Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Super Dungeon Tactics is the PC adaptation of the utterly fantastic Super Dungeon Explore board game and boy is it a faithful port. Set in Crystalia, a rich and vibrant fantasy world, it is up to your hand-picked guild of heroes to battle the forces of the Dark Consul, who works to envelop the world in darkness. A quirky and lovable art-style and enjoyable lore, Super Dungeon Tactic’s turn-based tactical RPG goodness is a must have for fans of both the video game genre and those lovers of board games.
I will get this out of the way right quick as it has come up in many different conversations and in various threads online; many people seem to like to point out that Super Dungeon Tactics looks more like a mobile game than a PC game. It is often said with a bit of derision which is unfair to both the mobile platform and Super Dungeon Tactics. Mobile devices as a gaming platform are here to stay and their are many excellent titles available on it, seeing the platform as anything less than that is a disservice to games, developers, and gamers. Super Dungeon Tactics (and its source material, Super Dungeon Explore) uses a colorful and vibrant color palette with the adorable and excellent “chibi” art-style; being chibi, colorful, or having an art direction that is not specifically focused on hyper-photorealism does not mean the game is immediately “meant for mobile.”
(Side note here, I would actually love to be able to play Super Dungeon Tactics on my iPad as it is MUCH easier than hauling around my 15 pound board game)
That said, Tactics is a faithful adaptation of Super Dungeon Explore and is an excellent little turn-based tactical RPG with a healthy dosage of comedy. I have seen numerous comparisons of Super Dungeon Tactics to genre juggernauts such as Disgaea or the creme de le creme of them all, Final Fantasy Tactics and that is a shame, as Super Dungeon Tactics, while a turn-based RPG, is in no way a competitor to either of those titles (though I can see some loose, straw-man parallels to Disgaea on the comedy side). Tactics is a deep and enthralling Shakespeare-esque fantasy title that is dark and brooding and explores the darker side of politics, war and religion. Disgaea is a turn-based romp with numerous adult themes disguised with cute characters. Super Dungeon Tactics is a light-hearted turn-based adventure through a bright and colorful world. I would go as far as saying the primary comparables lie in the fact that they are turn-based strategy RPGs and that is where the similarities end.
For as fun as it is building your guild and outfitting your characters with the oodles of loot that you will find, it does have a few warts to it, namely in the interface. It is fairly simple and uninformative, though I have it from the developers that an upcoming patch will help some of the UI issues. (UPDATE, see below for more information on the upcoming patch). But even with the minor warts, Super Dungeon Tactics is a fun, light-hearted adventure through Crystalia.
One of the most impressive aspects of the game is how it presents as a simple grid-based tactical game, but as you play it, level up via loot, and get into the various combat mechanics (such as the dice that you can use to immediately buff your characters at the start of a round), you will find that it has deep and engaging gameplay. For instance, aggro management; I do not recall many other tactical RPG games having any real aggro management, most are random and with enemy combatants attacking any number of player characters. There are neat little scenarios and objectives that happen in each scene, rather than the atypical “kill all the things” like in the prologue where one of the early missions has you using your characters to not only fight off kobolds, but also putting out fires; the catch? You need to refill your bucket of water every few turns so you have a number of objectives that you need to balance, all while managing aggro so your glass cannon (Mage) does not get smoked by an errant kobold or two. It really is engaging.
Super Dungeon Tactics immediately had me itching to run through another game or two of Super Dungeon Explore, which to me is the ultimate love letter to the source material. Though it has a few rough edges, Tactics is more than enjoyable, easy enough that new gamers can pick up the game and roll with it while more experienced players will find plenty of depth to keep them occupied. More camera controls and a port to mobile would be more than welcome to fans of the world of Crystalia, but until those wishes are granted, sate yourself on the incredibly enjoyable Super Dungeon Tactics.Score: 8 / 10
UPDATE – From our Press contacts for Super Dungeon Tactics, Underbite Games reports that an upcoming patch will include WASD camera controls, Formation Options, improved UI elements, and a streamlined click menu, so stay tuned for that update!