Are you not entertained? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 05, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 05, 2018

GAME REVIEW

Are you not entertained?

Domina is a gladiatorial management sim where you train and house a bunch of gladiators to fight for you in The Pits or the Colosseum. That's pretty much it. Oh and your gladiators have permadeath of course, so don't get attached to the 650HP Thraex that's going to die to a 400HP Murillo.

The atmosphere of the game is quite different from what you'd expect. While your average Joe might've gone for the Roman chic, the developer DolphinBarn went for a gory, pixel art design that drives home the game's disposable roguelite mechanics and the sheer amount of blood. The soundtrack, though, is the best part about the game. When your gladiator enters the arena and postures, the music just pumps you up like you're absolutely sure your tiny pixel fighter will bring you glory.  Big ups to Bignic for one of the best soundtracks I have ever heard in a game. Even if you don't play the game, check out the tracks “Boom (Jason) (Or Walking out of hell one step at a time)”, and “Spartacus”.

The gameplay is more or less Football Manager for gladiators. You train their stats, pick one of the three classes and throw them into the arena. Once you're in, I'd advise you to leave the fighting to the AI. The controls are absolutely horse tosh and you'll be dead before you know it. If it's a 3v3 or a mob fight, pick the weakest gladiator and keep him away from the fight. That way, he can gain stats but not get injured or killed. Speaking of stats, the game lets you hire different trainers and workers to improve your ludus and gladiators. It's a nice touch that gives you more control of your game. However, this is not a game for those who are looking to get into the thick of things and slice their way through to victory. At its core, Domina is a management game and your expectations should be similar, especially considering the price tag. For a $6 game, it punches way above its weight. You can get a solid 20 to 30 hours of fun.

In between fights, you'll often find yourself just sitting back and staring at the resource stats to make sure you don't run out. This is quite possibly the worst part about the game. Good management sims always ensure that you have something to do during the downtimes or at least have a speed setting. Domina just makes you sit and stare, maybe yawn. These moments aren't that frequent to jar your experience but it is still kinda annoying in 2018.

To sum it up, Domina is a great game to have on your laptop if you're the sort to travel a lot and need something to waste some time. Honestly, this should have been a mobile game. There's still time to port it, DolphinBarn!

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