Dome Keeper is a mining roguelike by Bippinbits in which you mine your way to a relic while returning to defend your dome from alien attackers.
When you start a run, you begin to mine below your dome and search for resources that allow you to upgrade your mining speed, movement speed, and dome defenses, among other things. Soon enough, a wave of alien attackers will appear, upon which you return to your dome and manually aim and shoot the laser beam at the enemies. Once you defeat the wave, a jingle sounds, and you head back out to mine.
The mining itself is mostly a pathing game, where you try to use efficient mining routes to find pockets of resources or gadgets hidden in the rock. It’s not particularly deep, but it’s engaging when given the time pressure and upgrade trees, and gadgets that do things like automatically return resources to the base, dig for you, or teleport you home spice things up a little.
Similarly, combat is a basic aiming minigame with target prioritization. While you can get the occasional active ability, for the most part you turn your cannon or sword back and forth and shoot it at the aliens, taking out whoever is closest to your weapon. It’s not awful, but I wouldn’t play this on its own.
Most of the challenge and interest is in the balance between maximizing your mining time and getting back in time to defend your dome. While you’re away, enemies can still attack, and regaining health for your dome is costly. If you let your dome’s health get low enough, you lose the run, but you also need to get resources quickly so you can upgrade to keep up with the escalating power of the aliens.
If you survive long enough to dig to the bottom, you’ll find a special relic you can drag back to your ship, and you’ll complete the run.
While there is some gameplay variation in what resources you find quickly and what gadgets or plants you find, for the most part each run plays out the same. The same things are always best researched in the same order. There are only three resources, one of which is always limited in number so you’ll never get a lucky run and have a lot. And the enemies are always the same.
There is some variety on offer once you complete a few runs, however. With each run you win, you unlock one new option to start the game with, be it the second available weapon, one of the two other utility items for your dome, a new difficulty level, or longer runs with more mining to do.
However, after a couple of hours with the game, I felt done with it, only sticking around to check out some of the options for this review. Dome Keeper’s gameplay has polish, but it just didn’t grab me, feeling a bit too much like a chore to do over and over. It executes a simple, tense concept well but fails to add any real interest beyond the first few hours.
If you’re looking for a short, well-made mining roguelike with boring combat balanced out by good time management elements, you’ll probably have a lot of fun with this. However, if you’re looking for a roguelike you can play for a dozen hours or more, you’ll get bored with the lack of variety before then.
Dome Keeper releases September 27 on PC for $17.99.
Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Dome Keeper.