Preview

Super Dungeon Bros.

Dungeon-Crawling With A Dose Of Heavy-Metal Thunder
by Jeff Cork on Jul 01, 2015 at 08:42 AM
Publisher: Wired Productions
Developer: React Games
Release: Winter
Rating: Rating Pending
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Aside from encounters with the occasional boulder-slinging ogre, dungeon-crawlers have been light on hard rock. React Games is addressing that with its upcoming game, Super Dungeon Bros., a four-player co-op game where heavy metal isn’t just for smithing. We joined a full crew and played through one of its procedurally generated levels. From what we experienced, it looks like it’s on course to bring something different to the genre.

Anyone who’s played a dungeon-crawler can probably sketch out a rough outline of Super Dungeon Bros. without setting an eye on it. Procedurally generated dungeons? Check. Waves of trash mobs between tougher baddies? Check. Swords? Axes? Breakable crates? Check, check, check. One key thing that sets the game apart is its silly tone.

You play as one of four rock-obsessed fighters: Axl, Freddie, Lars, and Ozzie. They’re associated with a specific color (blue, red, yellow, and green), but fortunately that’s where their affinities end. There are several classes of weapons to choose from in Super Dungeon Bros. – fairly standard stuff for the genre – but the characters aren’t locked into a specific type. When you pick Axl, for example, the choice of how you destroy monsters is up to you, whether you prefer the range of a crossbow or wand, or getting more personal with a hammer or sword. There are several individual weapons under each archetype, too, each with its own special abilities. During my session I picked Lars, the so-called nice guy, who was wielding a sword.

The action is rambunctious and over the top, as the four heroes chaotically clash through skeletons, bats, and other creatures. We played in the Cryptheim world, an underground dungeon network designed to process the dead. That explains all those skeletons. You can pick up your friends to use them as projectiles, toss them across gaps, or to chuck them into the abyss. That kind of sabotage may not help anyone, but it’s not exactly discouraged; players lose only a tiny sliver of health for the falls. Players can also stack up to perform co-op moves like the Bro Nade, a four-person whirling dervish of death. Players do share a pool of five lives, so playing like an idiot will ultimately hurt the group.

That’s not to say the characters aren’t a bit idiotic on their own. Super Dungeon Bros. has a banter system, which lets players call out hazards or simply make jokes using the d-pad. It might not be particularly useful in couch co-op, but people who put online multiplayer games on mute (or anyone who likes a good “That’s what she said,” joke), might find it useful. It’s all accompanied by a metal soundtrack, which is perfect music for head (and skull) banging.

Players keep their progression between single and multiplayer games, which allows them to upgrade stats and accumulate new weapons. There are also hidden shards to collect, which are similar to Halo’s skulls. One makes enemies stronger and heartier, while another creates hero-damaging explosions when fallen foes are killed. They seem like a way to mix up the gameplay in case you get tired of the basic dungeon structure. 

At the end of our session, we faced off against a giant skeleton. We had to avoid his area-of-effect attacks while waiting for him to enter a weakened state. When stunned, players had to chuck their friends onto elevated platforms – the only way the monster could be defeated. He fell, and we all lived to fight another day.

Super Dungeon Bros.’ tone keeps the game interesting, but it remains to be seen how it fares over the long term. From the brief time we spent in its dungeons, we’re ready to rock…again. The game is set to release sometime this winter on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Mac. The game supports cross-platform play, too. Xbox One and Windows 10 players can team up, as can PlayStation 4 and PC/Mac dungeon dwellers.