Brawlout (PS4) REVIEW – The Life of A Party

Brawlout

Developer: Angry Mob Games
Publisher: Angry Mob Games
Platform(s): Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox One
Review copy provided

My history with Brawlout extends back to those glorious days of 2016, which seem like a lifetime ago now. Attending my first full weekend at EGX, I stopped by the Angry Mob Games booth to play Brawlout, a platform fighter in a similar vein to Super Smash Bros and Rivals of Aether.

Back then, Brawlout was a shell of the game it is today, with only a couple of arenas and 4 characters. Since then, it’s grown to be a real contender within the platform fighter genre, while including guest characters from indie hits like Guacamelee!, Hyper Light Drifter, Yooka-Laylee and, in a free autumn upate, that headless chap from Dead Cells.

After being available on the PC and Nintendo Switch for what seems like forever, Angry Mob are finally bringing the game over to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and although there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had, there are still some flaws that could be ironed out. It also doesn’t help that the choice of platform literally determines how much replay value the game has.

As you would expect, up to four players compete to knock each other off of a platform, with the amount of damage you’ve taken dictating how far you fly after each hit. So far, so standard, and Brawlout retains a lot of the advanced techniques that are present in other games, including edge guarding, wavedashing and more. If you’re a dab hand at Smash Bros, it stands to reason that those skills will translate here.

Those familiarities also pass on to the game’s offensive capabilities. Players can utilise normal attacks with the square button, and tilting the control stick either on the ground or in the air will yield different attacks. Some characters can charge these attacks for bigger hits, but not all of them. Special attacks are also controlled in the same manner.

So what does Brawlout do that’s different? For starters, there’s no blocking. You can only evade or dodge roll, which makes for a much more aggressive style of play. No hiding in your bubble shield here. May fortune favour those who put more pressure on their opponents.

It’s a philosophy that makes matches much more intense, especially in 1v1 scenarios, but it limits how much you can do to stop getting comboed. The invincibility frames and range of your dodge can also seem unfair, as your opponents can often close you down and attack as you’re recovering, leaving you almost defenseless. It can be annoying when you’re trying to put distance between yourself and your foe, but their side special covers more distance.

You’re not totally bereft of options, however. Each hit you give out and take fills up your rage meter, and when it’s half full, you can activate a breaker which disrupts your opponent’s combo, gives you a couple of second of invincibility and pushes your opponent back to give you some much need breathing space.

Filling your rage meter all the way gives you access to, you guessed it, rage mode, which also acts as a combo breaker, but also grants you a limited time buff that makes you big and strong so you can smack people harder. It’s a great buff, but losing a stock resetting your meter and breaking a combo is usually more helpful anyway, so it’s rarely used.

Interestingly, the meter also governs how you use specials. If you have meter, you can use a more powerful version of your special attack, so there’s some strategy in whether you want to use your resources offensively or defensively. That’s the theory anyway. It doesn’t quite stop players from spamming special attacks to win, but they’ll only be a threat if your damage indicator is well into the triple digits.

As is always the case with games of this genre, Brawlout comes into its element in matches with 3 or 4 players, as the chaotic nature of the gameplay comes to the forefront. If you have a few controllers and some friends willing to fight it out with you, Brawlout should be right up your alley.

That being said, if you’re looking to buy the game, the Xbox would be the way forward at this point. That version of the game includes 5 exclusive party modes like King of the Hill and Coin Battle, which is sure to increase the longevity of Brawlout amongst you and your friends. It’s strange that these modes aren’t included in other versions of the game, and kind of makes the game feel anaemic as a result.

This lack of modes extends to the online too. Currently, you can only matchmake for 1v1 games in casual and ranked modes, with no options for matches beyond that. Again, it’s strange that Angry Mob Games wouldn’t utilise the 4 player capabilities in the online forum outside of private games, but here we are. We’d certainly love to see team fights online, among other things.

Online games also run via peer to peer connections, meaning match quality can be somewhat inconsistent, especially depending on what time you play. Living in the UK and trying to play games late at night did lead to more choppy games as opposed to playing at a regular time like a normal human being with a functional sleeping pattern.

As it stands right now, Brawlout is a decent 2D brawler, but there’s much more that could be done in terms of modes in order to keep players coming back for more. Hopefully, over the coming months, there’ll be plenty of updates that’ll make Brawlout the game it deserves to be, but right now, it’s a little lacking.

Verdict
Although Brawlout’s mechanics and gameplay are decent, and great for any party, the lack of modes hampers the game’s replayability, making it harder to recommend.Microtransactions: None
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