‘Dominions 3: The Awakening’ by Illwinter Game Design

Dominions 3: The Awakening
7.7 Overall Score
Gameplay: 8/10
Audio: 9/10
Graphics: 6/10

In-Depth Gameplay | Endless Fun | Amazing Soundtrack

Very Difficult | Average Artwork

In Indie Game HQ’s latest review, James takes a look at Dominions 3: The Awakening by Illwinter Game Design. The game is the third part of the Dominions trilogy which features a wide array of items and monsters compiled with complex gameplay. Dominions 3: The Awakening is currently available for $30 through GamersGate and Desura, and it is up on Steam Greenlight. All the needed links are listed below.

Game Info

GAME NAME: Dominions 3: The Awakening

DEVELOPER(S): Illwinter Game Design

PUBLISHER(S): Illwinter Game Design

PLATFORM(S): PC, Mac, Linux

GENRE(S): Strategy

RELEASE DATE(S): Sep. 29, 2006

We would like to thank Illwinter for giving us the opportunity to review Dominions 3: The Awakening.


The Old God has left the world and the pretenders are awakening and coming out from hiding. You start the game by designing one of the pretender gods that will compete for true ascension to godhood. The type of god can range from a magically powerful arch mage to an ancient kraken or a mystic monolith that people pray to.


  • Many monsters (1500+) and many many special abilities.
  • Over 60 different nations to choose from, varying from Marignon with paladins, witch hunters and inquisitors to under water nations like the Lovecraft inspired R’lyeh.
  • Three Eras to play in, Early era is most magic and the late era is more technologically advanced with good steel weapons and armors.
  • Design your pretender god and how his dominion influences provinces and his sacred units.
  • Multiplayer with simultaneous turns (up to 23 players).
  • AI opponents for single- or multiplayer game.
  • Random maps.
  • An extensive magic system with over 600 spells.
  • Scouts, Assassins, Spies, Seducers, Corruptors, Werewolves, Illusionists and more can be sneaking in your provinces.
  • Build Castles, Temples and Labs.

Dominions 3: The Awakening


Dominions 3: The Awakening is easily one of the more in-depth strategy games I have ever played. That is evident through the 300 page manual included with the game. I found myself completely at a loss when first starting out. After a bit of trial and error as well as many unneeded casualties, I began to get the hang of it.

You begin as the divine leader of one of the many nations, and you can choose from one of the three eras: the Early Era, the Middle Era, and the Late Era. The Early Era features a more primitive society with a strong focus on magic. The Middle Era features a strong blend of magic with more conventional weaponry. The Late Era focuses primarily on military and conventional weapons. Each era requires a completely different strategy catered to the benefits of each era.

When choosing your divine being (pretender), you can customize what perks you want your god to have. These give certain benefits ranging from increased random events, income, and productivity. These can be aimed towards what you prefer as you attempt to become the new ultimate being that the entire world worships. The pretender can start the game active or lay dormant for an increase in points. This decision can greatly affect the game, but it is impossible to gauge which one is the more beneficial choice as it really depends on what your opponent chooses.

Dominions 3: The Awakening

While playing the game you will find yourself scouting and patrolling often. In addition to these tasks you can raid and attack nearby provinces, hire mercenaries and assassins, recruit soldiers and heros to lead your armies. or help your infrastructure by building fortresses and temples or dealing with taxes. In regards to battles, you can set the tactics and formations prior to the onset, but once engaged in battle, it is up to your troops to win the fight. This allows you to experiment at great costs. I recommend starting out and playing for an hour or so. During this time you will likely do some good and some bad. Trial and error will help you determine what works and what doesn’t.

Even after several hours of messing around and skimming the mammoth 300 page manual, I barely scratched the surface of what the game has to offer. The mass amounts of items and monsters mixed with the endless variety of tactics and strategy creates battles that are never the same.


Dominions 3 features a wide array of sound effects which shouldn’t come as any surprise considering the shear amount of abilities and unit types available in the game. For the most part the sound effects are very well done, but there are a few that don’t measure up well against the rest. There are a few effects that sound like they are recycled from the old Spyro games.

Dominions 3: The Awakening

The sound effects are nothing compared the great background audio which thankfully plays throughout the entire game. The game features a very Scottish/Irish soundtrack which suits the gameplay very well. The audio features what I believe are fiddles and flutes along with a very nice female voice. Overall, it certainly helped set the medieval feel without becoming annoying or repetitive even the slightest.


The art of Dominions 3 was one of the main faults I found with the game. Much of it seemed like placeholder artwork. Everything was flat and seemed to be thrown together quickly. With a game of this magnitude though, that is somewhat understandable. There are an immense amount of characters, monsters, and items available throughout the game. They did a great job keeping everything noticeably different, but in doing so, they sacrificed having high quality artwork.

Down to the Nitty Gritty

Dominions 3: The Awakening is easily the most in-depth game I have ever played in regards to the shear variety it offers. This is a game you could play 100 times, and it would never result in the same outcome. Illwinter really went all out when creating this interesting strategy game.

The soundtrack of Dominions 3 is easily one of the better ones I have heard to date. The art on the other hand offers a very nice variety, but much of the art appears rushed. Dominions 3 is $30 for PC, Mac, and Linux which can be quite pricey. With everything considered I can safely say that this game is well worth it for fans of hardcore strategy games, but for those looking for a simple game to mess around with here and there, this is not an ideal game for you.

Illwinter | Desura | GamersGate | Steam Greenlight

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Author: James View all posts by
  • dan

    Hooo Boy!

    This is one complex, flexible, unpredictable, and wonderfully overwhelming title!

    If you like…

    …. Details!
    …. Creativity!
    …. Choices, choices, choices!
    …. Micro-managing!
    …. Civilization-like mechanics!
    …. And, Indie devs that make long-lasting games!

    Then you should try this one out. Not for everyone, not a mainstream game. But for those that really, really like to get “into” their games, this is a gem…

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