Dungeonbowl Review (PC)
Dungeonbowl is the latest game from French developer Cyanide based on the popular Gamesworkshop Bloodbowl series of board games. In this game, fantasy races of Elves, Dwarves, Humans, Orks, Skaven etc form teams and play a more violent version of American Football where the goal is not only to score a touchdown, but to take out as many of the opposition as possible. Cyanide have already had success with the first digital adaptation of the boardgame, and now they have turned their hand to adapting Dungeonbowl for the PC.
The basic difference between Dungeonbowl and regular Bloodbowl is that instead of the match being played on an open field, the teams now face each other in the confines of a trap filled dungeon. This has the effect of making the already brutal game of Blood Bowl even more violent and deadly.
Dungeon Bowl is a multiplayer only game with no single player elements at all. Instead you can play by hot-swapping on one machine, LAN or over the internet. Before you get into online play, instead of picking one of the major Warhammer races to be your team, you select a College of Magic. The only difference between these Colleges of Magic is what races make up your team, so for example if you select Bright College your team can consist of Humans, Dwarves and Norse. Once you have selected your College you can then start naming your team and selecting the players from those available to your College of choice and buying equipment, such as extra re-rolls.
Now that you have created your team it is time to have a match. There are a few options here. You can challenge any player to a match or you can use the matchmaking facility which will attempt to get you a match with a player who is close to your level of experience. Once into the game, the gameplay is very similar to regular Bloodbowl. If you are attacking then the goal is to get the ball into the opponent’s end-zone by moving each player one at a time and the only restriction is that you can only move a certain amount. If you are on defence the goal for you is to steal the ball back and become the attacker. In both offence and defence players can block their opposite number if they are adjacent to them. This brings up a small window which shows off some dice roll. Depending on the result of this role then your player could be knocked back or down, or your opponent suffers that fate. Once per turn you can also use one of your players to blitz an opponent. This is a combined move and block in one.
The major difference in the gameplay over regular Bloodbowl is that there is no kick-off. Instead the teams have to search the various chests dotted about the dungeon to find the ball. In most cases these chest will explode and knock down the player, with only one of the chests containing the ball. The other big difference is that instead of playing two halves of a set period of time, you usually play Dungeonbowl until some scores the first touchdown. This means that games of Dungeonbowl are often quicker than the normal online matches of Bloodbowl. The other differences include teleporters which can be used to transport your player across the map to another random teleporters location. There can also be mishaps where the player will be transported out of the game.
The biggest feature of Dugeonbowl is that it includes an editor which allows you to quickly create your own dungeon. The interface of the editor gives you a palette of different floors, walls and items that can be used together to make your very own arena. Once you have created this dungeon you can then share it with the rest of the community and you can then have matches on that pitch. The editor itself is very intuitive and within minutes I had created my first dungeon.
I would suggest that you only buy this if you are a Bloodbowl completest. While the online matches can be over quickly compared to the full priced Bloodbowl, the randomness of searching the chest for the ball and also of the telporters can be frustrating. Also some of more enclosed dungeons make a passing game very difficult to play so running teams tend to be best in Dungeonbowl. The editor in my opinion is this games saving grace. With a very simple set of blocks you can very quickly create some interesting and complex dungeons for your teams to play on. Also, to me Dungeonbowl would be better released as DLC for the main Bloodbowl game rather than separate product. This might have made it more attractive for those existing Bloodbowl players.
Dungeon Bowl is available now on Steam for PC for £9.99.
5 exploding chest out of 10