"Broforce, my friends, is the game where you win by killing terrorists who have been hired by the Devil himself, who you also kill, after which hopping onto a helicopter to do it again."
There are so many retro-styled games out these days that it's really hard for something to shine above the rest. Everyone and their mother is putting out 8-bit/16-bit action platformers, because let's be real, if you want nostalgia, you want to hit one of the biggest genres of all time. Broforce is not like these games. Broforce is Contra, if Contra secretly wanted to be Minecraft, which itself secretly wanted to be Doom. Broforce is the game you play with your friends when you need to live an 80's action movie. Broforce is the game you whip out when you want to make your friends hate you for killing them while laughing about just how big of an explosion you killed them with. Broforce, my friends, is the game where you win by killing terrorists who have been hired by the Devil himself, who you also kill, after which hopping onto a helicopter to do it again. Did I mention that you get to play as some of the most iconic action heroes of all time while you're doing this? Congratulations, someone out there read your Terminator 2/Rambo/Blade/MacGuyver fanfiction and got Michael Bay to adapt it to the screen for you. Prepare to never need another party game again, because Broforce leaves no man behind.
A brief preface: You want to play this game on a controller, period. This game has clearly been designed with a 360 controller in mind, and I would never want to play it any other way, especially if I were playing with my friends. You'll thank me later, I promise.
As I've mentioned, this game basically plays like Contra – it's a run and gun sidescrolling action platformer, with a 99% destructable environment (the only things that you can't blow up are checkpoints). In Campaign mode, the goal is to get to the end of the level – which often involves blowing up as many terrorists, guard dogs, and robots as possible – at which point you must kill Satan and hop onto a helicopter to be airlifted to the next level. You play as one of a number of Bros – lovable pixelated versions of action heroes from the 80's, 90's and today. Every patch of the game releases a new character or two – most recently being the game's first female Bro – Ripley, of the Alien franchise (which also hints at some new Alien-themed levels). Beyond Ripley, you have Blade, B. A. Baracus, MacGuyver, Neo, the Boondock Saints, Rambo, Conan the Barbarian, Agent J, The Terminator, Cordell Walker, John McClane, and I'm not even finished rattling them off. Every Bro does something different – while you can broadly separate Bros into Melee Bros and Ranged Bros, every character's attacks are unique. For example, Baracus has a flamethrower and a fire grenade. MacGuyver throws bundles of dynamite, and his grenade is a turkey stuffed with remote-detonation dynamite that draws enemies to it. You unlock a new Bro every few rescues you make: Throughout the level, in addition to the myriad explodable barrels and enemies, there are cages which contain captive Bros – freeing a Bro while all players are alive nets you an extra life, while freeing one when there is a KO'd player revives them and gets them back in the game. As a fairly unique feature of the game, every time you rescue a Bro from a cage, you change which Bro you're playing as. I think this is actually a pretty great design choice, since it keeps things lively and doesn't let the game turn into a slog. It literally forces you to change playstyles, which can be good or bad, depending on if you get a character you enjoy or hate.
"There's a level editor, and the people playing this game are going absolutely bonkers with it."
In addition to the standard Campaign (and the new Enhanced Map Graphics version of the Campaign, which the devs are currently testing), there are user generated levels – oh, did I mention that there's a level editor? There's a level editor, and the people playing this game are going absolutely bonkers with it. Don't get me wrong, the developers are doing a bang-up job designing the levels (pun intended), but the people who spend their time designing custom levels are those special kind of sadists who derive joy from creating almost unwinnable maps, designed for only the stoutest of heart. Case in point – one level is designed as a reflex test, as the only character you can use is Terminator. Terminator's weapon is a minigun, which shoots you through the air from recoil. Thus, the level is built around you jumping to platforms while propelling yourself with a stream of bullets and trying to make it to the end. There are many other levels, with more added daily.
There are also a number of bonus modes, and more seem to be added with each patch. One of my favorites is Explosion Run – which is exactly what it says on the tin: All the players have to keep running to the right in order to keep from being blown up from explosions constantly happening on the left edge of the screen. Come to think of it, that's only slightly more orderly than the explosions in the game normally are – at least with Explosion Run, you know where to expect them from. There's Race Mode, where the goal is to get to the end of the level before your buddies – which, unfortunately for my buddies, is exactly how I play every level. There's also Deathmatch, where you can have a showdown – excuse me, Brodown – with your friends, with a few terrorists thrown in just to liven things up a bit. Basically all of the extra modes are currently in Alpha, however, so we can expect changes to them as time wears on.
"This game is a 1:1 ratio of input time and output fun – the game can be frustrating at times, usually from accidental griefing from your fellow Bros, but this game does not get old."
This is such a solid game. Devolver Digital did well when they decided to partner with Free Lives and publish this game – it fits right in with their mainc action retro-styled library, fitting in quite well with games like Hotline Miami and Luftrausers. The game looks good, it feels good, it sounds good, and it plays great. This game is definitely a must have multiplayer game, on the level of things like Castle Crashers. I was going to start going into a criticism of the game's one lacking element – a story – but then I realized that this game honestly does not require a story to be fun. I mean, what it does have is a basic goal of “start level, run, shoot, kill terrorists and then Satan,” and that's more thought out than some 80's action movies already. This game is a 1:1 ratio of input time and output fun – the game can be frustrating at times, usually from accidental griefing from your fellow Bros, but this game does not get old. At no point have my friends said, “Hey, you wanna go play Broforce?” and my response has been anything near “Oh, no, I'm sick of that game, it's too repetitive and boring.” The sheer adrenaline-fueled manic aura this game exudes is enough to keep it feeling fresh no matter how many hours you sink into it. And you'll sink some hours into it, believe you me. Now go grab some friends and shoot some terrorists already.
Review by: Adam Seats | Reviewed on: PC