Sunday, 15 January 2017 00:00

Super Death Arena Review

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Fight in arenas. Survive waves of mutants. Face increasing degrees of difficulty. Acquire better weapons. Enough said? Well, maybe not.

Fun Game. Too Little Content.

Developed by Rigid-Soft, Super Death Arena features online and cooperative gameplay, along with in-game purchases and three levels to pick and play. To get started, you can dive right in by selecting Quick Play, which randomly pairs you with other players. Or, you may join up with friends and strangers alike via the list of available servers. Sadly, with the latter mode, I never witnessed one that was ever full, and that’s a common issue that all too often plagues indie online multiplayers.

Super Death Arena's objective is straightforward: as a 5-player team, you encounter waves of mutants eager to get you. Taking them out is easy at first. Overtime the difficulty increases, albeit moderately. For your firepower, you start off with melee gear, a skillet or a small blade for example. Defend yourself during the first wave, win, and proceed to access shotguns, rifles, and sledgehammers. Interestingly enough, however, is the fact that you’ll never pick what you get. Then are the power-ups. These spawn seemingly at random after completing a wave, and they’ll provide health regeneration, stamina or speed boosts, explosive ammunition, and so on. Important to note is that only one player per team will be able to grab the item after each wave.

In terms of graphics, Super Death Area does not disappoint.

Its visuals emphasize blood and gore, but does so without getting in the way of gameplay and scenery. A smart decision there, because there's a welcoming amount of detail and variety to each of the maps. The Chinese gardens, the Rodeo, and the Industrial Warehouse aren't just skins slapped on top of a single design – each offers unique characteristics, even if the arenas themselves are confined in terms of space. From the building that flank the rodeo walls of the Old West, to the blossoming trees in the Chinese gardens, it's the attention to details that makes them fun to play. 

Leveling Up, and In-App Purchases

Micro transactions and item malls are always a tough sell, even if they might support starving indie devs, and Super Death Arena’s offering of "In-App Purchases" will surely raise eyebrows and inflame pundits among the often unforgiving Steam community. Fortunately, it seems that the only items for sale here aren't the products of a Pay to Win model, but bonus loot crates for cosmetic upgrades – items you also gain every time you level up. And since the leveling pace uses the standard sliding scale, it's easy to get those goodies in a hurry at lower levels.

Beyond acquiring these cosmetic bonuses, there aren't many rewards for your character's progression. I couldn't tell any difference in my weapon choices, power-up spawns, or performance based on levels alone, though it’s nice that headshots and such contribute to a higher final score and experience gain. Still, the system seems almost unnecessary; it feels like a tricky way to incentivize players to make these In-App purchases, once addicted to loot crates.


The Verdict

Super Death Arena does a good job at delivering the gameplay which makes the genre great: death arenas, hordes of opponents, fancy weapons, and lots of bloodshed. Unfortunately, it’s also much too thin in terms of content. That’s an encouraging thought for the developers, I suppose, as its mediocrity isn’t caused by a lack of quality but quantity instead. If anything, grab this one when on sale. A big sale. That is, if there’s anyone left to play.

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Lori May

Lori is an avid video game enthusiast who enjoys blending her love of gaming with her work as a writer. She first cut her teeth back on the NES and Sega Genesis systems, and continues to be a Retro-gaming advocate with a soft spot for Point-&-Click Adventures. She's also a Survival Horror and Psychological Horror game collector, when she isn't coercing friends into any number of Co-Op multiplayer titles. If she isn't gaming you can find her working as a journalist and social media consultant, or perhaps dabbling in video game design among other hobby-with-big-dreams endeavors. Born in the heart of the Midwest, she's currently living in Colorado, where she prefers to avoid skiing, snowboarding, and other Mile High City attractions.


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