Developed by Underbite games is Super Dungeon Tactics, a cute game which relies on strategy, refreshing quirks, and humorous dialogue to entertain players. The mechanics and concept provide hours of fun – if strategy games are interesting. About three or four hours buzzed past before I noticed the time…
Introduction to Super Dungeon Tactics
The studio that set up its base shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan has worked in partnership with a variety of different companies on projects such as Kixeye Inferno Backyard Monsters and Zynga’s Farmville, along with many others. Interestingly enough, Super Dungeon Tactics has a mobile game feel but is available on PC, Mac, and Linux. Plus, the price point is not severe and well worth the cost, sitting around $20 USD! And if this game seems familiar, it’s likely because it originally released as a board game. Before getting into the nitty gritty of Super Dungeon Tactics, fellow EloTalk writer “Ziggy” graced us with a first-look demo review, take a gander here.
This review will cover four different categories which are: gameplay, storyline, characters, and visuals plus soundtrack.
Super Dungeon Tactics start players in the world of Crystalia, created by the tears of the gods which split into pieces to create the world as you know it. However, those beautiful bright colors also introduced the world of shadows – bringing forth The Dark Realm. Because of this, a Dark Consul arose to forge an artifact called “The Midnight Blade” meant to pierce the veil between the two worlds, causing great strife. Our story begins with a merry band of adventurers that set out to save the world of Crystalia.
Despite the interesting and strange beginning, we start in the thick of things. Character personalities are built through quirky dialogue that thankfully is not cumbersome. Such a mechanic allows the player to formulate their own thoughts on the game without taking away its pace. This is part of the appeal for me since lots of time is used to decide actions. Since the storyline is straight forward, it allows accessibility to a large age group.
Starting with two characters to play: a fighter and a mage, the tutorial eases players into the concept behind this strategy game. Instead of being bogged down with a million popups windows like 4x style games, Super Dungeon Tactics gives you the meat and potatoes without a bulky user interface (UI). A dice mechanic creates a layer of strategy to the game and each mission restricts open character slots. Because of the writing, the gameplay is fairly immersive, allowing adults to appreciate the odd quip while remaining family friendly. Not only is the dialogue clean, gameplay is a cinch! Anyone with a mouse can play. It helps that the “chibi” (cute) artwork would attract a variety of players and is overall well put together without having any gameplay bugs.
Noticeably the first feature is the ease of gameplay with camera movements. Virtually all of your actions are done with the spacebar and mouse. It provides an accessibility that doesn’t require rebinding of keys like many other games. The left mouse button is used to attack or move your character. The middle mouse button zooms in and allows movement around the level. The right mouse button pans the camera left and right. Spacebar is hit to change between actions like attacking, moving, or ending a turn. It’s important to note, there is no order to the attack and movement options. Being that it’s a turn-based game, there doesn’t appear to be any timer on actions. All of these features allow players to take minor breaks and is very easy to pick up where you left off!
At the beginning of each round of combat, the player adds dice buffs to their heroes. Only one dice can be given to a hero and cannot be taken off after assignment. In the screenshot below there is a bar with blue crowns and red skulls. Depending on its order determines who gets to distribute dice first. Say there are 3 enemies and 3 of your guys, 6 dice will be rolled. If you are fortunate to pick all your dice first, you can tip the scale in your favor. However, if enemies get to go before you, they can leave you with skulls – debuffs. Dice choice matters! As you can see below, there is a crown followed by a skull, allowing the player to assign dice first.
Gear and Boosters
Players assign gear to their characters and must do so before each mission after the tutorial section is complete. Items do something different so depending on your individual play style, choosing gear is important. It also adds another element to the gameplay in terms of customization. Among many features of the game, this is another I genuinely enjoy – it allows for diverse strategies when progressing through the game.
Laughing while playing, the scripting is fantastic. Even the animations were comical! Because of the visual aspects of the game, the dialogue between characters kept a light-hearted feeling for the player. It’s very easy to kill hours in this game because of the character dialogue in between levels. And us role players had some subtle things to appreciate.
A dwarven fighter and a human mage are your beginning characters in this epic quest to save Crystalia. Other characters like a Ranger, Rogue, and Barbarian are recruited to your party for adventuring later on. Surely the Cleric will appear at one point.
Right away the characters all have different feels to them, making them relatable and three-dimensional. It reminds me of groups I’ve been in for Dungeons & Dragons. Memories of watching “Louis the Rune Soldier” – a Japanese animation series revolving around a band of adventurers – were prominent. The anime is worth checking out, I digress.
Anyway, other than the dwarven fighter, my favorite character is the “Drow Elf”. At least she struck me as such with her pointy ears and general temperament. Just look at her!
Another highly amusing point regarding the characters occurs during combat. If your fighter successfully defends against an attack, a thought bubble shows up with an emoji sticking its tongue out. What’s not to love about that? This leads into the visual aspects of the game.
Visuals & Soundtrack
The whole aesthetic is very chibi-like, which adds to the overall light-hearted impression. It doesn’t feel very heavy like other strategy games do – not that that is a bad thing. Each character has a different look and personality which matches the rest of the game. The atmosphere is pleasing to the player without being in the way and is quite playable by all ages. Those that have played RPG styled games before can appreciate the look of the game.
If there was any kind of gripe about the game, it was the redundancy of the music in the Guild Hall. At first, the epic drummed music was a great contribution to the atmosphere, though over time it droned on. Perhaps I sat too long in there? Some variety for that section would be lovely but honestly, that doesn’t take away much from the game itself. Each level has different music alleviating some of that redundancy. The music doesn’t overtake the gameplay allowing players to focus on their strategy. Sound effects made throughout the game were striking and appropriate.
One last point about sound, it would be a great asset if Super Dungeon Tactics was voice acted. While I had voices in mind when reading the dialogue, voice overs would have been over the top entertaining. While the budget may not have been open to the idea, this feature would have been a lovely inclusion despite its non-necessity. Otherwise, Super Dungeon Tactics seems to have it all!
After the initial launch, the developers added a couple features as this was written like: tutorial messages, description of abilities on character cards, streamlined objective completion triggers, additional sound and control options. Also included is the use of W-A-S-D keys to pan the camera.
Only having done a few missions in the storyline, opting to do the bounties – the first Training Ground felt long. Originally the plan was to take out all of the dummies. However, while waiting for all the pieces to make a move, it took away from the pace throughout the rest of the game. Even when strategizing in levels, it didn’t feel as long compared to the training ground.
Not only does the game run very smoothly it can be played on a large variety of computer systems. Since it is not reliant of real time movement, there are no graphical clipping or collusion issues.
Underbite games have certainly done a stellar job with Super Dungeon Tactics and fans of strategy styled games will enjoy it. Super Dungeon Tactics is on Steam for around $20 USD, you too can have hours of endless entertainment. If it wasn’t obvious, buy this game!
Until next time.