Overview - Broforce Review
+ A terrific homage to the action heroes/actors of the 1980s and 90s
+ Wonderful character design and pixel art
- Chaotic fighting, frequent explosions causing many frustrating deaths
- Character balance among a roster of 36
Release Date: March 1st, 2016
Developer/Publisher: Free Lives/Developer Digital
Broforce is a straight forward, side-scrolling action game built off of the mindless action movie tropes of the 80s and 90s. It's not exactly clever and the chaotic action sometimes ruins the experience but Broforce is a fun throwback to a simpler time.
Story - Broforce Review
There is no real story to Broforce, just a commander sending you out to a new area with the intention of blowing everything up and defeating the bad guys. And as an homage to 80s and 90s action films, this is highly appropriate. The irony is that the gameplay resembles that of the 16-bit era shooters, another homage that Broforce presents, but ironically most of those games had rather convoluted plots. There was a missed opportunity here to have more of a Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon-style story, combining all the plot clichés of the genre but sadly the character traits and appearances are all we get. The best part of the homage is the character designs and the "bro" pun-based character names. Several of the best are; Brobocop, Bronan the Brobarian and Rambro. There are several not-so-clever names as well, but clever or not, the nostalgia of each brings a extra layer to the game. While that layer isn't the same as an actual story element, it does add some historical resonance.
Technical - Broforce Review
Broforce's art style is fantastic. Extremely detailed and colorful pixel art differentiate each character allowing for instant, nostalgic recognition. This is important from a gameplay perspective too, ensuring a smoother transition between character play styles.
The graphics are detailed enough that each onscreen character, user-controlled or otherwise has a personality. In many instances enemies express an "oh crap" before death, not any easy feat in the pixelated art.
While the graphics are obviously influenced by the 16-bit era, they are of much better quality, unlike say, Shovel Knight (purposely), but they do a perfect job capitalizing on the nostalgia-factor right in line with the rest of the game.
Music - Broforce Review
Generic heavy metal blasts at all times and it completely fits Broforce's aesthetic. This isn't to say it's particularly good music, though, as it becomes grating the longer the game is played. Partly because the levels aren't very differentiated, neither is the music. There was definitely an opportunity for more variation Variety in the music could have helped break up the monotony of the gameplay.
Gameplay - Broforce Review
Gameplay is fairly basic shooting and includes some great environmental destruction which changes based on the character type you are controlling.
Broforce's characters are all designed off of famous action heroes or the actors that portray them. Each character has their standard weapon with unlimited ammunition, which in most cases is a gun, but sometimes can be melee or another projectile in addition to a special weapon, something that is particular to the famous character or persona they are designed after. For example, Bro Dredd (obviously heavily influenced by Judge Dredd) has a controllable projectile for a special weapon and Indiana Brones, who has a whip as his main attack, has six shots from his pistol for his iconic special attack. This lends some deeper strategy and can change the tactics and mechanics for some characters and levels. This is also one of the biggest flaws of the game. The player has no choice of which character to use, but can rescue characters within each level to access and play with whether new or previously used. When a character is rescued you immediately begin using them, forfeiting your current character until you die, which starts you at the nearest checkpoint (assuming you had remaining lives) thus playing with your previous character. Because there are 36 different characters, and most of them play quite differently, you are bound to have characters you don't enjoy playing with, and frankly there are detrimental balancing issues. Some characters weapons just aren't as good as others, and special moves are definitely an advantage for some over others as well. This can cause frustration. Many times you'll be cruising through a level with one character, you either die, or rescue a new "Bro" and not only has the play style changed, but so has the strategy and the timing of shooting, running and jumping. You can argue this is part of the game; to become proficient with more than one character, and that's fine, but other games at least give you a choice, or at the very least, limited character choices, not 36.
Another gameplay flaw is the chaotic level design. Too often explosions are triggered by friendly-fire or otherwise that happen too late to react to, causing a quick death, especially in later levels. Basically, there are just too many explosions and in such close vicinity to each other that reacting is moot. In a game that encourages environmental destruction, the explosions are an annoyance when they are frequent.
Broforce Review Roundup
Broforce has a lot of fun paying homage to the action heroes of yesteryear with wonderful character design and fun, pun-filled names. Unfortunately there are some serious gameplay flaws that take a lot of the fun out of it. Frustrating character balance and chaotic environmental destruction leading to numerous deaths, especially on later levels, destroys the goodwill the game begins with. It's not unplayable by any means but it becomes more and more aggravating as the game wears on.