STAFF REVIEW of Dungeon Punks (Xbox One)


Thursday, August 11, 2016.
by Brent Roberts

Dungeon Punks Box art Well, it's approaching the end of summer, and while some are getting ready to hit the books again Xbox has decided to release some more games they hope are top tier indie titles. One of these games comes by the way of Dungeon Punks from the folks at Hyper Awesome Entertainment. Priced at $14.99 it's only $5 less than other RPG indie games, but the question remains: "What comes with that semi-hefty price tag?"

Dungeon Punks is labeled as an action RPG that provides hours of fun and entertainment. It allows you to control parties of up to six fantasy characters as you set off on your quest for adventure and riches. What you just read is more in-depth than the entire story of Dungeon Punks. You spend your time jumping from job to job, all the while causing so much trouble and commotion that you are forced to flee to the next area in the game. With a heavy emphasis on humor, the execution of the story itself isn't entertaining or top quality, as it would rather focus itself on tongue and cheek chuckles rather than a substantial story that makes gamers want to find out more. Ultimately what this boils down to is a game that is a basic hack and slash side scrolling 2.5D title with what some might see as an anemic amount of RPG elements.


Starting out you select your character. While each one offers different spells and abilities, the entire crux of the whole character selection is based on deciding if you want to wield the steel or sling some spells, and all the while trying to balance out the bonuses and deductions that your character may have. For example, I decided to play as a Knight since it's the most balanced in terms of physical with a +10% to attack and -10% to defense. These RPG elements are fairly thin and stretch in very limited form to encompass both your weapons and shields. Each of those items come in your traditional RPG scaling, with white items being the weakest and yellow items being Rare. Along with some RPG elements there are some weapons that come with unique spells and abilities that be activated by pressing the X and A buttons together.

There isn't much to manage in terms of statistical categories, so think of this as very, very light RPG. After creating your character you begin your quest and find yourself on your airship, and it's from here that you can purchase/equip/sell items from the store or upgrade your spells. As you progress you'll unlock new characters to join your party, and at the back of the airship you can switch to whoever you want via the RB and LB while you're standing right below the character you want to control.


I was surprised to see that there is no Xbox Live connectivity. So, you and your legion on your friends list cannot play this game together, online that is. You can play together if you decide that social interaction is warranted and you hit up your friend’s couch for some local co-op. This type of thinking is about as useful as a screen door on the hull of a boat. In today's world you can't expect to slap together a game with only local multiplayer and not expect to get dinged for it. The developers though, have thought this through and instead of online teammates they fill your team with random AI controlled characters. While this can seem like a good idea, I'm sure all of us who are reading this understand why having human interaction is preferred over clumsy AI. Thankfully you can switch in-between characters on the fly by pressing the LB or RB. You're not told or shown this in any way, but that's because of the gameplay. And speaking of which...

It's simple in nature, yet since nothing is ever taught to you, let me help you out on some basics. First you have to hit start and go into settings and look for something to click on that turns movement by the analog stick ON. Don't ask me why they have it defaulted to only allow the D-Pad for movement. I personally think that the option to turn analog stick movement ON or OFF shouldn't even be an option, it should just naturally be included. You use the A button to swing your weapon, the Y button is assigned to use any consumable item you find in the level, and the X button and/or LS is combined with other buttons and assigned the task of unleashing your spells after you acquire mana. How do you do that? By beating the crap out of every enemy you find. After a few hits you'll get a pop up bubble of sorts that says mana charged and you then decide how you want to use it. As you progress, and you build your team up, you'll gain access to control new characters which will allow you to utilize new abilities and spells.


It's not all misery though for Dungeon Punks. The graphics are very clean and have a cartoonish feel to them, but the real bit of graphical joy comes from using some of the various spells and abilities. For example, there's an ability that the Werewolf (I'm calling him a clone of Saberwulf) has where he howls and multiple beams of energy strike down from above which target several enemies. These dynamic spells fill the screen with excitement, and thankfully you can utilize them quite frequently. Even though the graphics are decent, the sound is the surprising gem in this game. Every level and every moment is reprodced in a sonic surprise that is a delight to the ears and really makes playing Dungeon Punks an enjoyable experience.

Now comes the big question: "Is it worth the $14.99 + tax price tag?" I would pick it up in a heartbeat if it were $9.99, but currently I'm making the $14.99 price decision your call. I understand that there's no online multiplayer, and yes the campaign is short and not overly engaging; however, what Dungeon Punks does is make almost every moment of the game enjoyable, even with those issues I mention above. If you can rationalize that there is more to Dungeon Punks than the faults and flaws, you'll see that there is a quality job in paying homage to a classic gametype that hasn't seen much use in years.


Suggestions:
Please release a patch or update that will allow for online connections via Xbox Live.


Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10

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