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July 2019

Super Dungeon Run

Platform(s): PC
Genre: RPG/Action
Developer: Proper Games
Release Date: 2016

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


PC Preview - 'Super Dungeon Run'

by Brian Dumlao on Dec. 18, 2015 @ 2:00 a.m. PST

Part Diablo and part Pikmin, Super Dungeon Run is a fast-paced action RPG in which you guide a party of heroes on a quest for loot in a dark and dangerous dungeon. Maneuver a party of heroes as they fight their way through perilous levels.

The dungeon crawler has come in one of two flavors: a solo experience and a small multiplayer one. In both cases, your party may be no more than four people roaming around, evading traps and bashing monsters all while trying to gain as much loot as possible. It is a tried and true formula that has remained mostly unchanged because of how well it works. What would happen if you were allowed to have a bigger party during these dungeon excursions? That's the kind of question that Super Dungeon Run is trying to address.

In Super Dungeon Run, you control a group of peasants that's big on raiding dungeons and taking as much loot as possible. Unfortunately, the peasants as singular units are rather weak in attack power and defenses. By teaming up and forming one large mob, they feel they have a better chance at taking home the loot, even if some of them die in the process. As the one guiding them all, your job is to take them as far as they can go.

The game takes a few ideas from different titles and genres and mashes them together. The dungeon-running style of Diablo is mixed with the roguelike trait of level and enemy randomization. It also employs the use of a cumulative leveling system and has you keep all of the gold you acquired in each run before your demise. The horde element will remind you of Pikmin because you're controlling a mass of beings instead of one individual at a time. Unlike that title, though, there is no on-screen commander figure present except for your mouse pointer. It also follows a bit of MOBA sensibility as your characters may all start at level 1 but can gain levels as they progress.

The basics that you would expect from a game like this are all here, but it is the mob that makes it feel different. Even at their weakest, it can be fun to see multiple people move as one cohesive unit through a stage, and it becomes even more satisfying to see them gang up on one enemy and pummel them. They also display some intelligence, as they'll automatically attack anyone and anything in their way, and they'll do the same when it comes to finding piles of gold. All you're really doing is controlling where they're going and occasionally giving them a potion to buff them or extend their lifespan. In a way, it makes for one of the more accessible dungeon crawlers on the market today.

Between dungeon runs, you've got a town hub, and while it may be nothing more than a really pretty menu, it has some important functions. The experience you earn translates into unlockable stat points, which boost things like increased starting number of peasants in the dungeon, starting dungeon level, or starting peasant level. When you add gold into the mix, it also unlocks different peasant classes. The game also sports a crafting section, where you can use gathered elements to craft potions.

It all sounds pretty good so far but the early build could use some improvements. The treasures you find in a dungeon, for example, aren't new. You're either unlocking the ability to transform one of the peasants into a class, receive a potion you already know how to craft, or get materials for other known potions. There aren't any new classes, potions or weapons to discover, so the grinding is even more apparent. The lack of any intelligence on the part of your mob really shows through when they walk into traps by dodging enemies or getting gold. It's often frustrating to see them attack an enemy and then back off into a spiked barrel. Equally as frustrating is the fact that you lack granular control over their movements. Navigating narrow areas often requires you to take multiple minute taps while your peasants have a propensity to get separated from the mob or get stuck behind tables and corners. Combine this with the fact that their attacks are taken rather slowly, and the idea of using a mob becomes less and less fun.

The presentation is quite good. The characters, both friend and foe, may have limited animations, but the color, lighting and shadows are enough to make them stand out from the background. While the title is devoid of voices and the basic sound effects are functional, the music is good, even if the track selection is currently small.

Super Dungeon Run feels like a game that can benefit from short play sessions rather than long ones. The idea of an unruly mob wreaking havoc in a dungeon is appealing until you realize that they lack intelligence and fine control. There's also too much emphasis on the grind, as the loot is simply a means to an end instead of something more exciting. The game is currently in Steam Early Access with no solid release date yet, but here's hoping some improvements come in before the release version hits.

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