Super Dungeon Bros Review
Diablo for kids is probably the best way to summarize Super Dungeon Bros, a new procedurally-generated dungeon crawler that has its heart in the right place, but can’t help but feel half-baked in everything it does. It doesn’t take itself as seriously as Blizzard’s famed series does which, as it happens, is the highest compliment I can give Super Dungeon Bros. For all of its insufferable bro-infused characters and annoying quips, the rock-n-roll theme is the closest it comes to having a personality. It’s unfortunate, however, that the rock aesthetics doesn’t really press on past the intro movie leaving the overall package feeling painfully generic.
Super Dungeon Bros doesn’t stray too far from the existing formula of winding environments, baddies to hack-and-slash, puzzles to solve, and picking up lots and lots of gold. As far as dungeon crawlers are concerned, it checks off all the boxes. While it does adhere to genre staples, there are a few noteworthy additions that shake things up considerably — but not necessarily for the better. A Threat Level meter is always present onscreen, which increases the longer it takes to reach the end of one depth of a dungeon. If the threat level ever reaches its max (and trust me, it will), prepare to face an onslaught of enemies that will undoubtedly spell doom for you extremely quickly. I can’t say that I completely disliked the mechanic because it did offer a level of urgency to finish a level while also fulfilling my need to explore and find as much gold as possible. This risk/reward dynamic balances out what is otherwise a lonely and ho-hum single player experience.
“Whether you’re playing with one other person or a total of four, everyone shares the same set of lives.”
However even in co-op, which is the preferred way to play, Super Dungeon Bros fails to measure up due to imbalance. Combat feels too loose; basic attacks and dodging feel strangely delayed and movement is far too floaty for my liking. Boring level design, cheap enemy swarming, and a slow progression system feel like deliberate attempts to whisk away any amount of fun players may be having. Whether you’re playing with one other person or a total of four, everyone shares the same set of lives. There are still individual health bars, but once its depleted, everyone is at risk of losing a life. There is a small window of time to revive someone but it takes far too long to do so and is sometimes not worth it when enemies are literally caving in from all sides, which tends to grow depending on how many players are in your party.
The huge mobs also have an impact on game performance, which pitifully chugs under the weight of too many things happening all at once. I’m also not a fan of players having to stay on the same screen, especially since the camera doesn’t want to pan out too far even if one person wants to zoom ahead. When you factor in the already hit-or-miss controls and the unpredictable nature of the threat level meter, playing with friends is sometimes more maddening than it should be.
While I will suggest that inviting friends over to play is the most ideal, the convenience of jumping into an online game or inviting a player over PSN or Xbox Live is compelling. And while Super Dungeon Bros obviously supports online capabilities, it is in pretty bad shape right now. Finding active players isn’t easy, and in the off chance that it did connect, gameplay suffered to the point of being practically unplayable. Button presses wouldn’t register, gold would randomly disappear, and movement lag would occur too frequently. It isn’t a good sign when a multiplayer-centric game lacks the online infrastructure to play with other people, and it’s unfortunate that Super Dungeon Bros is a victim of it. Despite my complaints over its co-op experience, there are moments of genuine fun even if they are small and generally forgettable.
To make matters even worse, Super Dungeon Bros rarely feels kind to the player. I already mentioned how unbalanced the co-op experience can be whether it’s local or online but that’s really just the half of it. Load times are outright atrocious, and the in-game purchases for additional characters and music are inexcusable for a game that already feels limited in content at its current asking price.
There isn’t much else to say about Super Dungeon Bros other than to give it a pass. It isn’t an awful game, but it sorely is in need of retooling, especially when it comes to co-op play. There are times when it all comes together where the foundation of a good dungeon crawler begins to show its face, but gameplay imbalance and spotty controls repeatedly get in the way. The developer appears to be listening to feedback from players so it’s possible that Super Dungeon Bros will have the problems I mentioned ironed out but, until then, stick with Diablo.
***An Xbox One code was provided by the publisher***
- Some fun moments
- Not balanced
- Expensive microtransactions