Super Dungeon Bros certainly has personality, we'll give it that. The title is shouted at you above a heavy soundtrack, the game tells you to 'Press X to rock', and you feel like you know how things are going to go from there. When you start the quest, an opening cut-scene begins, introducing the bros (all named after rock stars, of course) and their "awesome, dude!" personalities. A vinyl record played backwards tells them to use the power of rock to conquer the crypts, because then they'll get better weapons and, er, that's cool, right?
But oddly, that's more or less where the rock theme ends. The game plays out as a co-op, procedurally generated dungeon crawler, with up to four players fighting through typical environments and hoovering up gold. There are chests to find, traps to dodge, and hordes of enemies to hack to pieces, with a final boss awaiting you at the end of each dungeon. As far as the game's structure goes, it's all fairly by the numbers, although there are some interesting twists here and there.
Aside from the main quest, there are daily and weekly challenges to compete in if you're a leaderboard aficionado. These take the form of set dungeon layouts, and see you get as far as you can before losing all your lives. Gameplay is exactly the same here, but your score is given more of an emphasis.
Speaking of gameplay, Super Dungeon Bros is a simple affair. Controls are easy to pick up, but with the procedurally generated dungeons mixing things up every time, there's a need to adapt your approach on the fly. Combat is button-mashy, but the different weapon types all introduce their own moves, so it's useful to have a varied squad.
Gold is needed to purchase extra lives or upgrades for your bro, while gems earned for completing certain objectives are used to unlock new weapons and helmets. Your search for these treasures is made more urgent by the threat meter, which steadily increases the longer you hang around on one depth of a dungeon. The threat level basically translates to how many enemies pounce on you at once; if you spend too much time exploring, you can easily be overwhelmed by the sheer number of baddies swarming you and your comrades. It leads to a rapid risk/reward dynamic, where you'll want to explore to find chests and you'll want to fight enemies for the gold they give you, but hanging around too long can lead to a speedy demise.
Another twist is that, no matter how many players in your party, you all share one pool of lives. There is a window of time in which you can revive each other to avoid using a life, but it's slow and not always the best option. This reinforces the notion of working together, as does the fact that you're all awarded the same amount of gold collected during a level. This is definitely a game best played with others, not least because going solo against the amount of enemies thrown at you nearly always ends in disaster.
Unfortunately, unless you can get some friends around to play locally, you might be stuck playing alone. We tried countless times to find an online game, and it was never able to pair us with other players. We're not sure if this is a software issue or if it's just that no one's playing, but either way, we were unable to test this side of the game, which was a real shame. Inviting other players does appear to work, however, so if you can find three others with the game, you'll be able to play that way, rather than relying on the matchmaking.
We've run into a few other problems here and there. The game crashed a few times, and load times are surprisingly long. There are also some microtransactions, enabling you to purchase alternative music or characters, but they don't appear to be working. Our biggest issue with Super Dungeon Bros, however, is simply that the rock music theme doesn't mesh well with the dungeon crawler gameplay. It's sort of throwaway, and feels tacked on to make the game stand out. It mentions rock so much, but when it comes down to the gameplay, there's nothing to suggest that this is a rock-themed game at all.
Super Dungeon Bros is a strange case. It's a pretty good dungeon crawler, with decent variety in its gameplay and enough of a fun factor in its scrappy multiplayer to keep you interested. However, the rock theme is underplayed; it lends the game some personality, but is largely ignored, leading to a muddled presentation. Some bugs also hold it back, and the online side isn't very healthy right now, but this could still be a fun distraction in couch co-op with a few friends.