Super Dungeon Bros is free on Games for Gold this month for Xbox One users. In light of this it seemed like a great idea to give it a go and see how it stacked up.
It’s a hack and slash rogue-like dungeon delver, where you can team up with 3 other players to explore the dungeons of Cryptheim in order to recover the lost tracks of Rock. You can choose between 1 of 4 (or 8 characters if you get the free DLC) and customise your helmet to make you a little easier to find in the mayhem on screen.
Firing the game up greets you with a charming little cinematic with three of the main knights, chilling and having a good time when their goofy Red knight arrives. He places a satanic looking vinyl on the turntable and everyone covers their ears, the music is terrible, apparently. Red hits the needle and reverses the track which starts talking of epic quests and loot, instantly getting the knights attention. The message ends, a portal appears and sucks everyone in and the game begins!
You start off the dungeon in a little lobby area with 4 braziers that you can light. Two give difficulty increasing perks which reward more points when activated, the others make life easier for you, reducing the points scored. It’s a nice addition to the dungeon, allowing that extra customisation of the run. Some of the perks include enemies exploding on death or dealing extra damage to the players. One in particular sticks out however, it reduces fall damage. In a top down dungeon explorer, fall damage is not a thing I want to encounter. Strangely, you don’t. It’s a useless perk as far as I can figure, serves only to lower your score since the fall damage isn’t all that much to begin with…
As you spend more time on a level you will notice a bar in the bottom right slowly filling, and if you’ve ever played Risk of Rain you know what I’m about to say. As the bar fills to certain thresholds you get a wave of enemies spawn that progressively get stronger. These waves of enemies can become quite overwhelming even early on as most weapons have limited crowd controlling capabilities.
Weapons are the most important thing in this game, you only get to choose which weapon you’re using at the start of the run, so choose wisely. There are four types or weapon, Sword, Hammer, Staff or Crossbow. Having access to all the weapons allowed me to test out the different types, but I quickly found most of them to be relatively useless compared with the Gutrender sword. It allows you to leech health from targets using heavy attacks and stack bleed damage on light attacks. Two abilities that are incredibly useful due to the scarcity of healing items and the amount of damage you take. The life-steal effect of the heavy attack is invaluable, so definitely save up your shards to get this one as soon as possible!
There’s no block button though, forcing you to rely on dodge-rolling out of enemy attacks and traps. Although this is a common feature of games in this style, the lack of a stamina bar makes using your dodges kind of a pain. You could be in a trap heavy area or surrounded by enemies, needing to dodge out, but you recently used too many and are now slowed and unable to roll, leading to your death more often than not. It’s quite frustrating with how often it happens, and you have no indicator to show how many you have left or when it’s safe to use them again.
Combat can be pretty damn clunky unfortunately. I mean yeah you’re a knight in big heavy armour, you’re hardly gunna be nimble. But all of the attacks are reasonably slow (unless using one of the crossbow weapons) and you move pretty sluggishly. Couple that with the fact enemy attacks often stun the character or knock you back, things get pretty aggravating, fast. You’re easily overwhelmed and surrounded due to the lack of AoE and can often find yourself stun locked into a corner. The overwhelming enemy numbers are more ofte than not the worst part, they tend to block you in and trap you.
Certain enemies have the ability to summon minions to attack you while they in turn cast spells to slow you down. These summoners in my experience have way too much health to justify the rewards from killing them. They tend to slow down the pace of the level, forcing you to kill their minions, hit them a couple times and then re-kill their minions, rinse and repeat for 5 minutes and then you can carry on your merry way.
From the tone of this review you’re undoubtedly getting the impression that Super Dungeon Bros, isn’t all that great. It isn’t. But it’s not bad either, sure it has flaws but it’s somehow still fun. I guess being a Rogue-like you never expect to get all that far. That being said there is a dungeon boss on level 6 where the dungeon run ends, and you gain a track from one of the rock albums that bestow a permanent buff to your character.
My main grievance with Super Dungeon Bros is this; the online matchmaking SUCKS. You go to join other players online and the matchmaking 1. Takes ages filling all four spots, 2. Takes ages to load the lobby when it’s filled all four spots and 3. Is horribly unstable when in motion. In a game that focuses on co-operative gameplay, this is simply unforgivable. Inviting friends to join you help stabilise the connection somewhat however. Annoyingly if someone leaves the game or disconnects, EVERYONE gets thrown back to the main menu, rather than just dropping that person from the game and letting the rest of you carry on.
Predictably things get more and more chaotic when there are four of you in play, when you can GET four of you in play. The ability to pick up your fellow dungeon bros to create a totem-pole-o’-death is a hilarious feature though. “Oh? Whats that? You want to go over there and do your own thing? NAH PIGGY BACK TIME SON!” And so you pick up your bro and go off on an adventure that he (or she…) can do nothing about. Fun, infuriating but always a blood good laugh. AND when you’re done you can throw them off the stage just because you can. The respawn next to where they “fell” off, don’t worry.
All in all, Super Dungeon Bros isn’t a great game, and I wouldn’t sink countless hours into it in one sitting. It would make a pretty great party game for if you’re sat around one evening with friends though. Taking it in turns, hell maybe even making a drinking game out of it or something. But by its own merits it falls pretty short compared to other similar titles.
Pick it up for free while you can by all means, but I wouldn’t waste your money (or all that much time).