by Ingvi Snædal
reviewed on PC
Makes You Yearn for Something Else
Some games are simply a joy to play. Looking back to my childhood, most of those games were ones where my friends and I would be sitting next to one another on a sofa shouting either commands or curses at one another, depending on whether the game we were playing was competitive or cooperative. Cooperative couch multiplayer games are too few and far between in the modern age of multiplayer shooters and single-player epics, so when I first launched Super Dungeon Bros I was excited to become a boy again. After a few levels with two friends, however, we were all itching to play Worms W.M.D. again.
Super Dungeon Bros is light on story and heavy on action. Each of the four rock and roll knights has a distinct personality which shows not only in the game’s cinematics, but in their in-game utterances as well. When you first launch the game, you’ll be able to choose between two weapons, a sword and a crossbow, enabling you to build your team of ranged or melee fighters as you choose. While the crossbow does more damage, its user should stay far away from the action as defence is lowered, and the sword wielder should conversely do everything he or she can to keep the enemy focused on them. As you progress in the game, you’ll unlock more weapons in the melee and ranged categories, but this progression is far too slow to make it worth your while to keep playing to collect the shards used to buy them.
Not So Super Dungeons
The game is unquestionably pretty to look at, and the cartoony aesthetics match the quirky personality of the knights nicely. The sound design is heavy metal themed, and that’s about where the positives end. Each level is procedurally generated, so there is a lot of variety in level design. This would be awesome if it weren’t for the fact that you’ll frequently get into a situation where there is no way to get through a particular set of traps without losing health. The longer it takes you to reach the portal to the next level, the more enemies will spawn, so don’t linger or you will die. This would also be a great idea if the levels weren’t filled with dead-ends and seemingly impassable gaps. At one point, my friends and I reached a gap with green a green pool below it. My first thought was: “Hey, I’ll pick you up and throw you over!” The gap was too long. Then I noticed on the minimap that on either side of the pool was a narrow path, so I jumped down to see where it lead. It lead to me getting stuck and having to jump off the map to respawn. After quite a bit of thought, I figured out that I had been on the right track to begin with, but I had to jump while holding my friend in order for him to make it across. The bridge was raised, we all passed, and were swarmed by a bigger crowd of enemies than we had ever encountered due to the time spent trying to figure out how to cross the gap.
More Reaction than Action
In addition to problematic level design, the combat is far too slow and poorly balanced. The amount of damage you do is considerable, but faced with a horde of relatively weak enemies I would have given up half the damage for being twice as fast. The ranged weapons do more damage than the sword, but they fire so slowly that you’ll be swarmed before the string on your crossbow stops vibrating. Very soon, dodging, jumping and reviving your teammates become your primary actions which leads to a level of frustration I have rarely felt before. During encounters with enemies who do AOE attacks, the affected area gets highlighted way too late, so there’s no chance in hell you’ll be able to get out of the way in time.
All in all, Super Dungeon Bros is either a case of developer blindness or a product rushed through development with far too little time spent on QA and balancing. The aesthetics are polished and professional-looking, and the gameplay elements are all there, but the responsiveness of the controls, gameplay balance, difficulty and level design are so poorly done that it’ll take some serious patching to whip this title into shape.
Local co-op multiplayer, pretty aesthetics.
Unresponsive controls, poor gameplay balance and difficulty, flawed level design.