While the trend of saying “Bro” every five seconds is generally little more than nerve-grating, there are times where Bro Culture can be humorous. Broforce, the upcoming action-platformer (currently in Early Access) from Free Lives Games, actually has a number of moments where its bro-heavy theme can be hilarious. Brimming with testosterone, Broforce is a title filled with chaos, explosions, and doom. It’s an absolute blast to play, and its interesting take on traversal infuses a surprising level of strategy. This is a game built upon its gameplay, first and foremost, so those concerned with an overly high high level of bro-ness shouldn’t worry. In the gaming sphere, we see too many titles hurt themselves by being overly heavy-handed, so it’s a joy to see Free Lives focusing on pure fun.
Broforce puts players in the blood-soaked shoes of various hypermasculine, though ultimately hilarious, bros. Each member of the Broforce is a clever take on a popular 1980s or 1990s movie or television character, spawning constant chuckles from those who recognize each character’s likeness. From Rambro, an obvious play on Rambo, to the Bro in Black, a pixelated version of Agent J from Men in Black, each bro inspires a great deal of nostalgia. Hell, there’s even a gender-bending take on Ellen Ripley from the Alien franchise (hysterically named Ellen Ripbro). Every time a player dies, he or she respawns as a different bro, giving Broforce‘s already insane gameplay an added level of unpredictability. Because every character (note: the use of “character” is a result of not trying to say “bro” every other word) has different abilities, one has to quickly adapt to every situation he or she finds themselves in. This revolving character system is one of the highlights of Broforce, though it’s not as exciting as the frantic gameplay or positively gorgeous pixel-art.
Think of Broforce as Super Time Force (minus the time-alteration system) combined with Terraria. Each player (Broforce gives up to four participants the chance to play at once) will find himself or herself constantly running, jumping, shooting, and blowing stuff up. This seems rudimentary, but when one considers the setting, this simple gameplay description feels oddly precise. Everything in the environment, with the exception of various American flags and the ground they are planted upon, is destructible. Massive cliff walls can be minimized with gunfire, then climbed up on using quick and responsive jumping mechanics (which include a downright awesome flip maneuver that makes wall-jumping exciting). If a cave full of constantly-respawning enemies is hampering your success, simply blow up the ground below it and continue. Is the area in front of you too dangerous to attempt to pass through? Why not destroy everything above and below it? Things are constantly exploding and flying everywhere in Broforce, so much so that it’s tough to discern exactly what’s happening at first. However, after taking a bit of time to get in the swing of things, Broforce‘s combat and traversal mechanics become firmly entrenched in one’s muscle memory.
I find it absolutely fascinating to see how modern technology is able to influence years-old art-styles. Broforce is very much a pixel-art game, but the amount of animation detail and vast quantity of particles on screen at a given time shows how modern it truly is. Stuff is literally flying everywhere, always. There are explosions peppering the environment constantly; bullets and characters are moving around at what seems too be the speed of light. The technical aspects of Broforce are a testament to how far development techniques have come, as this pixelated side-scroller is nothing short of a visual marvel. Those who immediately dismiss pixelated independent titles will find a way to criticize Broforce‘s visuals, but knowledgeable gamers will instantly be amazed.
There are some things that Free Lives have to work on to make Broforce the best game it can possibly be. A proper story, no matter how short or silly, will establish context for the presence of each bro. Contextualizing the characters in the right way would elevate it from a fun title that makes you chuckle a few times, to a hilariously crazy experience. The frantic gameplay and insane art-style are already in place, Free Lives just needs to put the finishing touches on its project. Time will only tell if Broforce is a mere flash-in-the-pan or an exciting title we talk about for years to come. The makings for something exciting are already in motion, which is by far the most important thing to take away from its early builds.