The Dweller Review

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The Dweller

A REVIEW BY JIMDEADLOCK

This is a platform puzzler with pixel graphics. You play as the monster in his underground lair which has been invaded by human archaeologists and your task is to eat them, crush them or scare them off the edge of a precipice. The humans occupy the tunnels but you can only move through the solid areas and possess the (movable) pink boulders.

Everything is controlled entirely with mouse movement and left-click.

Sound & Vision

The level overview and story text look appalling, with horrific antialiasing, over-compressed images and haphazard layout. I know 12 year olds who can do better. The level design is passable but I get the distinct impression that the pixel graphics, rather than a deliberate choice, were all that the dev was capable of. There are very few graphical elements throughout the game.

Music is a nondescript spooky sound that got annoying within 5 minutes and I switched it off.

Choice of screen resolutions: you can either have fullscreen or a tiny window. Sounds are on or off, no volume control.

The whole feel of the thing is crude and rudimentary.

Storyline

As you complete levels, story pages are also unlocked. These are journal entries of the archaeologists and special agents who swoop in later on. They follow the discovery of the ‘Eldritch’ and the grisly aftermath of its shenanigans. It’s not exactly Edgar Allan Poe. I question whether professional scientists would use terms like “OMG” and “badass”.

The Dweller

The sharp-toothed monster eats archaeologists for breakfast

Gameplay

Fortunately, this is where the game redeems itself. The puzzle designs are well thought out and engaging, although there’s not much variety in the mechanics. There are a total of 59 levels (why not 60 I wonder?) For the first 42 you have long boulders (horizontal and vertical) and small round ones, then teleporters for 10 levels and finally the ability to move anywhere while agents try to shoot you.

The overall difficulty ranges from easy to medium. Level 42 (remember the ’80s band?) is the only one I would consider difficult. After that it takes a nosedive back down to easy with the new mechanics.

Performance

It runs smoothly (I should hope so with this level of sophistication) and no glitches were found. Windows only.

Value

There’s 4-5 hours of content and no reason to replay. If it had good quality graphics then I’d say the price was fair, but as it is I think I’d wait for a sale.

Steam

6 trading cards. 11 achievements – I had them all by the time I completed, so a very easy perfect game. It’s also hooked up to the Steam cloud.

Verdict

The puzzling is enjoyable and original, but if you like your games to look and sound good then steer well clear.

A Review by Tim Pham

 

The Dweller is a short, twist of a puzzle game where the player controls a spirit, specifically an Eldritch, to deal with venturing spelunkers as opposed to the alternate paradigm. The ancient earth-bound spirit guards a primeval underground city, and all trespassing intruders have forfeited their lives upon entering.

Gameplay

 

The Dweller

The spirit is physically controlled by first choosing a spawn point in the ground, then by dragging the mouse – it forces the dweller to follow. The creature can also enter and exit boulders or rock pillars to possess them to move off ledges and crush intrepid excavators. Possessing boulders, choosing a spawn point, or creating some sort of unnatural event near trespassers instill fear sufficient to force them to run off of a cliff and perish.

The game is not too difficult to perfect with regards to achievements; most will be naturally attained from progressing through the levels. The most time consuming achievement to get would be the “beat every level” one, as there is 59 levels. Archaeologist notes are also unlocked after completing certain levels, providing insight into the lives and mental faculty of the archaeologists.

Puzzle Mechanics
The puzzle aspect lies in the inability of the spirit to cross gaps or wooden structures. The player must first move a boulder or rock pillar to bridge the gap or cross a wooden bridge. The boulder only has to be in proximity (one boulder width) with two opposing walls/floors to make a channel for the spirit to travel through. It is also possible to use a boulder In order to move another boulder.

Teleporters allow the spirit to vanish and choose another teleporter to spawn at. There are also teleporter stations that allow the player to create and place two teleporters in the ground of any two locations; the spirit will must first activate the station, and it will spawn beneath the station after placing the teleporters. A “power-up” station allows the spirit to freely fly throughout the entire level unrestricted.

Agents, special spelunkers, can shoot a projectile beam that will capture the spirit – the player must go behind their line of sight. The agents do not move; however, they can turn around and investigate a noise. Going from above or below generally do not work.

If the player is truly stumped on a level, it is possible to skip it. If the player desires, the skip feature can be used all the way to the end (to encounter a neat “boss fight”). It is also not required to beat every single level. Each stage is individually unlocked upon completion of the previous stage, however, some provide branching paths to the next area.

Puzzle Mechanics

Conclusion

Current State of the Game

The Dweller was just recently released last month, so the player base is still understandably small. Even so, the developer has shown active interest in player support, as seen in the Discussions board. Every question has a direct response, and the developer also seems to be willing to give hints to anyone that need it.

Advised Suggestions

There are a couple suggestions that may improve gameplay; these are listed below.

  • Allow the spirit to gain abilities: possess archaeologists, shoot projectiles, etc.
  • Introduce destructible objects as a puzzle mechanic.
  • Instead of the power-up station, give the spirit the ability to turn off light, allowing it to freely move across areas that are not lit – create spatial puzzles.

Verdict

The Dweller is a rather cute and fun puzzle game, despite the oh-so-scary Eldritch monster lurking around. The game’s originality and gameplay mechanics earn it a recommendation for any casual puzzle solver. Although it is rather short, the joy attained from killing that last, isolated spelunker provides a truly unique experience. Happy hunting!

 


Key generously provided by PC Games N News

Good

  • Interesting, casual puzzles
  • Unusual mechanics - you are the monster

Bad

  • Poor graphics
  • Erratic difficulty
6.2

Fair