By Phil Schipper / October 14th, 2015
|Release Date||July 23, 2015 (Early Access)|
“Welcome… to the Dungeon League!” This enthusiastic voice is here to beckon us into the Early Access version of this crazy, retro, team-based action game. Why don’t we just dive right in?
In a round of Dungeon League, players use their character’s basic weapon and unlockable skills to fight monsters, and, sometimes, each other. Most of the characters have projectile attacks, but a couple of them are melee fighters. Skills beyond the normal attacks include traps, buffs, healing and other tricks. However, to use any special skills the character has to level up mid-battle by defeating foes, and they also have a mana cost and so forth. Though this sounds like an RPG — complete with carefully considered choices — the truth is that the skills are often just more buttons you can mash while running frantically around the battlefield.
The combination of skills to acquire — and the order in which they are upgraded — can be chosen and rearranged to your heart’s content before the battle starts. Likewise, armor and accessories are automatically bought as your character picks up enough gold, and you can specify the order for that in the shop menu. A player can easily accept the default to jump into the game, but each character also has a secondary build option and three slots for custom builds. This is true in both the skill and shop menus, independent from each other. That means you could easily put a lot of thought into how you play, but the casual player need not ever consider or even know about those options.
At the moment, there are a lot of “COMING SOON” signs in the Dungeon League menu, but there are two modes that are accessible already: Survival and Tournament. Survival mode can be played alone or cooperatively, and it’s pretty much what it sounds like. A central hub is surrounded by enemy spawners, and the players have to survive and defeat as many waves of enemies as they can. All the classic skeletons, slimes and minotaurs are here to play, and some of them can set you on fire. With the help of a friend, I was able to get well into the second wave, but, in general, it feels sort of like a sadistic player-killing machine.
Tournament is competitive. As of now, there is no AI player option, but the human players you have can form teams or play free-for-all. Once you’re all set up, the players will be dropped into a procedural map. Every single round is a different mode, ranging from the familiar deathmatch or capture the flag to a checkpoint race or this game’s strange version of king of the hill. You can focus on the main objective, fight with other players or do some quick leveling against the wandering monsters. After about two minutes in one round, the winning team will get a point. The first team to reach three points is the match’s victor.
At first, the clear voices of the announcer and characters don’t seem to match up with the retro graphics, music and other sounds. However, their sort of campy dedication actually adds to the charm of it all. It sort of brings me back to the cartoons that appeared around the same time as the graphics quality suggests, if that makes sense.
As noted above, it’s hard to tell what Dungeon League’s full potential is, but, at the moment, we can try out the gameplay in a limited way and realize that it’s just a lot of fun, at least when playing with others. I haven’t really found anything yet that would compel me to play it by myself at all, but, with buddies around, it’s already great. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on this game’s future.
Review copy supplied by the publisher.
achebitActionDungeon LeagueRPGSurprise Attack Games