Death of the Critic

Super Dungeon Bros - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich


It is that time of the month again where we get a new free game from Xbox Live. This month we get the newly released
Super Dungeon Bros, which tries to be part Castle Crashers, part Brutal Legend, and part Diablo all rolled up into a single hack-and-slash dungeon crawler. A supposedly rock and roll themed co-op quest where you fight your standard array of skeletons, floating eyes, and mages in progressively more difficult levels of the dungeon. You take control of one of four rock legends with Axl, Freddie, Lars, and Ozzie rounding out the core cast of characters. With them you challenge the dark land of Rokheim, and unfortunately the place isn’t looking so great. Traps, monsters, and crumbling architecture stand between you and the next level of the dungeon. You and your three color coded friends must push on to try to reach further depths in a quest to see how far you can get.

Unfortunately it is a bad game. Painfully generic backdrops, poor gameplay mechanics, long load times, and over infusion of “freemium” features turn what could be a promising idea into something utterly disappointing. To be honest, it feels like a free-to-play iPad game that somehow got ported to consoles. The idea that they ever charge for this game feels wrong to me, especially when there are so many good free-to-play titles available on consoles now.


Moreover, nothing quite feels right about the way that the game itself plays. The movement feels loose and floaty, with jerky stop and start motions out of your character. Your weapon doesn’t seem to reach as far as it should, and when you swing it, your character grinds to a halt. Which doesn’t help when it feels like everything else can move faster than you when they are fleeing. The game just does not want to respond in the way that a game should, and it makes the experience of playing unsatisfying and frustrating.

This is compounded by the difficulty of the game. Playing alone can be almost impossible (outside of the boss fights which are oddly easier when you play alone). There could be a really intriguing amount of challenge if it didn’t feel like you were constantly fighting with the controller to move forward. When you are playing with other people online, there is a strange decision to keep everyone locked to a single screen. The game explicitly endorses “trolling” your teammates, and I guess by keeping everyone locked to one screen they hoped to increase the interactions between players.

That isn’t what happened. By keeping everyone cramped together, it is all too easy to lose sight of your character on screen, and the frame rate drops precipitously easily when a crowd of enemies spawn. After a few seconds, I could no longer tell what was going on, and if your character neared the edge of the screen, you couldn’t see what was attacking them anymore. A friend of mine and I even got trapped on a platform that repeatedly downed us over and over, and our teammates had to wait until we eventually finally died so that they could move on.


Amongst all of this I tried to find a point to the game, and I really couldn’t. Ostensibly it is about seeing how deep you can get into the dungeon, but it seems like it is more of how many “gems”, a limited currency, you can collect in each run. You of course use these gems to buy new weapons and helmets for your characters. And since you get so few gems per run, and the most expensive items are the most powerful, you can buy supplemental gem packs for the game so you can get items faster. You can also pay real money to buy soundtrack packs, which feels really weird, because it flies in the face of the rock and roll theme of the rest of the game.

There are a lot of weird decisions made in the making of this game. Why is it 5 gigabytes? Why do loading times take two minutes? The supposedly endless dungeon generation quickly reveals itself to be a group of tilesets that starts repeating within a few matches. More than once, I would see the exact same configuration of levels and layouts when I was playing and it was disappointing. The characters in no way look or sound like their namesakes, and they spout a few lines a piece that very quickly get old. Locking everyone to one screen makes online almost unplayable, and the controls are some of the worst I’ve experienced in a while. The enemies are generic and annoying and the free-to-play aspects feel contrived and scummy.

I don’t like this game. I don’t like it at all. It is aggressively bad, and the best time I had was trying to kill my teammates as a friend and I got trapped in infinite loops of death. Don’t play this game. Even if it is free.


Review written for the Xbox One version of the game. Your experience may vary on different platforms.

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Tom has been writing about media since he was a senior in high school. He likes long walks on the beach, dark liquor, and when characters reload guns in action movies.

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