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Super Dungeon Bros plays like garbage, with humor to match

Jun 25 // Mike Cosimano
Super Dungeon Bros takes place in Rökheim. There are four rock-themed brothers: Axl, the angry one; Freddie, the one who knows no fear; Lars, the one who keeps saying 'love' ad infinitum; and Ozzie AKA Michelangelo From TMNT, But A Rock This Time. I had to look up this information on the provided fact sheet, because the 'bros' are not characters. They have a "thing" and that "thing" is drilled into your skull like a well-placed icepick at an Italian dinner party gone wrong. Here's an example: when the party encounters some enemies, Lars can say "Careful, they've lost that lovin' feeling." This is the patent pending "Bro Banter" system, controlled by the player via the d-pad. Now, imagine hearing this line dozens of times over the course of a single dungeon run. It's a joke that would be right on the edge of amusing...if told once. And that's not even the worst of it! Ozzie's catchphrase is "That's what she said," a phrase I literally have not heard in years. When this was presented to me, I had to check my calendar to make sure I had not been trapped in some kind of 2011-centric time vortex. The Bro Banter system is supposedly reactive -- you can respond to banter from your compatriots with banter of your own, but I never got it to work organically during my play session. I did manage to get a confirmation that more recorded lines would be coming. Although I wouldn't get my hopes up for that, considering the fact that somebody told somebody else that recording a line from everyone's collective middle school experience and putting it in the game was a good idea. Playing the game is on the same level as the writing; it's bad. The characters are floaty and unresponsive, it feels like you're controlling an invisible character pushing the player character around. And the combat is somehow worse. The heavy attacks and the light attacks feel almost indistinguishable. I also found myself struggling with the controls more often than I'd care to admit in mixed company. It's not that the game is complex, it's just flat -- like a can of soda left out in the sun. The enemies feel same-y, both in terms of design and attacks. What separates an ice giant from a small goblin? Not much aside from their health bars. And when the weapons feel so inefficient, that larger health bar can be a real nuisance. Some of the loot in the full game could potentially mitigate this issue, but the game still has fundamental control issues. Maybe it was that 'last day of E3 funk', but the action made me want to take a nap. In order to complete 100% of the game, players will have to spend about 100 hours of their time with Super Dungeon Bros, which feels like a threat. The game plays terribly, and it's not amusing. Yes, it has couch co-op, but so does the excellent Diablo 3 console port. There are funnier games, there are better brawlers, there are more engaging couch multiplayer titles, there are more rewarding dungeon crawlers. Just because Super Dungeon Bros comprises all of those elements doesn't mean any of them work.
Super Dungeon Bros photo
Keep that dungeon locked
Unnecessary negativity is a blight, especially for writers. It can poison the mind and alienate the reader; a cancerous state of mind that serves nobody. Personally, I try and avoid it whenever possible. That mentality does m...

Borderlands screenshots photo
Borderlands screenshots

Tales from the Borderlands: Catch a Ride screenshots, we got 'em


Catch a screeeeeeeeeen!
Jun 23
// Darren Nakamura
Tales from the Borderlands: Catch a Ride is out today, and it continues the excellence the series has been known for thus far. As I normally do while playing through Telltale titles, I had my finger firmly planted on the F12 ...
Humble Borderlands Bundle photo
Humble Borderlands Bundle

Borderlands headlines the current Humble Bundle


A good entry point for newbies
Jun 23
// Darren Nakamura
Today is just a Borderlands day, it would seem. Not only did the third episode of the stellar Tales from the Borderlands release today, but now we have word that the mainline loot-shooters will be doing the whole Humble Bund...

Review: Tales from the Borderlands: Catch a Ride

Jun 23 // Darren Nakamura
Tales from the Borderlands: Catch a Ride (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: June 23, 2015 (Mac, PC)MSRP: $4.99, $24.99 (Season Pass)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit [Editor's note: there will be no major spoilers present for the episode reviewed here, but events in previous episodes may be discussed.] When we last saw Fiona and Rhys, the duo had just constructed the Gortys Project while Vaughn and Sasha were being held hostage. Atlas Mugged ended with a significant Telltale choice for Rhys to make: trust Fiona in her ability to improvise the situation or trust the shadow of Handsome Jack residing in his own cybernetic head. Though the decision was given a lot of weight, the episode concluded before we got to see much of an effect. As it turns out, the opening sequence to Catch a Ride plays out quite differently depending on which option was selected earlier. It's enough of a difference that along with the review code, Telltale sent a message imploring me to play through the episode twice in order to see just how far-reaching the consequences are. The differences are there, and they persist until about the third act, but at that point the two branches sort of homogenize together. Without giving away too much, trusting Handsome Jack unlocks the help of three characters who aren't necessarily available to those who instead trusted Fiona. However, by the end, all three are out of the picture one way or another, despite that they could have been particularly useful. [embed]294552:59205:0[/embed] It shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody who has played a Telltale game in the past few years that the overall narrative threads all begin and end in the same place, but Catch a Ride does feel like an improvement in that regard, if only slightly. Though the player cannot really affect how the story ends, certain scenes play out differently enough to warrant another look. One silly change I appreciated was that Rhys's Echo Eye ability is corrupted if he lets Jack into his systems. Instead of the dry humor found in the default descriptions, Jack inserts his own brand of over-the-top musings. I do wish this idea were taken further; there is a section in which Rhys has to hack a computer and having a digitized version of Handsome Jack ought to have helped in that situation. Fiona also goes through some questionable design territory with her abilities. Where her sleeve gun was previously limited, providing the possibility for interesting choices, its power is unlocked in the episode. It nullifies the opportunity cost that piqued my interest in Atlas Mugged; when I spent that incendiary bullet singing Finch's hair off in the second episode, I thought that would be the last time. Now it almost feels like Telltale is trying to set Fiona up to be a proper Vault Hunter in Borderlands 3. While on the one hand it will definitely be cool to see Telltale's original characters in Gearbox's next effort in the main series, it would detract from her uniqueness as a smooth-talking con artist were she to become another gunslinging badass. Speaking of characters, we do get a few new cameos from the main series here, although their inclusion feels a bit like fan service. After playing through twice, I'm still not quite sure why they were there, but it could very well be something that is planned to be explained in the future. As it stands, they show up, say some funny lines, do some outrageously violent things, and advance the story in a way, but their motivation isn't clear. That is a relatively minor complaint, especially considering the best thing Catch a Ride has going for it is one of the new characters. Gortys turns out to be a friendly robot and she easily has some of the best lines in the episode. With the personality of an earnest young child, she feels so out of place in the dark wastelands of Pandora that I couldn't help but be charmed. Everybody on the planet is gruff, insane, murderous, jaded, or at least sarcastic that having one character who is none of those is just perfect. Some of Gortys's lines tap lightly on the fourth wall; those are worth a lasting grin. There is one scene of hers in particular that had me laughing heartily, both times I played through. Even knowing it was coming, the setup and delivery were so on point that it killed. Ashley Johnson's voice work was perfect for the role. I don't know how this story ends, but I hope Gortys survives the ordeal in one way or another, because Borderlands needs to keep that character around. It may seem like a lot of my thoughts on Catch a Ride are negative, but they are minor quibbles in the grand scheme. Though I'm a little disappointed the two protagonists aren't using their unique skills as much as they did in the first episode, the story they team up to tell is still completely engrossing. The writing is as sharp as ever, with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. The end of the episode has just the right amount of cliffhanger to it. Tales from the Borderlands: Catch a Ride feels like a complete chapter in the story, but now I have a rough idea for what to expect in the next two episodes. With that narrative skeleton in mind, I am looking forward to watching the rest of the series play out now more than ever. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.] Tales from the Borderlands: Atlas Mugged (iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: March 17, 2015 (Mac, PC)MSRP: $4.99, $24.99 (Season Pass)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit
Telltale Borderlands photo
Worth the fare
[Disclosure: Anthony Burch, who consulted on the story for Tales from the Borderlands, was previously employed at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.] Ever s...

Telltale Borderlands photo
Telltale Borderlands

Meet Gortys in this Tales from the Borderlands: Catch a Ride trailer


She's adorable
Jun 23
// Darren Nakamura
The third episode for Tales from the Borderlands is out today on PC and PlayStation consoles (with the rest out this week) so Telltale sent along this shiny new trailer for it. In it, we see some cameos from Vault Hunters Br...
Sword Coast Legends photo
Sword Coast Legends

Sword Coast Legends' Dungeon Master surpassed my expectations


A critical success?
Jun 20
// Zack Furniss
I was supposed to Dungeon Master a session of Dungeons & Dragons tonight, but that post-E3 fatigue comes in hard. So why not tell you about my hands-on session with n-Space's Sword Coast Legends, a new asymmetri...
Doko Roko photo
Doko Roko

Doko Roko looks magical with big swords and big explosions


Muy loco!
Jun 17
// Ben Davis
I don't care what anyone says, lovingly-crafted pixel art can still get me super excited about a new game. I know a lot of people are tired of pixelated indie games by now, but damn, they can be so beautiful! That's precisely...
Yooka-Laylee photo
Yooka-Laylee

Yooka-Laylee Kickstarter ends with over $3.25 million


More like Moola-Baybee
Jun 16
// Darren Nakamura
It was a long journey, but it has come to an end. A month and a half ago, the Banjo-Kazooie-esque 3D platformer showed up on Kickstarter, and it crushed its initial goal of £175,000 on day one, hitting over &p...
Beyond Eyes photo
Beyond Eyes

Beyond Eyes coming to Xbox One and PC


Hone your other senses
Jun 15
// Zack Furniss
Tiger and Squid is bringing its blind adventure Beyond Eyes to the Xbox One and PC. You play as a young girl without sight, and it looks like a beautiful little romp through a watercolor world. It's set for a 2015 release date.
Bloodstained Kickstarter photo
Bloodstained Kickstarter

Bloodstained Kickstarter ends with over $5.7 million pledged


Hit all stretch goals, set records
Jun 12
// Darren Nakamura
It doesn't feel like it has been a month since we were first asked "sword or whip?" or we first heard the term "Igavania," but here we are. Koji Igarashi and company launched the Kickstarter campaign for Bloodstained: Ritual ...
Bloodstained: Ritual photo
Bloodstained: Ritual

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night cracks $4.5 million, gets Shovel Knight crossover


He's looking bulky
Jun 12
// Chris Carter
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is sticking it to the man, with $4.5 million raised, making it the most successful game on Kickstarter. But IGA and his team aren't resting on their laurels just yet, as even more conten...
Dyscourse DLC photo
Dyscourse DLC

Dyscourse free update 'Indie Island' out now


Formerly known as 'Indie Plane Crash'
Jun 11
// Darren Nakamura
During Dyscourse's Kickstarter campaign, the team at Owlchemy came up with a cool idea: take the basic idea of a bunch of weirdos stuck on a desert island and use indie game developers instead. They are probably still weirdos...
Telltale Borderlands photo
Telltale Borderlands

Tales from the Borderlands Episode 3 out June 23


Catch a Ride
Jun 11
// Darren Nakamura
In life, sometimes it's best to celebrate the little victories. For instance, the forces of the universe have prevented me from attending E3 this year, but as a consolation, Telltale is releasing Tales from the Borderlands Ep...
Diluvion Kickstarter photo
Diluvion Kickstarter

Manage an ornate submarine in the open world of Diluvion


2D and 3D gameplay
Jun 10
// Darren Nakamura
Sure, big name Kickstarters like Bloodstained and Yooka-Laylee are in the spotlight right now with their campaigns winding down having made millions of dollars. But don't forget that there are others out there looking for th...
Sword Coast Legends photo
Sword Coast Legends

Sword Coast Legends releases September 8, new trailer


Put away the pens and paper
Jun 09
// Zack Furniss
I'm loving being a Dungeon Master in the Fifth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons thus far, even if time has done its best to keep me and my adventurers playing Hoard of the Dragon Queen. I'm casting a sideways glance towards...
Humble Bundle photo
Humble Bundle

Old favorites return for the Humble Indie Bundle: All-Stars


Eight solid games for under eight bucks
Jun 09
// Jordan Devore
On the heels of its fifth birthday, Humble Indie Bundle has packaged eight damn fine games for its All-Stars bundle. You probably own most of these, but here goes anyway: Pay what you want: World of Goo, Super Meat Boy, Dust...
Programming puzzler photo
Programming puzzler

Tomorrow Corporation's new game is Human Resource Machine


An approachable take on programming
Jun 09
// Jordan Devore
I liked World of Goo. I loved Little Inferno (for reasons I'm still not sure I fully grasp). I'm into what Tomorrow Corporation is cooking. The team's next game, Human Resource Machine, is an exercise in controlling office w...

Review: Massive Chalice

Jun 08 // Steven Hansen
Massive Chalice (Xbox One, Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Double Fine ProductionsPublisher: Double Fine ProductionsMSRP: $19.99Release Date: June 1, 2015 A talking cup with the alternating voices of an old man and younger woman gives you a "Hello Commander," informing you that you, an immortal being tied to the chalice, are the only one who can navigate humanity to victory against the encroaching, monster-filled Cadence. With that brief set up, you pick five pre-generated families to serve as your starting vanguard of fighters. It's an aesthetic choice. Try and pick families with distinct flag colors (and fun surnames) because otherwise keeping track of them is a mess. The Fab Five have different stat-affecting traits (bred) and personalities (learned) and three different base classes that can be combined to make sub-classes with slightly different abilities. You're also seemingly bound to get stuck with an asthmatic early on whom you can rightly cast off into the scary orange mist because they will be useless and the life of an individual isn't worth much in a 300 year war effort. Massive Chalice operates on two levels. Combat is turn-based with grid movement and two actions per turn. Walk a bit and then attack, or walk further and leave yourself unable to attack are the big ones. The latter has a chance of leaving a character screwed if they wander into the obscured battlefield Fog of War and reveal a pack of waiting enemies. Outside of combat, there is scant decision-making and a lot of hitting the Advance Timeline button as you try to make it to year 300 to destroy the Cadence by building kingdoms for your characters to bone in to produce better soldiers and advance the bloodline. [embed]293482:58868:0[/embed] Combat, however, feels one-dimensional, perhaps appropriate for the rote meat grinder that is 300 years of war. There's no cover or overwatch, never objectives beyond kill everything within line of sight. Inch forward, kill, inch forward, kill. I often had to double back through the sometimes obnoxiously routed, procedurally generated levels to off one last monster that was content to, I guess, walk around in circles in the far off map corner for all its turns. Enemies are impressively distinct. Ruptures create a wide berth of corrosive tiles upon death, Lapses sap soldiers' XP, Wrinklers age soldiers on contact. But Massive Chalice only metes out these highly specialized enemies and facing them over and over, in larger and beefed up quantities, gets tiring. Its turn-based strategy feels brute forced and basic. Even with the addition of sub-classes and the tips screen advising carrying members of every class, I still felt like fielding a team of five Hunters to SOCOM its way through fights was ideal and borderline easy (on Normal mode). The Alchemist's volatile, limited projectiles killed more of my own troops than enemies in my last run and sending the melee-focused Caberjack into the fray always feels too dangerous. This, though, raises a huge problem with the lengthy final fight that I've found unwinnable without the area of effect moves of the other classes. Nation management, too, feels simple and sterile. You are asked to choose between research projects which take years to finish. The most obviously necessary are the Keeps, which is where you retire soldiers to and appoint a mate on the grounds of eugenics. I find that once I get Keeps built and Übermenschs screwing, research becomes haphazard. A couple pieces of gear (mainly for Hunters), the experience raising item, and then I'm mostly choosing something at random and slamming on the "Advance Timeline" button until someone else dies of old age and needs to be replaced at their post. It is clinical and the soldier stat effects feel slim (so long as you avoid breeding a handful of proper blights, like asthma). The idea of bloodlines is a good one, but the sparse overworld (the same Simon panel of territory and occasional, stoic look at a throne) does not support any narrative or connection in the vein of a Crusader Kings-like strategy game. All there is are brief, occasional text adventure events that have you make a decision (how will you settle a squabble between two troops?) that might affect some mild stat. Meanwhile, the short shelf-life of fighters doesn't support any connection to individual troops in combat, save for the one or two fights you'll have a high-level troop with a funny nickname. The most attachment I felt was to a flag color. This becomes a weird problem with the ending, which tries to suddenly loop back around and deliver an unnecessary story element that, at best, would "explain," in-universe, subsequent playthroughs. It is odd, unnecessary, and even robs you of basic world-saving catharsis. It also reminded me that, on Normal, I've yet to come close to my kingdom falling, which belies roguelike claims, while on the other hand I sort of dread playing 300 more years (plus failure restarts) on higher difficulties because of the simple combat. Massive Chalice is both beautiful and approachable, somewhat rare qualities in the genre. But its 300 year arc bends toward apathy and inhumanity. By mid-game, what was novel and enticing becomes a slog. The nation and bloodlines are mostly built out, ending the high level tactics, and battles become more brute force as the same enemies double in HP, power, and quantity. I felt like middle management making the same position appointments that a computer could make more quickly and all I got for my click click clicking was combat with bigger numbers on the same handful of stages. There is some payoff with the bloodline idea at the end, but it is not worth the rote meat grinder to get there. [This review is based on a retail build provided by the publisher.]
Massive Chalice review photo
Great fighter with a glass jaw
Double Fine's less scrutinized Kickstarter success, Massive Chalice, has been formally released half a year since entering Early Access. Along with Invisible, Inc., it formed a one-two punch of time-eating, XCOM-tinged turn-b...

Bloodstained Vita photo
Bloodstained Vita

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night will get a PS Vita version


By the same team doing the Wii U port
Jun 06
// Darren Nakamura
Back when Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night hit its Wii U stretch goal a week ago, it also revealed that for an additional half million dollars it would come to the PlayStation Vita. I was pretty sure it would hit that b...
Mighty No. 9 photo
Mighty No. 9

Mighty No. 9 has a one-hit-death mode


Uh, thanks but no thanks
Jun 03
// Jordan Devore
A few Mighty No. 9 updates to talk about today. First, all launch-window versions of the game will come with the Retro Hero DLC, which gives protagonist Beck a blocky, weirdly Minecraft-esque appearance and, good lord, a one...
Play this game photo
Play this game

Hot Date is a MERCILESS pug speed dating sim


Amazing and free
Jun 03
// Steven Hansen
Dates are sweet. The fruit. Dating? Hit or miss. So many games with dating elements boil down to easy win conditions, wooing success. It's very easy to pick out what you're supposed to say to these fake, digital people to mak...
Team Fortress 2 photo
Team Fortress 2

The Team Fortress 2 Maps Workshop Beta has arrived


We're free from the tyranny finally
Jun 03
// Joe Parlock
A few years ago, I used to read through a forum dedicated to making maps for TF2. It had people producing stuff that might be even better than the official maps from Valve. They would collaborate, share tips, and teach each o...
Gravity Ghost PS4 photo
Gravity Ghost PS4

Gravity Ghost is headed to PS4 with some new content


Erin Robinson's first console game
Jun 02
// Darren Nakamura
Gravity Ghost released early this year, and I thought it was a touching tale alongside its entertaining zen gameplay. Though it was well received critically, its audience has been limited to those playing on PCs. Soon, that p...
I wish I was a baller photo
I wish I was a baller

Regular Human Basketball is a beautiful monstrosity


For two to ten players
Jun 01
// Jordan Devore
The creators of Crawl have come out with a free game for Windows, Mac, and Linux that has friends jumping aboard giant basketball-playing robots and controlling their individual mechanisms to perform different functions. Reg...
Mystery Trading Cards photo
Mystery Trading Cards

Steam is dropping Mystery Trading Cards right now


Gearing up for the Summer Sale, probably
Jun 01
// Darren Nakamura
I just happened to craft a badge this evening (for 0rbitalis -- review incoming) and with the dropped rewards I saw mostly the usual stuff: a background, an emoticon, and one other thing. Usually that third thing is a coupon ...
Bloodstained Wii U photo
Bloodstained Wii U

Bloodstained hits Wii U stretch goal, Vita stretch goal revealed


I'm interested in this
May 30
// Darren Nakamura
Though the Kickstarter page for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night still lists the current total at under $3 million, a recent backer update revealed that adding in non-Kickstarter PayPal funding brings it up to that mark. So ...
Terraria 1.3 photo
Terraria 1.3

Terraria 1.3 has mine carts and a release date: June 30


Terraria jumps the shark
May 28
// Darren Nakamura
Every time a new Terraria update trailer comes out, I find myself watching and rewatching it to try to pick out things that are new. The most obvious one in this 1.3 trailer is the mine cart. Now that it's here, it surprises...
Cat simulator photo
Cat simulator

Naughty cat sim Catlateral Damage now on Steam


Next, we need a cat cleanup simulator
May 27
// Jordan Devore
When we aren't talking video games, we're talking cats. Yesterday, it was servals. (Haha, those little heads!) Today, I'm hoping to steer the conversation from face-shredding wild African cats to the cats of the sea (otters)....

Donut County is a feel-good physics toy with flashes of Katamari Damacy

May 26 // Jordan Devore
Creator Ben Esposito describes his game as a "whimsical physics toy," and that's apt. A racoon chucks donuts from an airship and also rides a scooter, sometimes. Objects and animals topple when you trip them (and you will trip them). Puzzles feel organic, not forced. [embed]292754:58669:0[/embed] Early on, you'll discover that consuming fire and corn will cause popcorn to shoot back out of the hole (which you can then eat, obviously). Later, nabbing two rabbits results in lil babies spilling out of the pit. Another level involves interrupting an ant picnic with fireworks. The more I played, the more I didn't want to stop. The hungry hole is one of those mechanics that instantly makes sense but never seems to lose its energy or appeal. It just feels right. I wish I could've beaten the whole game in one sitting, right then and there, but this was only a preview. Donut County wont be ready for PC, Mac, and iOS until later this year. I'll be waiting. [embed]292754:58668:0[/embed]
Donut County photo
Unwinding: The Video Game
In Katamari Damacy, you roll up stuff. Small stuff, to start. Then cars, ships, buildings, mountains and, eventually, entire worlds. In Donut County, you slide an insatiable hole around to help it eat anything it can fit inside its maw. The more the hole consumes, the bigger it becomes. Where does it end up? How big can the hole grow? I'm not sure. But damn do I want to find out.

Game of Thrones screens photo
Game of Thrones screens

Game of Thrones: Sons of Winter screenshots, we have some


Painted with blood
May 26
// Darren Nakamura
Another episode of Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series, another batch of screenshots I took while playing through for review. There weren't any huge twists this episode, so I'm not afraid of spoiling too much, but as alwa...

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