I've always had a soft spot for resource management games. They tend to have a pretty good sense of progression to them, so rewards continually pour in based on good planning and a firm understanding of how to get from point A to point B.
As might be expected from such an introduction, Queen Under The Mountain is a resource management game which features a bunch of Dwarves starting out with little more than a couple of nearby trees, a mineshaft and some gold. From these humble beginnings they then have to get their backsides in gear and create their empire out of nothing.
The basic gameplay revolves around the player creating blueprints of items they want to make – if enough resources are available, the blueprint gets created and is available for use. There's no distinction between workers, rooms and supplies, so to create someone to hack passageways through the dirt and unearth valuable stones there will need to be both a pickaxe and a spare dwarf available to fulfill the conditions of the Miner blueprint.
Workers need a place to sleep or they'll start snoozing on the cold dark floor, so beds have to be crafted to rest their weary heads. They need to be fed, so a kitchen and dining area is important, as is a chef to cook their food and a butler to take it to them on a silver platter. Smelting ores requires a forge, and…
… actually, this is all a lie at present. In the current build it seems that none of these seemingly important facilities matter in the least. I couldn't see much difference between my workers sleeping on a rock or in a cot, and if they're hungry they just sit around moping for a minute. They don't start trying to eat grass or anything before shuffling off this mortal coil, so they could probably get by fine without any luxuries like food or water.
There are problems with basic progression too. After creating a shepherd so that I could place down a paddock, the little bugger obstinately refused to build me one. I made another shepherd, and he flat out refused too, preferring to take up bunk space and eat food he hadn't earned, the freeloading little sod. Without this paddock I couldn't buy sheep, which meant they couldn't be fleeced, which meant that plenty of items requiring wool couldn't be created – forever tantalizingly out of reach.
To top it all off, eventually all my minions simply stumbled to a halt. There was work to do, but they just couldn't be bothered getting off their backsides – and it wasn't an issue where I'd run out of resources since miners should still happily pickaxe the hell out of tunnels without relying on outside items to fuel their work.
The game was, as they say, over. And that's pretty much all that the game seems to offer right now.
It's entirely possible that in the future Queen Under the Mountain could become a fun resource management game with plenty to do in it, but right now it's basically just the mere germination of an idea. It's buggy, unfocused, unclear, chock full of spelling errors and I'm not entirely sure why it was sent out for preview purposes when it's clearly this early in development.
Six months of development time down the line though and I could well be singing a different tune. To be clear, I'm not down on it because it's necessarily on the path to being a bad game – it's simply way too early to tell.