Dungeon Deathball — Intergalactic gladiatorial dodgeball

In Dungeon Deathball’s grim future, human prisoners must fight for their freedom against brutal aliens in a gladiatorial twist on dodgeball.

Dungeon Deathball is a tough tactical title featuring a cute visual style which belies its depth. It’s permadeath all the way down, with each match, in its compact arena, possibly spelling death for your little human teammates. The concept may seem simple, but the game definitely isn’t, and that results in a tight but rewarding gameplay loop.

I don’t know if there’s much to be said about the human characters: they level up; they’re quite squishy and expendable; they can gain special skills. It’s really the gruesome Mad Lads, in their various forms, who are the heart of the game. There’s a deliberately designed amount of routine in their actions, and even then there are map-indicators galore showing where they intend to move. That doesn’t make them any less fearsome, especially if you are trying to finish each match to your best ability.

Because a true victory comes in getting both the ball and a teammate to the end of the arena.

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There are multiple types of enemies, each with their own attack patterns. Over on the creator Matt Glanville’s developer roadmap, there are already another four in the works, among an extensive planned-features list.

I was lucky enough to play through some of Dungeon Deathball earlier in the year when it was entered into the Gamescom Pocket Gamer Big Indie Pitch as a mobile entry. The game does indeed seem perfect for Switch; it is compact and matches only take a short amount of time — even if they can be particularly brutal. It took me a few turns to realise the chaos that can manifest if you push enemies into the way of their teammate’s attacks but that, plus future enemy variants, definitely makes it a game that will be interesting to watch develop.

Dungeon Deathball is currently in Steam Early Access, where it is available for Windows PC.

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