By Henry Badilla / July 1st, 2017
|Developer||Surprise Attack Games|
|Release Date||July 24 2015|
There’s a point in everyone’s life where we start seeing patterns all around us. Things that were hip in the 90’s start coming back to the spotlight. Old movies getting remade, books and TV shows being reborn, even clothes, which show how circular fashion is. The same is also true for games. We started playing alone, until it was possible for two people to play together, then four, and then the whole world thanks to online gaming. But playing with strangers around the globe will never beat the feeling of playing with a friend next to you, and thanks to games like TowerFall this trend is coming back as well. Enter Dungeon League, where we take the concept of a Rogue-like RPG, strip it of its most complex features and turn it into a tournament to face your friends to be the best, all while using a Unicorn that happens to be a magician.
Dungeon League is a Multiplayer Rogue-like RPG in which we will compete with up to 3 other players in a series of challenges, and the first to win 3 times is the victor. There is no plot to discuss this time around, as this is a strictly multiplayer game, with a small single player mode added. So we will be focusing on the multiplayer part.
From the start we can see that the game was designed to be a competitive party game. The hero selection is randomized and in turns, so you can select your character based on what someone else picks. There are a total of 9 heroes at this time, which cover the classes you may expect for an RPG.
We have Cosmos, a barbarian with high defense, Drake, a fire mage who can turn into a phoenix, Freya, a druid that can summon Treants and turn into a bear and I Luna, the classic Archer/ assassin combo, just to name a few. All the known and familiar tropes are here, so if you have ever played an RPG you will find a character that suits your playstyle.
Each character has a Passive skill and 3 active skills, which can be upgraded during the game, along with equipment that can be found or bought. These upgrades are only effective for the duration of the game, and once it ends the next time you play everyone it will be back to level 1. This does ensure that you level up your character how you feel works for you, but since we have few options it can be repetitive if you only use one character.
As mentioned above the game is divided into different challenges or scenarios. After picking a character we have some time to decide which skill to level up and if we want to buy an item, then we are thrown into our first challenge. These are selected randomly from a pool which includes Capture the Flag, King of the Hill, a variant of capture the flag in which we have to capture certain flags in order, deathmatch, Witches Eye in which we have to collect an item and hold it for the longer time possible, and more. All these challenges happen on different maps with random enemies in them. And while defeating the enemies or the other players is not needed to beat the challenge, they help with getting more experience, which leads to more skills and gold.
After a few minutes the challenge ends and whoever scored more points takes the victory. We return to the Main Menu to level up skills and buy items, and the cycle starts again until someone has 3 wins. This mode is called Tournament, and it’s the main mode which requires at least 2 players and can be played in teams or free for all. Unfortunately, there is no option to add Bots for missing players so make sure to have friends before buying it.
The other game mode is called Gauntlet, and it’s a Dungeon Crawler with randomly generated maps. It can be played alone or with 3 other players cooperatively. Similar to the tournament you have to play through 3 different levels before you can level up or buy items, and the game is endless so it’s not really a campaign since you will be just playing to see how far you can go with no plot or purpose.
The game is still in Early Access so there are a few things missing. The options menu doesn’t work yet for example. There is no option to change the controller’s Mapping and there is a rules menu grayed out with a message that says coming soon. The other complaint that I have is that the game needs more balancing with the characters. From my experience playing with a couple of friends the character Cosmo seems to be too powerful and he barely died. Combat, while simple, can be confusing, since there are so many things on the screen, and it’s simple to lose focus on what the objective is and resort to smashing buttons and hoping for the best.
As you can tell from the screenshots Dungeon League uses Pixel art for the game graphics and menus, and chiptunes for the music, to provide the classic SNES feel to the game. Personally, I don’t like the art direction of the game, the dungeons look too dark and all the rooms are similar, and I’m not a fan of the character’s portraits on the game. The sprites of enemies and characters look fine, but since everything can get a bit chaotic it’s hard to tell them apart in the middle of the action. To be honest, I don’t remember the music at all during my time playing it, which means it’s not memorable and just works as part of the background.
As with all early access games it’s hard to judge how good a game can be, as theoretically the developer will be taking all the criticism to improve the game and create a masterpiece. Currently, the game is fun and has a great concept. It can be a solid 5 if more modes and options are added and the issues mentioned above are fixed. For $10 I’ll say give it a go. If you are looking for something new to play with your friends, there is a lot of promise with the game and hopefully it will end up being one of the must-have multiplayer games.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
achebitDungeon LeagueEarly Accessmultiplayerrogue-likeSteamSuprise Attack Games