I love a good mash-up of genres, and when Dwarrows clicks, it’s a lot of fun. Dwarrows is a casual adventure game that’s half puzzle platformer, half town building. Admittedly, the town building aspect isn’t that great, but I like how gathering resources for said town plays into the greater adventure. Like, you’ll gain access to a new area that’s not only filled with more puzzles to solve but sturdier trees and rocks that produce more resources per hit. Plus, almost all of the treasure you find exists solely to help build up the town back home, be it spirits that can be turned in for more land rights or artifacts that lead to new blueprints. There’s just so much to uncover in what first appears to be a somewhat small game world.
Unfortunately, Dwarrows has serious pacing issues that are mostly the result of super vague instructions. On one hand, I do appreciate that you have to just… wander around and stumble across things on your own. However, that means it’s possible to miss very important elements that will bring all progress to a screeching halt. The most egregious example of this is when you reach a door that you can’t open until you pay a toll that’s more than the amount of money you can carry. The only way to increase your wallet size is to build a bank in your town, but getting the blueprint for a bank requires jumping through so many other hoops that are never explained in-game.
It feels like the developers had a specific series of events they expected players to follow but gave players too much freedom to do things out of order. They also expected players to spend much more time on town management than I think a lot of us are willing to do. For me, I got very sidetracked by the collectables and exploration, because that was far more interesting and engaging. But then I would continually run up against limits and be forced to gather resources for the next hour or so. The end-game buildings are simply too expensive, and I don’t think I’ll ever fully complete this game. But I at least explored every inch of the game world and got my money’s worth in that regard.