Dungeon Punks tries to be a throwback to classic arcade brawlers like Golden Axe and Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom. However, its mind-numbingly repetitive combat means it falls well short of its ambitions.
In Dungeon Punks, you can choose to take control of one of six heroes on their quest to defeat RezCorp, a secretive insurance agency that charges a premium to resurrect anyone who falls on the field of battle. Two of your companions fight alongside you at all times, either controlled by friends via local multiplayer or by the AI. You can also tag-team alternate characters into the mix with the press of a button.
Dungeon Punks' heroes all look very distinctive, but there isn't much of a difference in how they play. Each one has the same basic attack combo (press X three times). You'll have to do this over and over to gain mana which can be used to pull off a handful of unique spell moves for extra damage. These spells add some much-needed variety to the combat, but they're not enough to stop it from feeling like a never-ending slog-a-thon.
It wouldn't be as bad if Dungeon Punks didn't make you do as much fighting as it does. Almost every screen is occupied with a horde of cookie-cutter enemies that must be dispatched before you're allowed to move on to the next one. When your party's health is low, you'll have little option but to extract via one of the exits placed in each dungeon - but when you return, you're forced to start from the first screen again and all of the enemies are back. Even if you backtrack through screens that you've already cleared, there's nearly always a new swarm of monsters to hack down before you can pass. With such a monotonous combat system, getting anywhere in Dungeon Punks quickly begins to feel like a chore.
The bland nature of the combat means that it's no more exciting if you're playing with a friend or two, although it does make things a little easier than having the AI alongside you. NPC teammates die relatively easily and have an annoying habit of stealing an item that you want from under your nose and using it immediately, usually wasting it. There's no online multiplayer so if you want to lessen the tedium at all, you're going to have to rope your friends or family into the ordeal. Though if you love them, you probably shouldn't.
Dungeon Punks also has a competitive PvP "joust" mode that unlocks after beating a level. It tries to spice things up by throwing an AI boss and its minions into the mix, but it still fails to capture any sense of excitement and ultimately feels like a tacked-on feature.
If Dungeon Punks succeeds anywhere, it's in its colourful cartoon world and characters. Despite looking like paper cut-outs, each hero has their own unique style and every stage its own vivid aesthetic. That being said, its frequent attempts at self-aware humor are likely to cause you more eye-rolls than laughs.
Dungeon Punks can be tolerable in short bursts, but an extended play session could temporarily damage your will to live... and permanently damage your X button.
- + Colourful world and characters
- + A few local players can play simultaneously
- - Mind-numbing combat makes levels a slog
- - Having to start each stage all over again after extracting makes it incredibly repetitive
- - Eye-roll-inducing attempts at humour