Imagine a world where Diablo III isn’t the dungeon crawling masterpiece that it is. Just imagine that the world you are exploring is bland with no actual exploration required, there is no actual storyline, and most importantly, the combat is just awful. Well don’t worry, you won’t have to travel to a parallel universe to find such a game, as they exist with us here and now as there are numerous Diablo clones, and the latest is Super Dungeon Bros. Revealed at the 2015 Game Developers Conference by UK-based publisher Wired Productions, developers React Games have tried to capture the ‘bro’ culture in Super Dungeon Bros, promoting a fun, heavy metal inspired action packed game where, as they put it so eloquently, ‘Bros B4 Foes’. It has been a slow development process for Super Dungeon Bros with no news coming from either company for several months, until in September of this year, Wired Productions announced a release date of the 1st of November. It was also announced a few days before release that the ‘Broette’ DLC would be free on launch day. Is Super Dungeon Bros an okay Diablo clone? Or should it be locked away in a deep, deep dungeon where even four bros couldn’t find it?
Set in the world of Rokheim, you can play as one of the four bros: Lars, Ozzy, Freddy, and Axl. You will then explore three areas within Rokheim: Cryptheim, which is a dungeon complex where the dead are collected, Chillheim, which is a brewery at the top of a mountain, and lastly Bogheim, which is a jungle area where sought after spices are secreted from flowers. Why do you need to explore these areas, I hear you ask? Is there someone to rescue? Is there an evil wizard who wishes to raise the dead, steal some beer, and sniff some flowers? The short answer is no, there is not. There is no actual story in Super Dungeon Bros, React Games seemingly want to leave the players to make their own stories from the surroundings. Which would be fine, as that can work if the created worlds were interesting and contained collectables to be able to piece a story together. Super Dungeon Bros, unfortunately, has neither. However, this is a game created mainly to play with friends, so maybe a lack of story could be excused if the gameplay is fun? But again, this is not the case with Super Dungeon Bros.
Simply, Super Dungeon Bros is a dungeon crawler. You will face a multitude of enemies while you make your way through the various stages of the dungeon. Enemies come in different degrees of difficulty depending on what level of the dungeon you are currently working your way through. While making your way through the different levels, you will have a threat meter. This measures your aggressiveness and will reset once you go to another level. If the threat meter reaches the top, then a horde of enemies will try to put an end to your adventure. Generally, you won’t fill this meter, but if you spend too long in one spot, then enemies will spawn, and then you will find yourself filling the threat meter up. There are also very few health pickups which come in the form of a cold mug of beer. This forces you to try to approach combat in a sort of measured approach, especially if the enemies are the tougher kind. The age-old attack, roll, attack, roll works well in Super Dungeon Bros.
The levels themselves have some bright and colourful visuals but become very repetitive as you keep moving through the different levels since there is no exploring in Super Dungeon Bros. The minimap HUD is fully complete in every level you find yourself in. There are a couple of offshoot paths, but they do not really deviate away from the main path you need to follow, and you see them all clearly from the minimap. If you do decide to head down these paths where a treasure chest is waiting for you, do not expect to find anything interesting, just coins.
Combat in Super Dungeon Bros is awful and comes in two different forms: melee and ranged. There are three different attacks: normal, strong, and special. When you use your normal attack in melee combat, you are pretty much stationary. There is no running and slashing in this game, which when you are surrounded by a horde of enemies is very frustrating. Strong attacks suffer from a similar problem, but they generally will kill most enemies in a couple of uses, so you will often find yourself spamming that button. Once you get the hang of being pretty much stuck in the spot you are attacking, combat is dull and repetitive.
Special Attacks are really not that special and do not replenish once you move onto a different level, so to replenish them you will need to visit one of the randomly generated merchants that pop up and buy some new ones. Ranged combat is equally as bad as its melee counterpart, suffering the same awful mechanics and being just as repetitive and dull. The different enemies you face are really not all that different, you will mainly be facing melee styled enemies with an occasional ranged magic enemy popping up every now and then. A challenging boss at the end of the areas would have been welcoming, but alas, they are easily dealt with much like their minions are.
If you know other people with a copy of the game, or if you invite friends around for a gaming night, then this is the only way you will experience the co-op part of Super Dungeon Bros. I waited for well over half an hour for the game’s servers to find three other players to find. This is either due to the servers themselves or simply no one is playing Super Dungeon Bros, and I am obliged to go with the latter. If you do manage to play with three other people, then combat becomes a little more bearable as you can do special moves with your other bros, or you can simply pick one up and throw them at an oncoming horde. With the problems of trying to find someone online to play with, I wish React Games would have just added three computer controlled characters in the solo mode, or at least the ability to have another bro with me. At the end of the day, if you don’t know any bros who want to play Super Dungeon Bros, then you’ll be playing by yourself, as there is literally no one online waiting to play.
Developer: React Games
Publisher: Wired Productions
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Release Date: 23rd July 2016