- Developer: React Games
- Publisher: Wired Productions
- Genre: Action, Adventure
- Release Date: 1st November 2016
- Platforms: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac
- Game Supplied by: Premier
After playing Super Dungeon Bros at EGX Rezzed 2015 with a couple of mates I had high hopes for the full release, how can you go wrong with 4 player co-op? The idea of running around dungeons with your ‘bros’ smashing the hell out of everything in a top down hack and slash game to a rock soundtrack sounds awesome doesn’t it? Well unfortunately it’s not as fun as it sounds, the characters have literally no depth to them, the game is absent of a narrative and the gameplay gets boring quite quickly. I think I was spoilt by the awesome Castle Crashers (if you haven’t played this and like co-op games you’ve gotta check it out!).
Let’s start with the good points though shall we? First off, the game looks great for an indie title, everything is nice and colourful and it’s definitely the kind of game that you’d stop to check out if you were walking past (like I did at EGX). The gameplay is really easy to get to grips with due to the fact that you only have basic commands with whatever weapon you choose at the outset (swords, bows, hammers and staffs); jump, normal attack, heavy attack and special attack, but whilst it means the gameplay is easy to master, it also means that you’ll get bored very quickly. There are a few different weapons to unlock but you can’t switch once you’ve started a session, and there are no pickups or power ups along the way (really surprised something like this wasn’t included).
The levels are all procedurally generated which is good as it keeps things interesting, but as a result the loading times are unbelievably slow. React Games have stated that they are aware of this and they should be thought of as ‘building’ times and not loading times, but they are working on reducing the times as much as possible and hope to have an update rolled out soon. For such a simple game it’s a shame that the loading times are as long as they are (you can be waiting up to a couple of minutes before a level loads).
The sound effects are done well and I may have set my expectations too high, but the actual soundtrack was a bit of a let down. I can imagine it’s hard for small developers to obtain licences to decent songs, but a couple certainly wouldn’t have gone a miss. Dubstep, 80s and Heavy Metal soundtracks are available as a bundle to buy from the store, but surely this is the kind of stuff that should just feature as an option in game, or at most as an unlockable from playing.
The whole point of the game is to get as far through the dungeon as possible with the lives you’re given, once all the lives are used up you’re dead and you’ll have to start again from the beginning. As a separate game mode to the campaign this would have been good, but this is the campaign! There’s no story, no set levels, no character progression… you just smash your way through as much as possible to get a spot on the leaderboard. I really think this should have been a separate co-op game mode, and there should have been a proper story campaign which could be played either in single player or co-op. You do earn shards/gems as you battle your way through which can be spent on unlockables (weapons, helmets etc…) but I didn’t see anything in the store that made me want to play the game over and over just to unlock it.
That takes us onto the bros and broettes all of which have character pages on the game’s website, the problem is some of the descriptions are only 2 lines long? Sure the characters don’t need much behind them for us to enjoy the game, but with such a big focus on ‘bro’ this and ‘bro’ that, surely the characters could have developed over a story campaign? I know it would be cliché, but one of the bros could go rogue, or just do something that got the others into trouble… there’s tons of possibilities but it just doesn’t even get looked at. Each character has their own special attack but none are particularly noteworthy, and from what I could see any character could use any weapon so it wasn’t very easy to have a favourite. This just makes me miss the old Turtles (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) arcade games, where you’d quite quickly pick a favourite character and love using them and their weapons.
Lastly, for what looks like it would be quite a funny game, I was hugely disappointed with the humour. I didn’t laugh at all during my play through, and whilst I know I’ve got a bit of a twisted sense of humour I know that more could have been done to make the game more entertaining, it would only take a few cut-scenes between levels where the bros play some pranks on each other or on the broettes.
I’ve gotta say I’m quite disappointed, it’s fun for a quick blast if you’ve got a few mates round but there’s no way I’d recommend it over a game like Castle Crashers which has so much more going for it. Super Dungeon Bros feels like a game that’s still in alpha testing.