Strange…It’s like he’s some kind of…super smash brother.
Two things neatly peppering the PAX East show floor at the moment are indie games with beautiful hand-drawn design, and quick pick-up multiplayer experiences. One of those is Brawlhalla, a free-to-play indie smash-like by indie developer Blue Mammoth Games. Accompanied by a trio of friends with whom I’ve been seasoned in Smash bros games real and modded, and we stepped in to what we feared might be little more than a well-illustrated clone.
So you pick up the PS4 controller, and choose one of a variety of colorful and original characters, from a PI who flips a coin that turns into a gauntlet to a gun-toting cybernetic warrior. You land in what definetley feels like a Smash stage, and get to punching and kicking in some pretty basic light-attack-heavy-attack directional combos.
Suddenly: WHOOM WHOOM WHOOM WHOOM! Four flaming swords hurl out of the sky and wedge into the battlefield. Run over to one, pick it up, and suddenly be blessed with one of your characters two possible unique weapon. It can be anything from a spear or some knives to a bazooka and giant hammer.
Over the course of two matches, I ascertained that the developers seem to have taken a look at the oft-switched off items system in the Smash games themselves, and put some thought into what could happen if those items were made a central part of the game. Weapons can be lost, thrown and stolen plenty of times over one fast-paced match.
Despite expectations, Brawlhalla is looking pretty promising as a free fighter with some interesting ideas. I found myself managing myself and my own movement differently, as if more anchored to the battlefield because I knew I had to keep an eye out for the spawning of more weapons. It is worth noting that as the game is free, only 8 characters are available with the base package. The rest can all be purchased and downloaded ala carte.
“Free to play fighting game” is a phrase that almost turned me away, but I’m glad I stayed. Brawlhalla launches later in 2017 on PS4, and is out now on Steam. The game is free on both platforms.