Developer: Bloober Team
Release Date: January 12th 2018
Price as of Article: $9.99
Welcome to a dark and psychotic take on Bomberman, a follow-up game to Basement Crawl which was released on the PlayStation 4 in 2014 and was a total disaster due to lack of content and poor gameplay. The Bloober Team vowed to remake the game under a new name and now we have Brawl which is due for release Jan 12, 2018, on the Switch.
The Polish-based development team said themselves that Basement Crawl was met with poor reception and Brawl will be free of charge to anyone who purchased Basement Crawl on the PS4 as an apology although I doubt you can claim it on the Switch for free, let me know otherwise.
In Brawl, you take on the role of one of 8 characters each featuring their own unique abilities and stories. Each of the 8 individual characters features their very own campaign but these are very short.
The stories are played in a series of short comic style pictures where you’re told how these beings come to be who they are today. The Clown who’s become twisted as he’s unable to make people laugh. The puppet mistress used to be out partying and enjoying life before someone spiking her drink and then she becomes some kind of mannequin and a girl who’s totally blind and wants to see her family who died in a car crash. The game starts off in a place called The Emporium where you have to make your way through a couple of stages whilst a narrator taunts and pokes at you till you finally reach the final stage where you have to fight another character from the roster and then you get your end story.
The small stories are a nice touch to the game and the developers do deserve some credit for listening and adding these in but I can’t overlook that the game is advertised on the Nintendo website as having a “Rich Story” with surprising plot twists. A lot of us have seen the movies Saw and Hostel so these type of plot twists are not surprising anymore, they seem like they’ve been forced in to create a bit of shock value which it fails to do. However I really did enjoy the comic book style of drawings as they are designed very well and really suited the dark atmosphere, I particularly liked the clown but in reality, due to the lack of story, there’s no real connection to any of the characters you play. The games single player only serves as a tutorial and introduce you to each of the characters abilities.
Erik Braa who voice acted in Telltales Walking Dead games is the narrator in this game and I found the voice to be unsuited and pretty annoying, the constant echo in his voice serves no purpose and none of his scripts seems to flow into one another.You can consistently pick out the breaks in the voice recordings and let’s not talk too much about the cringe-worthy jokes. The narrator constantly taunts you in various ways which look to frustrate the player and believe me it succeeded.
Whilst playing I only heard a couple of soundtracks and they were pretty creepy and created an eerie atmosphere but as I did only hear 2 during the game I can’t judge too much but they suited the theme of the game well and created a slight bit of suspense at times.
The graphics style itself is decent for a party game as I don’t think the graphics have to be extreme. The only issue I had with the visuals was actually the darkness itself and although I understand this is meant to be a dark eerie game, it did make it difficult to concentrate on the game for extended periods of time. In my opinion, this style of game is much more suited to a bright background so you can clearly see what’s happening on the map but at the same time, it did add a little more to the chaos of the game.
I did experience a couple of FPS issues when several bombs were going off at once, one of which sent me rubber banding across the screen. It didn’t happen a huge amount but when it did it was a little frustrating.
The aim of the game it to kill the enemy players by strategically placing bombs around the map to blow up your foe. Collect upgrades that will give extra bombs, increase the range and speed you up until you’re the last survivor. Simple right? The game can get hugely chaotic and a lot of fun with a friend or 3.
There are several different game modes to play through such as versus where you battle 3 other players and the winner being the one with the most kills. There’s Sumo mode where you’re challenged to push your opponents off of the map which was my favourite as the maps slightly differ with trapdoors around the map so it made it that little bit more exciting.
There’s also Colour Domination where you use your bombs to colour the floor and the person who’s covered the floor with the most paint by the end wins, what game does this remind you of? Comment below.
There’s a couple of feature modes named Horde and Sheep mode both which require teamwork. In Horde mode, your faced with waves of monsters with increasing difficulty whilst trying not to blow yourself up and Sheep mode requires you and your teammate to defend sheep, who’d of thought it? Like Horde mode, your faced with waves of random enemies. I tried both of these modes with my Wife and these were one of the hardest parts of the game as our coordination was all over the place and I think my Wife was still trying to murder me rather than defend our flock.
I only got to try Brawl in 2 player mode as I lack enough real-life gamer friends to actually play a 4 player co-op but it was surprisingly fun, they’ve fixed some of their previous flaws from Basement Crawl and have added a highlight so you can actually see which tile you’re standing on and they’ve also stopped your character from clipping corners which is all great news.
Brawls single player gameplay is pretty dull. As mentioned previously it serves as a tutorial for you to learn each of the characters special abilities and although the stories were a nice touch and it was interesting to learn how each of the characters came to be, unfortunately, it’s just not enough. It’s way too repetitive and the AI seemed to lack intelligence at times and then when it came to the final battles, they were just frustrating as hell as the AI wasn’t intelligently placing bombs but would instantly move out of the proximity of mine so we’d literally be running around in circles for ages till I was able to spam enough bombs.
Online multiplayer doesn’t exist in the Switch version as far as I can see and there’s no mention of it on the Nintendo website. It’s 2018 and multiplayer was a feature on the PS4 version so why the hell is it not on the Switch, sure it may be a few more hoops to jump through but it’s so frustrating that so many games fail to utilise all of the Switch’s full capabilities.
I checked out a few of the PS4 videos of this game before playing myself and I’m glad to see they’ve changed the font from the story mode in the Switch version, it looked barely legible on the PS4 so it’s a nice improvement.
At $9.99 I’m in two minds if I can actually recommend this game. If you’re like me and the majority of the time your a solo gamer I would say not at all, with a busy schedule there’s not very often I’m able to get 4 adults(18+ game) to come around and when they do we rarely play games together and with no online it would be pretty pointless for me as the stories aren’t great.
That being said, if you’re someone who has games nights, friends around and chilling playing games then this could be a great pickup and play game. Chaotic fun with a different take on Bomberman with each character featuring their unique abilities.