A few months ago, I posted my thoughts on the demo for a tower-defense game on Steam, called Dome Keeper. It caught my eye and almost immediately I was enthralled by its simplicity and replayability. The game is now fully out, and it’s without question one of my favorite games of 2022.
Crash-landed, now try to stay alive
The concept behind Dome Keeper is pretty straightforward: you are an astronaut/engineer who has crashed on a mysterious planet. Now that you’re here, you need to protect your Dome research station, dig for resources, and look for treasure. At the same time, there are enemies lurking outside wanting to destroy your dome. So, it’s a back-and-forth of mining and fighting.
Again, a pretty straightforward plot but there is just so much more to discover. There are two game modes, the first is Relic Hunt, which is available from the start. The other is Prestige which is unlocked playing the first mode.
In Relic Hunt, in addition to protecting your dome and digging underground, you’re looking for a specific relic item. Depending on the map size, it can take a few minutes to over an hour to complete a run. There is a lot to dig and discover. This is a great primer for the more challenging and rewarding Prestige run.
With Prestige, you’re still doing all the mining as in Relic Hunt, but you’re earning a score for the longer you stay alive. It’s not just about staying alive. You’re also earning points for sending back resources you’ve collected. It’s a bit of risk vs reward. You clearly need the resources to improve your defenses and strengthen your character. But, you also want to earn a better score and get the important resources back to your home planet.
So much replayability
Why I’m enjoying Dome Keeper so much is the risk vs reward. Even in Relic Hunt, you still need to strategize your approach. You need to smartly use the resources you have to improve your character’s survival chances. Not only does it require you to dig deeper, the waves of enemies only get harder the more you’re on the planet.
For most players, I strongly recommend sticking with the Relic Hunt mode as much as possible and unlocking all other content before you decide to unlock and play the Prestige mode. I felt that Relic Hunt better prepared me for Prestige because I had a greater understanding of the upgrades I should focus on.
The huge replay factor doesn’t only stem from the different underground layouts, but the customization options available to you. With Relic Hunt, the more you play, you can also unlock modifiers that change the experience slightly. These include longer breaks between waves but with stronger enemies or faster enemies that are easier to kill.
More Content Please
Currently, there are two dome types available. The game starts you with the standard Laser Dome, but you can later unlock the Sword Dome. Instead of a laser beam to protect your dome, you can strike and stab a monster with a sword.
There are three different gadgets that you can equip at the start. The first is the shield that improves your defenses. You can later unlock the repellent which allows you to delay the next wave of monsters. Then there is the Orchard, where you can convert other resources into water.
It doesn’t end there, but I do wish there were a few more. Only two domes, three gadgets, and currently only one character to choose from is a bit limiting. After eight hours of game time thus far, I still haven’t unlocked everything, but I’m getting close. There appears that some content is coming (one additional character is already shown in-game as “coming soon”), I’m hopeful more domes and gadgets are on the way.
Wish I could see my stats
The only other gripe I have with the game is the lack of statistical tracking. When you unlock Prestige Mode, you can see how you fared in comparison to other players and what you did in that run, but that’s about it. I’d love to see my average Relic run or my accumulative stats. How many resources have I collected? There are so many bits of information that I’d love to see and share, but it’s not possible at the moment.
Yes, this is a minor issue. Thankfully, it’s one that could be added later down the road if the developers have the time and others want it.
Don’t skip this, please!
I can’t stress just how much fun I am having with Dome Keeper. Between this and Vampire Survivors, the Steam Deck is being spoiled with great games that can easily absorb hours of your time. I am certain I’ll be coming back for more.
Please note: I did receive a digital code for the purpose of this review.