Replay: Dune 1 (THE Adventure-Strategy Game)

Anybody remember the original Dune game? I sure do, as it was one of the first PC games that I have ever completed, after hours and hours of trial and error.

Released back in 1992 on MS-DOS (later for Amiga and Sega CD), the original Dune game was a masterpiece and the only adventure-strategy game mix that I know of. Somehow, it worked great – especially for the time.

In the game, which is heavily based on the original Dune novel by Frank Herbert, you play the role of Paul Atreides and guide him to become the legendary Muad’Dib and the ruler of Arrakis.

Dune screenshot of Paul Atreides
The main character, Paul Atreides [screenshot by Social Games Help]

The gameplay is divided between traditional adventure-style exploration, where you move from location to location and interact with characters to progress with the story, as well as basic strategy and resource-management elements that involve spice production, managing your troops and attacking (or defending against) the Harkonnen troops.

You will meet all the main characters from the original book (and a few extra), exploring the planet and building up your legacy in a relatively simple, but still extremely challenging game.

Screenshot from Dune 1 game, showing spice mining
[screenshot by Social Games Help]

When I replayed Dune recently, decades after initially completing the game, I was not only surprised by how much I still remembered from the original (and the amazing nostalgic feelings it triggered), but also how well it has aged.

For an MS-DOS game that is ancient in computer time, it looks, feels and IS really complex and amazing to play.

And very difficult.

I was silly enough to believe that, since I had completed the game over and over again, it would be a walk in the park to do it again. I tried to rush it through Dune, as it has many scripted events and a basically linear story line… but, boy, I failed!

Halfway through the game, I realized that I had too little in terms of armies recruited – the ones I had were poorly equipped and pretty soon they were captured by the Harkonnen forces. It was, just like all those decades ago, when I had to restart and take it slowly, actually thinking about what I’m doing and giving the game the respect it deserves.

Dune screenshot showing the difficulty of game
My troops, captured by the Harkonnen [screenshot by Social Games Help]

This is the thing with old games. They were REALLY difficult. They had no mercy. And, to be honest, I kind of like it that way.

Sure, it’s frustrating. The most frustrating part from the original Dune game, for me, is now the Ornithopter exploration that has to be done in order to discover new Fremen sietches. Staring at the map for minutes is not fun. Especially since you have to be pretty precise with your targeting, otherwise you can go around the entire planet and find nothing.

But despite the brutal difficulty of the game and the boring parts related to exploration, I’ve had such an amazing time replaying the original Dune game, and I wholeheartedly recommend you to give it a try.

Dune game screenshot showing flying on the map
Probably one of the most frustrating things in the game – flying the orni [screenshot by Social Games Help]

I’m not sure if new players (those who never played it before) would find it as fun, since its game mechanics are clunky – with some of the puzzles very difficult to understand – but if you did play it back in the day, it’s worth trying it again.

After all, this is a piece of history, as many say it was the game that built the foundation for the real time strategy genre (which was introduced to the world by Dune 2, which went for a completely different approach to the game – but more on that in a different article).

Dune 1 does have a real time strategy element to it: although not visible, the enemy troops might move around and attack you, and also time goes by in real time as you walk around in adventure mode. Resources are not infinite and even your people will get angry if you don’t get in touch for a long time.

All in all, some pretty innovative features for 1992!

Dune screenshot showing captured in-game prisoner
Nice features, as you could capture prisoners and convince them to share secrets. [screenshot by Social Games Help]

Dune is a classic. I loved playing it and I am happy to be able to recommend it today, when the new Dune movies are taking the world by storm, but also when we have more modern adaptations with Dune: Spice Wars (great strategy game!) or Dune Imperium (which is not really my type of game).

While the game is no longer sold, you can download it as abandonware from websites like

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.