This title was reviewed on Nintendo Switch, but is also available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
There is something so special about playing tabletop games. Some of my greatest memories are playing tabletop games as a family or with friends. Bringing everyone together to have a friendly rivalry is unmatched by anything else. Even video games haven’t given me quite the same intense completion. But there are a lot of things that video games achieve and add onto the tabletop formula that playing in real life suffers from. I love when classic or new tabletop games get ported to consoles and or PC because when done properly it gives a whole new spin on the game. One of my least favourite things about playing tabletop games in real life is the huge commitment most of them take. I remember games of RISK that would go on for days but with the support from videogames it takes out a lot of tiresome maths that drags the games along meaning you can speed through games. Whilst the math is fun, it is nice having that assistance and this creates a completely different play style when playing a tabletop game on a console.
This is what I found with Super Dungeon Tactics, a video game adaption of the much beloved, relatively new, table top game Super Dungeon Explore. Being one who hasn’t played the classic tabletop version, I had to research about it for this review and came to the conclusion that though these two games are relatively similar they each have their unique factors that make either one desirable. Super Dungeon Tactics takes the classic lore and play style from Super Dungeon Explore and mixes it with new elements to create a surprisingly well rounded game that stands as its own unique title. The best thing about this is that when you play Super Dungeon Tactics you really find yourself playing a tabletop game but just with more interactive visuals and gameplay elements that in my opinion heighten the enjoyment you would find. So let’s break down all the reasons I enjoyed Super Dungeon Tactics so much, and trust me there is a lot to like.
As I mentioned earlier, Super Dungeon Tactics is a tabletop game but it also shares elements with Adventure and RolePlaying games. The story follows a small party of two adventures, A fiery witch and a brawly dwarf as they stumble upon a mysterious village. You protect the village from evil creatures and decide to help defend it while also finding out the secrets of this unknown village. As you adventure out completing quests you bump into other charismatic characters who decide to join your guild. This quickly expands your playable roster of characters from just 2 to a final whopping 15. The story of Super Dungeon Tactics is simple at best and is mainly used as a vehicle for your characters to explore and meet others. Though the depth of the game isn’t found through its story but rather from the characters and their interaction in the party. So even though I knew the story was shallow I never really minded because I was so intrigued by all the different party members I was accumulating.
That’s one thing that Super Dungeon Tactics has going for it in spades. Character. Every single playable character has so much personality to them. Whether it be through their design, their dialogue, or even how it’s reflected in their move set! Every one plays out in such a different way that you can pick and choose favourites. Personally, I’m drawn towards the edgy crossbowman who doesn’t say much but when he does it packs a punch, just like his attacks. It also helps that nearly every character is yours to name meaning that you feel attached to them like a proud video game parent.
However, Super Dungeon Tactics doesn’t fall into the pitfalls that other RPG’s suffer from. That is, over leveling your favourite few characters while the rest fall to the wayside. They manage to avoid this and keep every character viable at all times by levelling up through equipment that you find while questing. This means you could ignore a character like the imp all game but pick up a sick dagger that would work perfectly with her so all you need to do is slap it on her along with higher leveled armour and she’s as good as that crossbowman you’ve been using exclusively. This works well because it means you play your main because they match your playstyle, not just because they are the highest level, or because leveling others would be to much of a grind.
On the subject of grinding, equipment comes in large quantities so you don’t really need to grind too much. Though there are specific side quests just for getting a lot of booty if you do want better gear, so the option is there if you need it. Another option is to wack the difficulty up and though your armour, health regen and damage will be lower you will be rewarded with higher drop rates for rare equipment. Risk vs reward, done right.
Okay, okay, okay. So I love the characters and I love the progression system but does any of this matter if the game is downright boring? Well 20% of the game is dialogue and picking quests, while the other 80% is filled with tactical turn based battles in mini dungeons, and its safe to say these are anything but boring. The combat in this game really highlights how this is a tabletop game and I love it because it gives a unique feel that not many games capture. The turn based combat is split up into different sections. Firstly you roll a unique die for each character you have. Different maps have different required party sizes so you could have from 3 to 9 dice rolled. These die don’t have numbers on them but rather stat boosts, so some dice could be rolling for health boosts, damage boost or movement boosts. The only problem is that your opponent rolls at the same time as you meaning you have a choice of their stat boosts, but they have a choice of yours also. I love this as it really gives that tabletop feeling to the game whilst also giving strategy as you prioritise die you find valuable that you don’t want the enemy stealing.3
The second section of the combat is the turn based action section where you move your different characters around a grid like map to position them close enough to attack enemies. Turns consist of a roll and then a move and also an attack and repeat. Who you move is totally up to you. Unlike old turnbased RPGs, speed doesn’t determine which troop of yours goes first. If they haven’t moved that turn then they are free to go. This gives you a constant struggle between which choice to make as you will only get to move a few characters before the enemy moves some of theirs. My strategy usually consisted of moving my tankier characters out so that when it was the enemies turn they’d sponge all the damage with their armour and consequently be set up for my aoe mages turn. As you go through the dungeon clearing enemies, you eventually clear the mission of the map, be it, clear the spawners, kill all enemies or kill the boss. Afterwards you proceed to yet another dungeon where your characters aren’t fully healed meaning you have a while to survive before you’re anywhere near finishing this quest. The look of each dungeon switches up which keeps it interesting and sometimes your party has to be split if the “cavern was too small for everyone” meaning you had to make serious life decisions about who you wanted to keep around. I loved these mini dungeons and didn’t mind revisiting some of them as they usually changed up the look on subsequent playthroughs.
Super Dungeon Tactics has a few problems, mainly the amount of dialogue you get thrown at you. Sometimes it can feel like you’re reading a novel as every character seems to want a spot in the limelight with their 5 cents. The lack of voice acting makes this especially apparent and though I read all the text at the start, near the end my focus was drifting and I began to skip a heck of a lot more of the text.
You will need to focus on this game though, as it’s nothing to crack out in a few sittings. It easily gives you your moneys worth in game time and you’ll be finding new equipment and characters till the very last moments. I just wish the story was a little bit stronger to keep you engaged and slugging along the game length.
I can, with out a doubt recommend Super Dungeon Tactics as a game to pick up. For its price you’d be pushed to find anything close to it with the same kind of quality. I am happy I got the chance to review this game because I will definitely be revisiting it in the future. Lets just say I was happily surprised by this one.