Video Game Investigations: BRAWLHALLA

For most of this month I plan on talking about the games that I tried out a MomoCON 2015. I was going to save this one for last, but I’m too excited about it.  Brawlhalla is a multiplayer brawler developed by Blue Mammoth Games.  The simplest description would be to compare it to Super Smash Brothers, but only the most basic mechanics really cross over.  I had an absolute blast playing this game at the convention and wanted to take a closer look at it.  Let’s start with the trailer, just for a starting framework.

Cursory Investigation:  The Basics

The graphics are simple but solid.  I found the character designs to be vaguely reminiscent of the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World beat’em up that used to be on the Playstation Network, but with a much wider range.  Each character has similar basic mechanics, but when they grab one of the weapon pick-ups in the game it turns into a unique weapon gives them a unique style.

Four champions getting ready for a brawl.

Four champions getting ready for a brawl.

The mechanics are very smooth and solid, although they take a little getting used to.  You have buttons for light attack, heavy attack, block and throw.  The arrow keys (or d-pad if you use a controller) move and the up button jumps, but the movement buttons also control what type of attack you use.  This creates a wide range of attack options which take a while to master and makes the game more exciting.

The game also has local multiplayer support, which is huge to a guy who still prefers to play games with people who are in the same room.

The music is solid, but seems to get drowned out by the sound effects and the announcer.  As usual, my capability to critique music really boils down to “Is it good or bad?”  The sounds are solid and nothing quite drives home the need to seal a clutch victory like the announcers countdown.

Deep Inspection: The Little Details

This part is difficult for me.  While I love more traditional fighting games like Street Fighter and King of Fighters, I’ve never been much for these types of brawlers because they tend to involve a hodgepodge of different characters that I may care about individually but whom I have no interest in seeing fight.  While that makes it difficult to talk too much about the games mechanics and balance, it does give me a starting point because I actually like the lore of Brawlhalla.

So, the plot/lore/excuse for all the fightin’ is basically that there’s some kind of tournament going on in Valhalla.  Each character seems to be their timeframe/universe’s equivalent Bill Brasky: larger than life and with a list of accomplishments that sound absolutely ridiculous.  One of the characters, Thatch the Pirate, has a profile that looks like a page from a “Chuck Norris Facts” website.  The fact that the characters were fun to read about and were made to interact with each other made it much more easily to become invested than I have ever been in other smash-style games.

As for the mechanical details, I am able to say this much: the game seems pretty balanced.  Like with most fighting games, I’m sure that with enough play someone will find a combination or character that’s broken on some level, but I haven’t found it yet.  The mechanics are smooth, and everything works.  I played this game a lot at the con and have played it a bit since, and I can’t recall a moment of the game NOT doing what I told it to.

Though in the midst of the chaos, you can't tell if Lucien is getting thrown, or if he's backflipping.

Though in the midst of the chaos, you can’t tell if Lucien is getting thrown, or if he’s backflipping.

The online play was also smooth, and I didn’t get the lag that I usually expect from a beta.  Unfortunately, online play is like camera angles in a game: there’s only a lot to say about it when it’s bad.  So, I don’t have much else to say about that.

Conclusions

I loved this game.  It’s got a cool style, a solid control scheme and most importantly it’s fun.  Like, a lot of fun.  Enough fun that I kept going back to play it at the convention.  The gameplay is smooth and has a lot of variety.  The characters have cool aesthetic designs that are familiar enough to be recognizable without being too generic, and that’s without the skins.  The game is in closed beta right now, but you can buy the founder’s pack on Steam.  You can also sign up for the closed beta here and get more information on the company here.

Grade:  A (A+ when adjusted for beta)

Recommendations

I would like to see something resembling a single-player story mode, but the game is clearly designed for online play so I expect to be in a minority there.  I hope to see this game succeed and expand in the future.

ALSO

The people at Blue Mammoth Games have provided me with extra beta keys for BRAWLHALLA to give away as a promotion.  So how am I going to decide who to give these away to?  Well, I’m not sure.  For now, I’m picking three of my followers on social media every week at random to receive a Beta Key for the next three weeks.

Yes, you can follow me across multiple platforms to increase your chances of winning and to hasten the drawings.  This is a feature, not a bug.  Each follower will be in every drawing, even ones that they were already in, but you can only win once.

The accounts to follow are:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thegamedetective
Tumblr:  http://thegamedetective.tumblr.com/
Twitter: @ADetectiveGamer
Youtube: The Game Detective (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF0P6P48dO5ZsQMFXAzgrXQ)
WordPress:  Well, that’s where we are now.

ALSO

This is my fiftieth post!  Yay longevity!

If you enjoyed this article, follow the Game Detective on TwitterTumblr, or  Facebook.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: