Super Dungeon Bros has a name so obvious it seems baffling that it hasn’t been used before.
It’s a game design document in three words. And on first appearances it’s one that works.
Super Dungeon Bros is a co-op dungeon brawler for up to four-players that can be played either locally or online.
Each game takes place in a random, procedurally generated dungeon that features the expected mix of enemies to destroy and loot to collect. The aim of the game is as simple as its title, work with your bro buddies to clear the dungeon, grab some cash and defeat the mid and end of level bosses.
In addition to the standard gameplay modes there will also be daily and weekly challenges to help provide longevity and give players the chance to hone their bone-crushing moves with specific objectives.
It’s a very simple game to grasp. Bros are controlled using a twin-stick configuration for movement and direction, with triggers and face buttons used for attacks, jumps and lifts. It’s as pick-up-and-play as they come.
Each weapon has a standard and special attack. Using the Death’s Crescent sword I was able to mow down hordes of skeletons – endearingly named Boneys – with ease, but when things got tough my secondary power, a hurricane, cleared space and whisked me to safety. Other weapons in the demo included a hammer and – for ranged attacks – a cross-bow. The final game will ship with 16 upgradable weapons.
Combat is simple but enemies are still fun to engage. Each type displays a nice mix of attacking behaviours and defence methods that require a different approach. Trolls, for example, are lumbering but powerful, requiring a little patience. Meanwhile the deceptively cute snow bunnies can quickly overwhelm en masse with their incessant biting attacks.
Perhaps conscious of the need to make the game attractive to players of all abilities each level contains a selection of game modifying shrines. Some make the game easier, improving health or attack bonuses, others make it harder with the opposite effects. The shrines are selected by player vote and should ensure that Super Dungeon Bros remains a challenge as players’ skills improve.
Being a co-op game team work pays off when negotiating busy areas, with crowd control being key to success. Simple puzzle sections also require bro-cooperation with switches and levers requiring multiple players to activate. However, there’s also plenty of scope to stab friends in the back. There’s a smug sense of satisfaction in clearing an area and then flinging your friend from the stage so you can selfishly grab the loot.
Although originally prototyped in Unity 4 Super Dungeon Bros has been built from the ground-up in Unity 5. It’s a simple but impressive looking title with a nice sense of solidity and some cute animations that lend each Bro – and their foes – an easy charm.
And considering their procedural generation, the levels are also well-paced. There’s an ebb and flow to the action that breaks up bursts of combat with moments to catch a breath. These moments are appreciated as events in the game can quickly escalate from calm to chaotic.
The game is also underpinned by a rock music theme – think Brutal Legend – but at this early stage the importance of music to the game isn’t immediately apparent. Adding some guitar squeals to the game’s combat flourishes would be a good place to start, as would a little more sensory feedback when you are gathering loot. The amp needs turning up to 11 to make this aspect of the game sing.
Super Dungeon Bros certainly ticks a lot of boxes though – it’s cute and easy to play, but not without challenge – in fact it’s biggest challenge might be selling itself as a game to be played online, as it feels so well suited to couch play. In both cases player banter will be an essential part of the game’s appeal.
In the words of Wired Productions, who are publishing the game, Super Dungeon Bros is a cross between Diablo and Castle Crashers. It’s a apt comparison and the game is no worse for it. It wears its heart on its sleeve and could well be an unexpected gem when it releases later this year.
Super Dungeon Bros will be coming to PlayStation 4, Mac, PC, Xbox One and Windows 10. The game will also include cross-platform player between PS4 and PC and Xbox One and Windows 10.