Super Dungeon Bros. should be my kind of game; a colourful, metal-themed Dungeon Crawler with bags of personality. However, control issues, a lack of checkpoints, and severe difficulty spikes mare what could have otherwise been an excellent adventure.
After a brief opening video that introduces players to the Bros, four colourful knights named after famous rock stars (Freddie, Lars, Axl and Ozzie) with the same ‘Radical’ attitude as your average 90’s Saturday morning cartoon. players are dropped into the crypts of Rockheim on a quest to find mythical weapons (because everyone loves a shiny new clobbering stick).
What follows is a procedurally generated Dungeon Crawler in the Gauntlet mold where up to four players wallop hordes of the undead, gathering up the spoils, and spending them on new weapons and attire. While, Though It’s possible to play the game by yourself, I wouldn’t recommend it. The difficulty ramps up quickly and with no one to get your back, it doesn’t take long before you are overwhelmed. Co-op play is a must I’m afraid, but if you were hoping to make some new friends online, I’m afraid to say that only a few weeks, it’s hard to find companions online. As such the best way to play Super Dungeon Bros is to invite your actual bros (or broettes) round for a spot of local dungeon diving.
Initially the only weapons available to the Bros are a bastard sword or a crossbow. Take the sword, the cross bow is awful, it’s meant as a long-range support weapon, but the way enemies swarm means you can never get far enough to use it before you get attacked. The sword is a lot more reliable, but you only have two attacks; a light attack which swiftly thrusts forward, and a heavy attack that is slower but slightly more powerful, which swings the sword in a circle. You also can’t move while attacking, which makes combat feel unrefined and clunky. You simply find a spot, start swinging, and hope for the best. As you earn more gems eventually new can unlock weapons like axes and wands, the problem is that by the time you get to the better weapons you’ve had enough.
The Jokes miss as much as they hit and the one liners are tittersome to begin with but get old fast. Hearing Lars shout “schwing” the first time is a fun Wayne’s World reference, after the hundredth time, it just becomes annoying. If you want to annoy other players, you can press directions of the d-pad for your Bro to yell a random ‘funny’ phrase.
The humour may be a little stale, but the trap system works well. Rather than just being an embuggerance to adventurers, Rockheim’s myriad of deadly mechanisms can be turned against the unrelenting horde. Dive on the button at the right moment and a giant spinning blade can cause chaos among the rank and file without you ever having to unsheathe your sword.
No two playthroughs are quite the same thanks to levels being procedurally generated, this not only effects the layout but the levels of loot each contains. On one run you’ll leave with a fortune and others a pittance, with how well you do entirely down to luck (or algorithms). The problem is, once you’ve seen all the constituent parts, levels begin to feel samey.
The threat meter is an interesting mechanic. Basically its a meter which slowly fills as you walk through the dungeon, spawning increasingly deadly waves of enemies the more it fills. Once it gets near the top, you’d better scarper because you won’t have much room to move, or much chance of survival. Unfortunately, this tends to happen near the end of the stage. In theory, it’s a means of creating some tense moments, keeping players moving and keeping the action consistently challenging. However, in practice it just makes the end of each level an overly difficult mess, with massive waves of monsters wearing you down just enough to make the inevitable boss fight much harder than it should be. Moreover, once you’ve run out of lives you must start all the way from the beginning. Only keeping your accumulated loot between runs. This would be great if there were some way to skip early levels in later runs, or it felt like you were becoming stronger, but the amount of time it takes to access anything that will help you push further, quicker. Chances are you’re already tired of Super Dungeon Bros repetitive nature.
Super Dungeon Bros has some neat ideas, but none of them in any meaningful way. Killing enemies with traps is always a fun gameplay mechanic, but the threat meter ultimately creates unwanted, late level difficulty spikes and punishes players for exploring and playing alone. It also doesn’t take the Rock theme far enough. Extending only to the opening cinematic and name of the main characters. If you have an Xbox One chances are you already got it as part of your LIVE sub, and on those terms its certainly worth wasting an afternoon on.
On PS4 and PC, If you’re a fan of old movie references and have the necessary buddies to play it with, wait for a sale (Or the inevitable inclusion in PS+). However, with the Likes of Diablo III, the recent Gauntlet reboot and The Binding of Issac now including Multiplayer, it’s hard to recommend when there are better alternatives available.