Let’s pretend for a second that you don’t game on a Nintendo system, but you have heard about or even seen Super Smash Bros. The game looks fun, but you don’t know half of the “iconic” characters. You love fighting games and might want to play, but not so much that you want to buy a new system for one game. As luck would have it, there is a new brawler style game on the horizon that will solve this digital dilemma. Since you’re likely reading this on a computer, you’ve already got the right system.

Brawlhalla is the subject of this week’s Indie Game Review, and it is primed to take up the attention of figher/brawler fans out there. Brawlhalla is being developed and published by Blue Mammoth games. Currently it’s in beta/early access on Steam and it already looks great and plays well.

Brawlhalla

Brawlhalla is 2D with side view with a camera that pans and zooms with the player’s movement. The characters are cartoonish and flat, but do have a wide variety of skill balances and weapon availability.  Speaking of variety, the character list is ever expanding. Like a MOBA, Brawlhalla is free to play, and will keep adding characters (with skins) as part of is monetization strategy.

The controls in this game are pretty simple. Move, up for jump, light attack, heavy attack, dodge, and throw. Controllers work best for this game, but I played my first online match with a keyboard and was able to get a win. You don’t have to buy anything if you don’t want to then. The controls are simple enough that the game is easy to pick up. The devil/fun comes with reaction time and planning your attacks.

Brawlhalla002

The core game play in this game is already well honed, and the levels have a great amount of variety. What I really like is that Brawlhalla has a single player mode, multiplayer local mode “couch mode”, and an online modes (ranked and random). The local and and online multiplayer modes might seem like no brainers to include, but the development team is small and sometimes functionality has to be cut. It didn’t though, and both modes go smoothly. A random game only took me a few seconds to connect, and played like with no lag. I tried local multiplayer at a conference where I originally met up with Blue Mammoth, and that was a blast as well. Having 3 people next to you to fight against was really fun. The single player mode is a tournament mode set up in a 3 tier bracket. I was hoping for something longer, or with a story. The mode was slightly disappointing, but the game still is in beta. So there’s still time 😉

Outside of battles you level up via xp earned in battles. So far I see that levels grant you character outfit color unlocks and in-game currency to unlock new characters. New characters definitely have unique looks and appear to be balanced in a wide enough variety of ways to remain interesting. Characters also have alternate outfits, weapons, and “side kicks” that are only available via a separate monetized currency. The separation seems standard in the current free-to-play market. Every character is available, but the cool looking stuff you have to pay for, which, considering how much games cost to make, it’s a pretty good deal.

If you have Steam and an itch to play a fun brawler, this just might be your lucky day!

Sean Weiland

Sean Weiland

Sean is game designer with a sorted past. Ask him where he's lived and he will give you more than 12 answers. Ask him what he does for a living and he might say "game designer" or he might say "I dance".Ask him about indie games and he will give you a dam honest opinion informed by over a decade of audio, design, and development experience.
Sean Weiland