Hands-on Preview: Brawlout
Some games are so unique and influential, they not only become known as instant classics but also spawn their own genre or sub-genre within the video game industry. Dark Souls created a new sub-genre within role-playing games that many simply refer to as Souls games, with titles such as Lords of the Fallen and Ni-oh following in its footsteps.
It’s strange then, that despite numerous attempts, no one has delivered a Smash Bros-style game that has had even a modicum of the original’s success. Games such as PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up had a decent attempt but ultimately feel flat, leaving the Super Smash Bros series alone in the niche that it carved for itself. ‘Brawlout‘ from Angry Mob Games recently released into Early Access on Steam, and while it is unashamedly a Smash Bros clone, it looks as though it might be just the one to fill that same niche on PC.
Brawlout is currently in a very early build of the game, meaning that very little is known about the game world or its narrative. The single-player story mode isn’t present in the game, though what has been shared about the mode’s narrative certainly sounds interesting. There are a number of different species of anthropomorphic animals in Brawlout, with each species nominating one of their own to be an “Exemplar”, a warrior who competes in hand-to-hand combat against other Exemplars. Again, details are scarce at this point, though if Brawlout is able to deliver a decent story, it will have a significant advantage over Smash Bros and similar games, as they all rely on the popularity of previously established characters.
If you’ve played Super Smash Bros or similar games you’ll know what to expect from Brawlout, though if you haven’t played one the concept is extremely simple to come to terms with. Up to four players brawl it out on a number of elevated platforms, with the winner being the last player still standing on a platform. The more damage a player receives, the greater the distance they fly off the platform when struck. Each player has their own damage meter which they want to keep as low as possible, as opposed to a more traditional fighting game where players have a finite amount of health.
Each character has a number of moves and special abilities that they can use, such as throwing projectiles, launching enemies in the air, swooping down on them from above or throwing them off of platforms. These moves can sometimes be used to save yourself from falling off the screen, dodging attacks and more.The key to victory lies in mastering your character’s abilities, knowing which move is useful against groups of opponents and single opponents, as well as offensively and defensively.
Brawlout‘s art style is impressively vibrant and unique, with each character complimenting each other as well as the game’s environments. Everything comes together cohesively and not one element stands out as weaker than another. At present, there are six playable characters, with another three to be released. Each has their own backstory which can be accessed via the game’s main menu, with some having some fairly interesting reasons as to why their fighting.
Levels are pretty standard platform fighting game fare, with each one being built having a different theme based on its environment. As it stands, they don’t particularly influence the outcome of a fight – they simply provide platforms for players to stand on and fall off of. They’re also particularly bland at this point, so here’s hoping that they have more dynamic designs upon the game’s full release.
While it is an obvious Smash Bros clone, Brawlout doesn’t have power ups or assist trophies, meaning that each fight is fought and won solely with your characters standard and special attacks. While this is a more pure fighting experience, it does in fact leave a little to be desired in terms of the gameplay.
Ultimately, Brawlout is shaping up to be a must-have game for PC fans of platform fighters. It looks great, runs extremely smoothly and has a distinct and gorgeous art style. At present, it may be a little barebones but it still offers a great night in with friends on the couch or online.