By Michael Fontanini / April 19th, 2017
|Title||Super Dungeon Tactics|
|Release Date||December 14, 2016|
|Genre||Indie, RPG, Strategy, Turn-based|
One day, you and another hero are wandering in the woods in the land of Crystallia, when you stumble upon some Kobolds. Battle breaks out and you quickly defeat them. Soon after, you find yourself in a hidden village, and end up starting a heroes’ guild. The darkness goes beyond the Kobolds though, all the way up to the Dark Consul. With the threat of attack ever-present, can you protect the village from the rising evil, figure out what exactly is behind it all, and save Crystallia?
Super Dungeon Tactics has multiple profiles and save slots. In practice, the multiple saves in each profile aren’t all that useful though. The reason for this is that each save usually happens at the end of a mission, and there’s generally no reason to back up and redo a previous mission.
The game starts you off with only two heroes, a Dwarf and a fire mage. The heroes each have some minor backstory that you can read about on the lore screen. Whenever you encounter new heroes, you get to name them. They will then join your heroes’ guild (which forms after the tutorial missions). Each hero can use certain types of weapons, but not all. This applies to some other items too, like armor. Most of your time in the game is spent either in the Guild Hall or out on the battlefield.
Each mission includes some story of its own. Most of the time, you find yourself running up against the Kobolds again, but there are often more powerful foes mixed in (like Kobold Ogres). As you advance you find yourself trying to solve a mystery about an artifact the Kobolds are seeking and how it relates to the village. That also leads into why the Dark Consul has taken an interest in the village with the attacks by his Kobold minions.
As you progress in the game, your Guild Hall will get more and more crowded with heroes. You can see in the image above that there are six difficulty levels to choose from before heading out on a mission. The Guild also has an inventory, which grows over time as you get new food, potions, and other items from doing missions. Item slots can be increased with better bags. Each slot can hold one stack of some item. The buttons at the top are for saving and loading stuff.
The icons at the bottom left give access to your map (where you can select a mission). There’s also the heroes screen, where you can change the equipment on individual heroes to strengthen them and to choose which heroes to take on the selected mission. The guild inventory is where you can choose what foods, potions and other items to take with you on the mission. These are important as you WILL need to heal! The game limits how many potions you can take for no apparent reason, and by the late game the guild has tons of low level potions (more than they can ever use). The stack of books icon opens the lore screen where you can read about various things in the world (like your heroes and the various monsters of Crystallia) with new entries unlocking as you progress.
There are three types of missions that appear on the map. Blue tags on a map location indicate the presence of a training mission at that location. Bizarrely, the same blue tags are also used to represent challenge missions. Green tags are bounty missions and magenta tags are story missions. When a mission is selected, it will show you its difficulty rating on the right of the screen.
Hero equipment is divided into four categories, as you can see on the right of the screenshot above. Each hero has four slots for equipping items. The first slot lets you equip pins and medals that give the hero perks as shown above. The second slot is the weapon slot, and each hero can only have one weapon. The third and fourth slots are armor and a miscellaneous item that grants more perks. As usual, perks can be good or bad, such as increased armor or lower move speed.
New items you’ve acquired but haven’t looked at yet appear as a treasure chest icon, as you can see above. Mousing over it will reveal the new item. Not all items can be used by all heroes, either. So you have to click through all of your heroes, and all four categories per hero, to check for new items. That’s a lot of clicking and a bit of questionable design.
With the basics out of the way, we can now look at the meat and potatoes of Super Dungeon Tactics. The screenshot above shows a handful of heroes on a battlefield underground. In each round, you can move each hero once. A hero can move, attack, or skip his/her turn. The blue outline shows the movement range for the selected hero, who can choose to move anywhere in that area. Some maps also have special tiles that heroes can interact with during their turn if they so choose. The tabs at the bottom show information on each of your heroes that are on the battlefield. You can mouse over a tab and it will pop up to show the moves available to that hero.
The icons at the bottom show which team gets to go next. In this level, enemies spawn after the first round. As a result, we see all blue tokens at the bottom of the screen in the previous image, indicating that blue team gets five moves (one per hero). Often, these tokens are all mixed up and unpredictable.
Each round begins with a dice roll. Once the dice have been rolled automatically, you can choose one to put on each hero or click the Auto Assign button at the top of the screen. You can also assign die to a few heroes and then click Auto Assign if you don’t care about the rest. This may happen if the remaining die are all crappy.
The symbols on each die indicate what perk it has. Most dice perks last only for the current round. For example, a die with a red plus will restore 1HP for a hero you put it on. A die with two heals 2HP. The die with the yellow symbol increases the hero’s attack power for this round only. If it has two, then it increases it more. The red or blue symbol means a die will allow the hero to use any move or passive move with the same symbol beside it in his/her moves list. The green symbol increases movement range for that round.
There is a catch though. Enemies also get to choose dice. This means you often won’t get the ones you wanted. There is also a common skull symbol that appears on dice. It can allow you to use moves and passive moves with the skull symbol next to them. This is usually not recommended, though, as they tend to be negative since they cause demotivation and lower your attack stat, for example.
The screenshot above shows one of the heroes who has decided to attack. Once you’ve decided to attack, some tiles are highlighted yellow, indicating where his attack can reach. Enemies in any of those four squares will take damage, unless they have enough armor to block it. Armor absorbs damage until all of the enemies armor is depleted. However, armor also resets at the end of each round, which can be annoying when facing stronger enemies with more armor points. Of course, your heroes also have the same armor mechanic. How much armor they have is determined by their equipped armor and any armor buffs they currently have.
In the gameplay department, Super Dungeon Tactics starts out as a fun little game, but after awhile the charm starts to wear off as the game begins to feel more like a chore than something fun to play. The gameplay suffers because the difficulty curve is very poorly designed, as it ramps up to ridiculous difficulty even if you switch to the lowest difficulty level. This is especially true with the bounty and challenge missions. Some levels, like the first challenge mission and most bounty missions, can be a pain even on the lowest difficulty levels. For example, the first challenge mission felt like they just spammed a bunch of strong enemies and called it a level. The story missions ramp up quite a bit by the late game, too, of course (excessively so).
The music in the game is very good and catchy, too. It sets the mood very well. The sound effects also get the job done nicely. The graphics are well done. For example, the hand-drawn graphics in the dialog scenes have a lot of attention to detail and are enjoyable to look at, as are the graphics in the Guild Hall or on the battlefield.
Super Dungeon Tactics starts out as a very enjoyable game, but after a while, it falls flat thanks to its poorly designed difficulty curve. Other than that, the rest of the game is pretty well-put-together with the one exception of unnecessarily limiting how many potions the player can take on a mission. The game’s campaign will take you 20-30+ hours to complete depending on whether you do the optional bounty and challenge missions and on what difficulty levels you choose to play. Super Dungeon Tactics is available on Steam for $19.99 (for both Windows and Mac). Linux players are apparently out of luck for now. Overall, there are better tactical games out there, such as Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (albeit an older game). Super Dungeon Tactics is the game that asks if you have the tactical strategy to save the hidden village and stop the Dark Consul from taking over Crystallia.
Review copy provided by publisher.
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