Close but no cigar.
- System: PC (Steam), PS4, Xbox One [Q3 2017]
- Publisher: Angry Mob Games
- Developer: Angry Mob Games
- Release Date: April 20, 2017
- Rating: E
- Genre: Platformer, Action, Brawler, Fighter
- Players: Single Player, Online/Local Multiplayer
- Official Website: http://www.brawlout.com/
Brawlout - Steam Early Access Launch Trailer
Who it Caters to
Anyone who’s played a platformer battle game before will most likely feel right at home with Brawlout, which takes inspiration from various titles such as Smash Bros, Street Fighter and even Mortal Kombat. The mechanics within the game feel very similar to that of Nintendo’s beloved franchise but with some added tweaks to make the game stand out on its own. Brawlout removes the defensive aspects such as being able to shield, to focus more on an aggressive approach to sealing the deal in battle. While this may turn off some players who favor the more defensive approach, we can certainly see why they’ve removed it as it creates a more in your face playstyle and requires you to be more critical of your decisions.
What to Expect
Most people who are reading this will most likely point in the direction of Smash Bros because at the moment, the game is garnering the most attention in the platformer battle scene on a competitive level. You have other big names such as Brawlhalla and Rivals of Aether that are also making waves in the competitive scene, and so Brawlout is trying to fit itself snuggly in between all of that to capture the audience they want. Unlike the aforementioned titles that primarily showcase 2D sprites battling for platform dominance, Brawlout instead takes the 3D route much like its Smash brethren and seeks to create a formula that is more visually appealing and robust in its features. Speaking of its features, Brawlout comes with quite an assortment, many of which fighting game fans will certainly be content to see within the game. You have quick play mode, ranked mode, Brawlout TV which allows you to spectate matches live, and tournament mode, among many others. We’ll go into more detail in the gameplay section but for now the question remains, is Brawlout worth the 20 dollars it's asking for? Let’s dive in to find out!
Right off the bat we can certainly say this, Brawlout certainly comes with its many perks but it trips over itself with its many pitfalls as well. Since the game is in early access much of the content is still being tweaked and repaired, along with the addition of more characters that are slated to release later in the year. The current build has six characters; King Apu, Sephi’ra, Chief Feathers, Paco, Olaf Tyson, and Volt. Volt, being the more recent addition to the cast, comes equipped with some electrifying moves that take inspiration from Blanka and also some Dhalsim. These aspects pertain to his up-special, that allow him to levitate in the air to avoid being attacked or to come back to the stage safely, while shocking the opponent if they try to hit him. The other five characters have their own distinctive approach in battle, all of whom also take some form of inspiration from other characters in other titles. King Apu for example is the more obvious of the bunch since a lot of his playstyle closely resembles that of Diddy Kong from the Smash series. He’s our favorite out of the whole bunch because despite sharing some similar moves, he comes with a whip that allows you to extend your combos pretty much anywhere on screen, whether it be in the air or on the ground. He’s quick, evasive and racks up a lot of damage when you’re able to land your combos successfully.
However, this is where Brawlout starts to feel a bit lackluster and may need a lot of fine tuning to get everything right. The combo system, while robust in its own way, still fails to appease us because it often feels dry and doesn’t seem to blend well with the entire cast. Characters such as Sephi’ra are very combo heavy and while she’s very powerful in that area, putting everything together just feels rigid at times and without a tutorial to guide you (mind you this is still in early access) it becomes this game of guessing what works in battle, and in a competitive environment pressing random buttons is the last thing you want to do. Of course the more players invest time into the game they'll overcome hurdles naturally, but for casual players who don't really have a grasp of that can find things to be harder overtime compared to experienced players. Unfortunately what happens now is that some characters often fall prey to the lack of ledge grabbing such as Olaf Tyson, who incorporates zoning and an in-your-face style, but doesn’t fare too well off stage. Yes he does have his ice pillar move to recover safely, but it’s his forward dash attack that can pose an even bigger threat since it runs you off the stage and puts you at a huge risk of dying. Fortunately, the developers let us know that ledge grabbing will see its return in an updated patch next week, so for now we'll have to adjust to the current climate.
We played with every character to get a feel for what each provided in strength and weakness, but it seems like every character shares the same weakness in that once you’re offstage, it’s essentially very hard to return safely and you place advantage back into the hands of your opponent if a mistake is made. You desperately try to stay on stage and not make a total buffoon of yourself by nosediving over the edge, but that often happens and it draws you away from the experience. Another plaguing issue is the online infrastructure which at the moment, allows players to choose their region but it seems like most players live in the US East side which completely defeats the purpose of having every other option. Again this is early access so of course this issue will be dealt with, but it doesn’t change the fact that we can’t even have a decent match because the peer-to-peer formula often ends up in very laggy battles that just builds even more resentment and makes you not want to play. When you do find an opponent with a good connection, which is extremely rare at the moment, the game is a total blast and you can truly see Brawlout shine in the way it should. Hopefully as more players show interest and the population grows, this issue will also be ironed out as well.
Sadly, with all of these issues pertaining to bugs, lack of online functionality, and a lacking character roster, paying 20 dollars for a title you could potentially play for free elsewhere is a bit steep. As much as we enjoyed playing at the times when things were smooth, it’s those crippling moments that totally overshadow those finer ones and make us want to take a step back and reflect. We commend the team for creating a Discord community and drawing everyone together, but even with that in mind we still didn’t come across many players online to play with. We would often sit in queue for 10 minutes or more before finally getting someone, only for that person to have a bad connection and our experience totally destroyed because of it. So then you wait again only to be queued with the exact same person you waited for 10 minutes prior, so there goes 20 minutes. Even at peak hours it can be a task to find someone with a decent enough connection to duke it out with. It’s a hard pill to swallow at times because Brawlout shows a lot of promise in many areas pertaining to its battle mechanics, robust features, and even an ESL signing which is huge, but it still needs a lot of work before we can really dabble more with it.
For now, Brawlout needs more than what it’s currently offering to stay afloat on a platform full of other strong opponents who do a better job of things. Much like its characters, Brawlout runs the risk of running offstage and putting itself in danger if it doesn’t fix the current issues as soon as possible. The console releases are slated to release later this year so we hope that by then, Brawlout will feel more fleshed out and ready to take on the competition without much worry. At the moment however, it seems like it was close but no cigar. Brawlout knows what it wants to be, but it’s conflicting issues often draw your attention away from all the perks it provides and makes you just want to play something else for the time being. Coming from a long competitive background in Street Fighter and Smash respectively, part of me really wants to put in the work and play but it’s those buggy moments and inconsistency that takes that drive away.
Firstly we’d like to thank Angry Mob Games for allowing us to partake in this early access, because to be quite honest, it’s a fun game. It just needs more time to bake in the oven before more players will be satisfied and willing to take a bite of what’s available. For now we’re sort of the guinea pigs and while that kind of sounds bad, it’s good so that the team behind it all can make the right adjustments to make this game attractive to a wider audience. Perhaps if the price tag was dropped to about 10 dollars then perhaps more people would show interest and even overlook the setbacks that currently plague the game. We’re not sure if the team is willing to do that, but it would certainly make the pain feel less excruciating in the long run. For more reviews from us be sure to check out our gaming section, and check out us out live on Twitch at Honey’s Gaming for all the gaming fun!
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