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Dungeon Punks review for PS Vita, PS4, Xbox One

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Hyper Awesome Entertainment
Developer: Hyper Awesome Entertainment
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-3
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

From a pure gameplay perspective, Dungeon Punks is utterly unremarkable. It's a 2D, side-scrolling brawler, and it offers precisely as much as you'd expect from a game in that genre. It's perfectly competent at doing what it does, but if you've ever played any beat-'em-up before, you'll know exactly what to expect here.

It's a little surprising, then, that for all of Dungeon Punks' aggressive mediocrity in the gameplay department, it's got surprisingly fun writing. It plays around with tropes, pokes fun at itself and its genre, and is generally much more engaging than it has any right to be.

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Of course, this also serves to highlight just how generic Dungeon Punks is. It's like, yes, it's funny that you get in trouble for smashing vases and barrels — smashing items to get loot may be one of the cornerstones of gaming in general, after all — but at the same time, the game still demands that you smash vases and barrels to get essential items. Much like most other games that try to mock tropes while still relying on them, Dungeon Punks tries having it both ways, and it simply doesn't work.

It also isn't helped by the fact that it doesn't control particularly well. The characters all move awkwardly, lurching about the screen in the least smooth way imaginable regardless of whether you're using the left thumbstick or the D-pad. Likewise, the game takes an annoyingly literal approach to 2D hacking and slashing, requiring that all enemies be pretty much directly in front of you if you want to hit them.

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Are these game-breaking issues? Definitely not — if they were, this game would be straight up bad, rather than aggressively mediocre. But they also mean that unless you absolutely, desperately must have a beat-’em-up on your preferred console, there isn't much reason to pick up Dungeon Punks.

Grade: C