances to the damage that each of the heroes can use.
Some heroes or monsters are set to always attack the first available opponent, this means that it is usually best to place the strongest monster first. Others can select which opponent to attack, the area of effect skills will damage all three opponents.
The dungeon master is in the last room and when the heroes are able to reach that last room the dungeon master has to fight them. Although the dungeon master has a high health and 3 possible attacks (physical damage, area of effect and morale), it will be hard when all three heroes will reach the last room. When the dungeon master survives the fight, it will not be without any damage, so you will have to deal with the health management of the dungeon master, which is one of the possible tasks in the agenda.
When the heroes win you lose the run and you have to restart. When you succeed in protecting the dungeon, you will be rewarded with some random reward, like gold, a new monster or an artifact, which can be placed in one of the five available slots and that can also be upgraded. Each of the artefacts can have a different effect, like an increase of stats or adding a game mechanic.
There are 3 different dungeon masters in the game and each of them has a different skill set and thus also a different playing style. Next to that each of the dungeon masters starts out with a different set of monsters. After each run it is possible to use the gathered experience to level the dungeon master up, which adds gameplay mechanics, like having more monsters, next to that also the collected talent points can be used to add some bonusses to the dungeon masters' talents. The stats of the dungeon master however will not change when leveling up. So a level 1 dungeon master has about the same stats as a level 5 dungeon master, but has no extra gameplay mechanics.
It is possible to switch to another dungeon master between runs and because the stats of the dungeon masters will not change, starting a new run with a lower level dungeon master should not be that much of a problem.
The game is currently in alpha stage and the developers have been working on it for about 10 months. On their Discord server, a playable demo is available, where you can play 52 weeks of the agenda, which provides a good way to determine if it is a game for you.
An early access release is planned for the beginning of 2020. Once released, the game can also be modded. The plan is to have this already available during early access.
There are some youtube videos where a playing session based on the demo is provided, which will give even more information, like this one.