Thanks to HYPERAWESOME Games for the review code
Title: Dungeon Punks
System: Playstation Vita/TV
Release Date: 08/15/2016
In this side scrolling brawler, you take control of one of six heroes tasked with helping a kingdom through numerous tasks, although something seems to be determined to mess everything up at the last moment, leading you to find a way to fix the problems you create with your help!
Right off the bat its apparent that this game takes clear inspirations from pop culture for the character designs. Your commander looks very similar to the infamous commander Napoleon, enemies look as if they were taken from old fairytales and the main characters are based off of ancient legends for the most part, although you get the occasional oddity such as the Were-Witch looking a bit too much like Jon Talbain from Darkstalkers. Menus are quick to navigate, although it should be noted that the full HUD doesn’t display by default, leading to a bit of confusion when me and my friend went through the first two chapters before discovering that it could remain on screen at all times.
Music and Sound
The music is unfortunately bland and forgettable, no thanks in part due to it sounding like a generic orchestra at time along with a mix of ambience every now and then. There’s also this high pitched sound effect that’s used for closing any text box in the shops, which can get on your nerves rather quickly.
When starting up the game, Dungeon Punks advertises itself as a “Tag Team Action RPG” which is partially true once you get going and understand the controls, although it plays more like a traditional brawler than anything else. Before entering the intro stage to the game, you get to choose three of the six heroes to start out with on your journey, and this is where the multiplayer comes in. Being one of the very few games where the PSTV grants extra features, it made it quick and easy for a friend of mine to use a Dualshock 3 controller to take control of the second player, leaving the third choice to be a CPU. (The same happens if you go solo, where the other characters are controlled by CPUs)
Once you and possibly some friends choose your team of three, you’re off into the first level where you learn the basic rules of combat, which include moves like basic attacks, spells that can be upgraded and used with a button combination and a “Rage” screen-clearing attack. As you get the hang of the relatively simple combat and defeat enemies, you’ll gain gold and some experience, which like in a normal RPG increase your stats over time, opening the way for new skills and better equipment.
Completing sidequests found in each stage can also help with improving your character, and you’ll need to take these quests to have a fighting chance at beating this game, since unfortunately Dungeon Punks also brought grinding to the table. While the tutorial level starts off easy enough, essentially every level afterwards depends on you beating up the same waves of enemies over and over again to level up, get stronger, escape to the world map to buy some upgrades, and rinse and repeat. With some friends, it’s not too terrible since the three of you will be able to keep your eyes out for enemy attacks and dodge accordingly, but if you end up with CPU players you’ll more or less be forced to upgrade characters you barely get to control while the braindead CPU takes control of the unoccupied characters. What’s even worse is that when you unlock the remaining characters you didn’t start out with (done midway through the story) you’ll have to give two of them to the CPUs as well, meaning that if you go solo you have four braindead characters to keep an eye on!
Nevertheless, my friend and I couldn’t help but be frustrated having to repeat the same parts of each stage over and over again, gradually making more progress the more we leveled up before we finally worked together to defeat the boss. Thankfully if only one of your teammates dies you can still keep going, which in the case of the CPU players mean you won’t have to worry about a cheap gameover because they ran into an enemy. Still, each stage introduces tougher enemies, so clearing one stage will just lead into a stage with brutal enemies until you can reach the same ground as them, making for a tedious experience overall that my friend and I gave up on about halfway through the story.
In conclusion, Dungeon Punks has a few cool ideas, with the ability to use extra controllers when playing on the Playstation TV, sidequests that you can undertake and new skills to upgrade or unlock, its a shame that the fun you can have with those ideas gets tossed out the window once you begin clearing some stages, mainly due to the grind-heavy campaign and overall repetitive nature.
If you have a friend or two, I think that Dungeon Punks will be an OK game for you to play if you can handle some grinding, but if you’re a solo gamer I really can’t recommend Dungeon Punks at all, mainly because the braindead AI is not a suitable replacement for a real person, and with the lack of any online features Dungeon Punks turns into a brutal single-player game. For $15 you’ll get your moneys worth in length, just not from the right kind of padding. I give Dungeon Punks a 5 out of 10, and only recommend it if you’re willing to take a challenge and have some buddies around. The good news is that with the vita version, you’ll get the PS4 version for free via cross-buy, helping with the value a bit more.