Dungeon Keeper is a strategy video game developed by Bullfrog Productions under Peter Molyneux and released by Electronic Arts in July 1997 for the PC in which the player attempts to build and manage a dungeon or lair while protecting it from (computer-controlled) 'hero' characters intent on stealing the user's accumulated treasures and killing various monsters. The game was met with high critical praise and positive gamer reaction. This was Molyneux's final project with Bullfrog before he left the company in August 1997 to form Lionhead Studios.
The game interface is reminiscent of normal real-time strategy (RTS) games: the player uses a mouse, represented in-game as a hand, to interact with a bar on the left-hand side of the screen, allowing him to select which rooms to build and which spells to cast. Rather uniquely, the player can use the hand to pick up creatures and objects in the dungeon and carry them around, allowing for tactics such as gathering an assault force and dropping off the creatures en masse once a foothold has been established.
The hand also allows the player to "slap" objects and thereby interact with them: creatures will hurry up when slapped, chickens in a Hatchery will "splat," and some traps will be triggered. Prisoners in the Torture Chamber can thus be treated with a hands-on approach.
The main game view is in isometric perspective, however, this view can be zoomed and rotated. The player also has the option of possessing one of his creatures, and seeing the dungeon from that creature's first-person perspective, as well as use their attacks and abilities.
The map is divided into a grid of (mostly invisible) rectangles: an arbitrary number of monsters can be on any element of the grid, but only one trap or room section. A smaller part of the map is shown as a minimap in the top left corner of the screen.
The world map demonstrates the developers' detailed work: at the beginning of the game, the player is allocated one of the 20 regions of a fictional, idyllic country. As the player progresses through these regions (each of which represents a level), the areas previously conquered will appear ransacked, twisted, and evil.
Before starting a new level, the Mentor (voiced by Richard Ridings) will tell the player about the current region and its attributes. This has no significance on the level itself, but provides comedic effect as the Mentor is unable to comprehend the good deeds of the population. For example: "This region of dreaming underlings is ruled by the beautiful Lady Catherine. She's kind, and fair, and doesn't imprison or torture her subjects...for some reason." After completing a level, the Mentor will talk about the "improvement" of the destroyed region. "The streets run with the blood of the slain. Screams of pain and howls of anguish rip the night air like a vengeful siren's song. This really is somewhere you can take the kids for the weekend."
Dungeon Keeper Gold Edition was released December 31, 1998, in North America. It was not a sequel but a repackaging. It contained the original game, Deeper Dungeons, the 3-D patches, a game editor, and a novella. The book recounted the story of a hero killed while exploring the dungeons. Most of the additions were put on Bullfrog's website. The Gold Edition was discontinued but later repackaged and redistributed by EA Digital Illusions CE.