***On this week’s podcast episode we talked about two fun games that publisher Surprise Attack Games was gracious enough to let us play and discuss. This is the first of two reviews of those games.***
Simple multiplayer games that lend themselves to easy pick up and play notions aren’t something you see every day. Sure there are a ton of team-based or versus games, but many of them can be intimidating and can lack a sense of humor. Thankfully Dungeon League manages to be diverse and deep while keeping everything manageable for players of all skill levels and the result is a fun, frenetic romp that let’s you jump right in and embrace a steady but reasonable learning curve. Or you can just have fun trying to kill your buddies.
Before you enter the arena, you’ll pick from a large number of heroes all with different default and unlockable attacks. Swords, projectiles, magic, and more are all represented here and all of them have unique additional attacks that make each one feel truly different from the others. Once you’ve determined who suits your play style best you’ll then visit the trainer and shopkeeper. Here you’ll be able augment your speed, defense, etc. and also buy items to enhance your chances in the dungeon. You can even bribe the shopkeeper if you have the gold to spare! Each game is composed of 5 two-minute rounds, so you’ll be able to take a breather and re-equip yourself within each game. I liked this a lot. It felt like a boxer going into his corner between rounds, or intermissions in other sports that serve as a break in the action but also to strategize for the next go.
Each round starts the players in separate corners of the map and the parts that have yet to be uncovered are dark. As each player progresses through towards the inevitable clash with each other, they’ll encounter many a monster and hopefully some treasure chests. Nice dynamic lighting effects show you the way as you travel from room to room.
As far as the structure of each round, you’ll never know what parameters the game will throw at you. You can be tasked with finding the Witches’ Eye before the other players for example. Other times the only rules are kill or be killed in classic deathmatch style.
What I like most about Dungeon League, even in its Early Access build, is how reminiscent it is of a couch co-op game. The throwback graphical style and quick bursts of fun that don’t overstay their welcome had me nostalgic for a simpler time. The great thing about Dungeon League though is that it also uses modern graphical enhancements when necessary while still retaining a vintage feel, and if you choose to augment your character as each battle progresses you’ll find a ton of depth for a game where each tournament lasts only ten minutes. Win or lose, it’s easy to jump right back in and try things another way or perfect a strategy you’ve been honing.
All in all, Surprise Attack Games and developer achebit have managed to build an incredibly strong foundation for an Early Access game that, when complete, I imagine will benefit from its welcoming structure and ease of use, and many players will find out how much more it really does have to offer after their first few dungeon brawls.