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Super Dungeon Bros is headed to consoles and PC this winter, offering hard-rocking dungeon-divers with a hankering for cooperative mayhem plenty of ways to smash baddies and collect loot. Still in pre-beta, I had a chance to go hands-on with the upcoming title during E3 2015, putting the lighthearted brawler through its paces alongside members of React Games.
Play Super Dungeon Bros for a few minutes and you'll quickly get a feel for the game's inspirations. Games like Castle Crashers and Diablo jump to mind, tossed into a pot with the likes of Ozzy Osborn and Metallica and set to simmer.
Super Dungeon Bros really leans into its namesake, offering up brotastic combat, power-ups and one-liners with tongue planted firmly in cheek.
I had an opportunity to sit down with a number of the team members from React Games, who are working with Wired Productions to bring the game to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac and Windows 10 sometime in the coming months. As a quick special note, React Bro Brad Moss mentioned that the PS4 version of the game will be cross-play with both PC and Mac, while those who choose to rock on Xbox One will be able to play with their Windows 10 cohorts.
In Super Dungeon Bros, up to four players can team up on or offline in order to tackle randomly generated levels built around themes that sound like they were pulled off of a rock album cover or out of a conversation at a frat house. Chillheim, for instance, takes place in a massive brewery run by evil gnomes and trolls. The level I played, though, was called Cryptheim, and it's basically where the residents of Rockheim go when they die.
Team members get to pick one of four Bros, each of which has their own assist ability that can help friendlies or hurt enemies. Players can also pick their favorite weapon, ranging from crossbows and hammers to swords and wands.
Once you've picked your themed world, the team is dropped into a randomly generated map and tasked with bashing their way through five levels. Do that and you'll come face to face with the world's boss, Duke Spook'em, in our case.
Controls are basically what you would expect for an isometric dungeon crawler, with players able to fire off a light attack, a strong attack and a super-charged special action. You can also roll out of the way when the going gets rough, or leap over obstacles for some light platforming challenges. Along with plenty of baddies, you can expect crates stuffed with treasure, the occasional traps and special sections of the map that require teamwork to get past. Some players may need to activate switches to build a bridge for others, or you might need to just pick up your partner and hurl them across a chasm.
Before you ask, the answer is yes, you can also throw your “pals” off of a cliff. And that's exactly what we did...Several times. That kind of goofy trolling without consequences is always nice to see pop up in these types of games. Falling to your death only deals a bit of damage to your character rather than killing them. If you do happen to fall in battle, your bros will have a limited amount of time to revive you before it bites a chunk out of the community pool.
As you gather loot and complete levels, you'll have the opportunity to craft new and more powerful weapons, as well as upgrade your stats along the way. Super Dungeon Bros is a roguelike of sorts, with your stats resetting at the end of each run. You may want to gear your character at dishing out extra hurt one run, then turn them into a human shield the next.
Speaking with React Games' Brad Moss while neck-deep in undead enemies, it's clear that he and his teammates have had a lot of fun putting a rock-heavy spin on a familiar formula, which is clearly geared at being a communal experience.
“You can play up to four players on one screen or, if you want to play online, matchmaking will automatically pair you with another three players,” Moss explained. “The characters—Axl, Freddie, Lars and Ozzie—are all obsessed with their respective rock legends.”
Each dungeon also features a threat meter, which is geared at keeping players moving forward.
“The more that meter fills up, the more enemies will appear in the dungeon,” Moss said. “So you don't want to waste too much time sitting around.”
Players can also communicate with each other using pre-made commands through the D-Pad, and if a teammate uses that same method to answer back, they'll respond appropriately.
“If one character shouts 'Hold on, hold on,” another player can respond and their character might shout back something like 'Let's go! Stop being a wuss.'”
That cooperation blends naturally into the combat, too, as several power-ups you pick up require interaction with teammates. The boss, too, could only be attacked in his final phase by some players throwing their teammates up onto a raised platform.
So if you're looking for a new game to keep your friends planted on the couch for an evening of shenanigans, keep your eye out for Super Dungeon bros later this year.