08th Mar2018

Digital Shorts: ‘Brawl’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat

In DIGITAL SHORTS we review some of the latest video games that are only available digitally (at least in the UK), in a short-form review format. In this edition we take a look at Brawl, a new horror game now available on the Nintendo Switch.


Take classic horror video game tropes, add in some Bomberman-style gameplay and you have Brawl, of which the official description reads thus: “Step into the darkness of The Emporium with 8 unique characters, each with a rich back story and a surprising plot-twist. Fight your way to the end using different play styles, from pure brutality as a Wrestler to hiding in shadows as an elusive Thief.”

Who knew that essentially skinning Bomberman in a grim and dark fashion could make for such an interesting game? Of course Brawl is much more than that – there’s been a teremendous amount of thought oput into making this game not only look scary but FEEL scary too! For if there’s one thing this game has in spades is atmosphere… From the creepy design of the characters to the eerie, shadow-filled visuals, Brawl is not only an exercise in fantastic puzzle gaming, but also fantastic horror gaming – evil teddy bears riding scary little children, killer clowns, and creepy little dolls abound!

A remake of a 2014 PS4 title, Basement Crawl, that I had never heard of previously but which, apparently, was not very well received, Brawl features 8 characters, each with their own stories and more importantly, their own abilities. In terms of story, each characters tale becomes part of the single player campaign with the game revealing the grotesqueries of each character in animated scenes that up the creep factor considerably. However that creepiness does not follow through into the gameplay itself. Instead we get dark, dank looking Bomberman levels that don’t really reflect the rest of Brawl’s horrific package.

Where Brawl does shine (should a horror game shine? Aren’t we going for dark and gloomy here?) is in the multiplayer. There are several OFFLINE multiplayer modes to play through like the typical “Versus mode” where you battle 3 other players to see who can score the most kills. Then there’s the oddly named (but still somehow apt) “Sumo mode” where you’re challenged to push your opponents off of the map… Then there’s what the developers have termed “Colour Domination mode”, which is essentially a riff on Splatoon’s floor-colouring mechanic. There’s also “Horde mode” which sees you and up to 3 other players try to blow up as many of the attacking enemies possible; and “Sheep mode” which is very much a tower defense tyle game mode, only with sheep instead of towers!

If you’re looking for more Bomberman-like gameplay on the Switch (after all what other options do you have after completing launch game Super Bomberman R?) Brawl will fill that gap. Just don’t go expect Until Dawn or Resident Evil like chills – Brawl is more R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps than bomb-filled gorefest.


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