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Super Dungeon Bros Review

6.5

It is a law of video-games that wherever there are dungeons, there is treasure, and wherever there is treasure, there are adventurers. Super Dungeon Bros is the latest in a long, long line of games based on this premise, and it brings with it a sense of humour and some solid level design. There’s not much on offer here that you couldn’t get elsewhere, but if you’re a fan of hacking and slashing, this game might be worth a look.

Super Dungeon Bros places players in a series of randomly generated dungeons with a single goal: fight through five levels of enemies and environmental hazards to reach the end and face a powerful boss monster. To accomplish this objective, you’ll have only the most basic of tools: light and heavy attacks, a limited-use ultimate attack, and a dodge roll to get you out of a tight spot. Fundamentally, this is a very basic hack-and-slash game, strongly reminiscent of genre classics like Gauntlet. Kill enemies, move forward, kill more enemies, dodge some traps, and fight a mini-boss. That’s the basic pattern of a game Super Dungeon Bros.

The game isn’t entirely without original ideas though. As you progress through each level, a “threat level” gauge slowly fills. As the threat level gets higher, the enemies get both stronger and more numerous. When the meter fills up entirely, it’s time to start running, as vast hordes of ravenous monsters constantly spawn all around, and fighting becomes an exercise in futility. It’s a good way to add some time pressure to the game, encouraging you to get a move on instead of painstakingly searching the dungeon for barrels to smash for a few gold pieces. The threat of a monstrous beat-down is particularly effective due to the fact that running out of lives (you start with four and can buy more with gold) results in a game over, throwing you right back to the start of the dungeon. It can be frustrating to make it down all five levels come face to face with the boss, only to fail at the last second and have to do it all again, but such frustrations are a long established part of the genre, and serve to make victory all the sweeter.

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Aside from the threat meter, Super Dungeon Bros doesn’t really offer much that you couldn’t find in any other hack-and-slash. You’ll repeat the same two attacks over and over again, and while the game does offer a variety of unlock-able weapons they don’t really feel very distinct. The melee weapons might vary in their damage or attack speed, but you’ll still use them by mashing the attack button until either the enemies are all dead or you are, while the ranged weapons are mostly too slow to be of much use. The game is also quite difficult, particularly in it’s boss fights, which last altogether too long and aren’t particularly original or inspired. Fortunately for players who are really struggling, the game gives several randomly selected difficulty modifiers (stronger enemies, weaker enemies, increased health, decreased health, etc.)  to choose from at the start of each run, which help to fine-tune the challenge to your comfort level. In classic Gauntlet fashion, you can also bring up to three friends with you into the dungeon, in both local and online co-op.

While there might not be much variety in the core game-play, the game does a decent job of presenting different enemies and obstacles to keep things fresh. There are three different dungeon types for you to delve into, into with their own menagerie of monsters. The haunted tunnels of Cryptheim are swarming with skeletons and filled with spiked floors and spinning blades. Adventurers who brave the icy, industrial, land of Chillheim will have to contend with snowball throwing trolls and burning jets of flame, while poisonous spiders and their sticky webs await explorers in the swamps of Bogheim. Each world has its own theme and look, but the random dungeon generation ensures that no two dungeons will ever be exactly alike.

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All three dungeons look rather nice. The game has a bold, colourful, and simplistic design, with each stage having its own unique atmosphere. The enemy designs aren’t particularly original, but they are attractive and easily distinguishable from one another, with a faintly comical touch that sets them apart from many similar games. The vibrant colours of the Dungeon Bro’s themselves help them stand out from the environment, and are also easy to tell apart at a glance. The only real visual problem with the game is that it can become very busy. With up to four Bros, dozens of monsters, and a variety of traps all crowding the screen, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, though with practice it does get easier to stay focused on only the immediate threats.

The soundtrack is a definite high point. It has a distinct rock theme, offering up plenty of dramatic guitar chords and drums. The intense soundtrack really compliments the action, making battles seem a lot more epic than they otherwise would and keeping the tempo of the game high. There’s a good variety of tracks, and each world has it’s own particular flavour of music, adding to the atmosphere of the levels.  The Bros also keep up a steady stream of light-hearted banter throughout the game, which you may find either amusing or annoying depending on your tolerance for wackiness.

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Overall, it’s hard to recommend Super Dungeon Bros. While it’s visual and sound design are both strong, and smashing monsters is entertaining in short bursts, there simply isn’t enough depth or variety here to keep the game fun in the long term. If you really enjoy Hack-and-Slash games or are desperate for a fix of straightforward monster bashing, you’ll probably find it a worthwhile purchase, but everyone else could do just as well by replaying Gauntlet for the thousandth time.

Super Dungeon Bros was played on Xbox One



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