Review - Dominus (DOS, 1994)

Though the actual game of Dominus is pretty original, the theme is not. The player is a ruler of a kingdom, which is divided up into seventy two sectors. Your assignment in this game is to defend your kingdom from rival clans, one sector at a time. These clans are trying to suck up all the resources of the land, hence bringing your kingdom down. You must defend your territory by deploying monsters, setting traps, and casting spells.

As soon as you start the game, the rival clans start their attack on your perimeter. They will usually pillage a particular square and split before you get there. There is essentially no warning of where they are going to next, though you can sometimes send a spy to find out, then with that information you can deploy your monsters. If you hadn't guessed by now, Dominus runs in real-time. This can be quite annoying when several clans attack at once.

In any given battle, you will need to deploy some of your monsters. Then a few well placed spells like fire ball, earthquake, or net are needed. You might also find yourself setting traps by the entrances of houses. You don't just have a list of traps that you can set, you must first make them. This is quite simple and only takes a minute or two. You are given choices on what kind of release mechanism is used, and what the effect of the trap will be. Then these traps are saved for later deployment. The spells are a wee bit different. You start out with quite a few premade spells to cast. However, these spells are used up in casting, and if you run out, you'll need to go to your spell mixing option. Here you can mix up spells from your spellbook, and you can even try and invent some new ones, a little game of chance. There are quite a few other interesting little goodies in this game. For instance, you can capture enemy monsters and interrogate them, or you can mix them with some of your own monsters to create one big supermonster. One last game aspect is the fact that you, the Overlord can jump into a battle. You can ride your chariot down onto the battle-field and assist your troops. This can be quite helpful if you're a talented arcade game player. However, if your hand eye coordination is really bad, you should stray away from divine intervention, since getting your Overlord killed ends the game immediately.

Though Dominus has a few interesting twists (mixing spells, creating new monsters, and interrogating captives), the gameplay gets old fast. The fun factor is just not there, not to mention the strategy factor. If your penchant for god games drives you to play every single one that gets released, give Dominus a look. Otherwise, stick with Populous.