I jumped into this game optimistic that it would be pretty good, at least half way decent. It is from HyperAwesome Games and while I have never really heard of them before they do have Awesome in their name so how bad could it really be right? Turns out... not too awesome.
Right out of the gate Dungeon Punks has a great feature going for it. It has local Co-op. It’s nice to see developers implement this feature in their games. Maybe it's the nostalgia but I do like to play games with other people on my console. That or it’s two of my three kids that I have to lobby game time from in order to play. Regardless 1 to 3 people can simultaneously play in campaign mode and PvP aka Joust.
Dungeon Punks says they are an RPG brawler and that’s not entirely lip service. When you start your game you’ll get to choose between 6 classes. First up is the Tempest Knight. This one looks a bit like a cyborg to me. He has a bonus to strength but takes penalties to speed and magic. Then there is the Drakken. This one looks like a happy alligator, dragon, man hybrid. He takes major penalties to strength which seems weird because it’s all muscled out in the animation, but has a big time speed and magic boost. Then there is the iconic Dwarf. He looks like a dwarf complete with big bushy beard. As one would suspect he has superior strength but takes penalties to magic and speed. Opposite the Dwarf is the Djinn. While the red of his skin matches the red of the Dwarf armor that is where the similarities end. The Djinn takes a penalty to strength but makes up for it with a boost to speed and magic. Next to last is the Were-Witch. It looks more like a werewolf but who am I to judge? It is very blue and everybit as muscular as the Drakken only it has a strength bonus. To offset that it takes a penalty to speed and magic. Finally we have the Hierophant which looks like an Anubis. This is the only character that is clearly a woman. Like the Tempest Knight she has the most moderate stat adjustments. Where the Drakken has a -50% to strength she only has a -10% but has a Speed, and Magic increase of 10%. Each character is distinct both visually and in their playstyle.
Once you pick your character to play with, if you decide to go solo, the game will auto populate the rest of your party, whether you like it or not! I mention that because you are subject to friendly fire in this game. While you are busy beating up the enemy make sure you aren’t busy beating up on your buddies as well. If you do fly solo you’ll be able to switch between the different members of your party as you please.
Typically you’ll move from left to right and clear an outdoor area of enemies. Once everything is dead you can move on to the next section. Most zones will culminate in a boss battle. There can also be minibosses through the area too. While you progress through the areas you can encounter NPCs that will give you quests. You’ll earn gold and soul shards for completing these quests. Gold is useful to buy new gear while soul shards come in hand for resurrection insurance when you die. Enemies will also drop a ton of new gear as you kill them. This includes armor with a variety of stats and weapons that have stats and latent spells attached to them. This is a bit of a bash’em up, beat’em up, 2d sidescroller RPG. You’ll also get stat boost between missions as you level up. When that is done you can purchase new skills and abilities commensurate with your new level. They will cost an increasing amount of skill points as you level. If you are unsure what to purchase the game will automatically decide for you if you ask it to.
One thing I found extremely odd is that left stick movement is set to off by default. Who ever thought of this needs to take a remedial class in game design. This was a horrible idea. As a player do yourself a favor and immediately go into the settings and turn it on. Moving around with the D pad anymore just feels plain clumsy. This isn’t the PS1.
Magic in this game is a fickle beast for a few reasons. First as you increasingly gain more spells the control combos to cast them become cumbersome. Also chances are you are going to do as much damage to one of your buddies as you are going to do to a bad guy.
I didn’t come into Dungeon Punks expecting it to have a great story but it turns out to be exceptionally poor. It has some interesting elements and attempts to be funny but just isn’t. The jokes are forced and fail. Conceptually it’s okay but the dialogue falls short.
You can find Dungeon Punks on the PSN store for $15. It’s also on XBox and coming to steam soon. If you are looking for a coop game to play on the couch with friends you would probably be better served by something else. I hear Mario Party is nice.
A copy of Dungeon Punks was provided to us by their PR team.