Super Dungeon Tactics, for those that don’t know, is a tactical RPG video game based on the “Super Dungeon Explore” board game made by Soda Pop Minis. Super Dungeon Tactics was developed by Underbite Games and appears to be their first official video game (as it is the only game on their website). The trailer, which you can watch below, promises a story driven campaign, a wide selection of characters, customization for those characters, and a fun and exciting tactical combat system. So, how does the game deliver?
Let’s start with the gameplay. Super Dungeon Tactics manages to capture the feeling and mechanics of the “Super Dungeon Explore” board game excellently while also adding elements, such as hero customization, to a level that can only be done in a video game. The combat system is intuitive without being too simple and the game walks comfortably on the line between a good challenge and disheartening difficulty. In the earliest part of the game the tactical options are limited mostly to move and attack, but as you customize your characters the options start opening up. This is definitely a game where the decisions that you make are all important, although it’s forgiving enough that no single mistake is going to ruin your day. With that said, there are some points where the game could be better. Customization seems to be done entirely through equipment, and different characters with the same weapon get the same bonuses from it. The only exception to this is “tokens” which are a piece of equipment that give characters their only really unique combat options. Combat can also drag a bit because many levels have spawners, which spit out more enemies in time. This is a holdover from Super Dungeon Explore and has not been a frequent issue, but when it happens it can be very frustrating.
The characters themselves are interesting, with unique personalities and enough differentiation to make your customization options matter. The Fighter can be a traditional axe wielding powerhouse or he can equip a crossbow and be a walking artillery platform, the cleric can alternate fighting styles between beating people with a hammer and blasting them with a magic wand and so on. This level of variability between heroes and hero options helps mitigate the previously mentioned lack of unique hero abilities, since no two heroes have quite the exact same set of options. The game also bases leveling entirely off of loot, which means that you don’t have to worry about unused heroes falling behind. While I would personally appreciate a little bit more character specific customization, that’s a personal preference rather than an actual failing of the game itself.
This brings us to the story. Now, I haven’t beaten the game so I can’t talk at terrible length about the overall narrative. What I can say is that after about ten hours of playing Super Dungeon Tactics the story has still done absolutely zero to hook me. The writing is ok, characters behave consistently and the introduction of new elements is handled well, the dialogue is a little cheesy but this is a game with chibi sprites so that’s to be expected, but the game doesn’t hook you into what’s happening. The story so far is that the heroes stumble on a hidden village in the middle of the woods that is being attacked by kobolds and decide to set up an adventurer’s guild there and then they just sort of exist and react for the next few chapters. They start to investigate the source of the kobold attacks right after the prologue, but it doesn’t lead to much and I really feel like I’m spending more time waiting for stuff to happen than I spend making things happen. There’s also minimal interaction between your characters and the town they’re becoming a part of. Side quests have a tiny paragraph of setup before plunging you into a fight and pre-combat dialogue has been almost entirely “Hey, this is happening, we’d better hurry and react” with little else to give me any real investment up until this point.
Finally, on the technical side of things, the graphics are fine and the chibi art style helps set the tone for the game early on. The music was solid and while there were some bugs on launch day they seem to have been fixed by now. Even then, the game was cleaner than many bigger titles have been on launch day.
Final Grade: B
Final Grade Justification: This game is really solid on a lot of fronts. The combat is solid and character customization is a fun process, but there are no real perfect elements. The game really suffers for being an RPG that takes its time hooking you into the main plot and there are a few things about the game that will limit its appeal specifically to the tactical RPG enthusiast or to existing fans of the property like myself. With that said, it is well worth the $20 price point if you’re a fan of RPGs (especially the tactical variety) or strategy games in general.