So what happens when a game developer mashes equal parts Diablo, Gauntlet, Ghosts ‘n Goblins, and Tron? Look to game developer Stormcloud Games for the answer. SG created a title that takes from all the properties above giving us the game Brut@l.
Brut@l will feel extremely familiar to any fan of Isometric view Dungeon crawlers. A key difference between Diablo and Brut@l is your character’s ability to jump like a ‘shroomed up Super Mario. Perhaps the strangest thing about the game is that it is not out for Microsoft’s Xbox One, even though the Xbox One controller’s likeness is used to represent controller functionality (at least in the PC version). It is even recommended by the game before game play starts to use a controller rather than a keyboard and mouse combo. Brut@l also released on PS4 back in August, a move that makes good use of the fact the title has a local Co-op mode for up to 2 people to play. This option is present on PC as well; however, the lack of online Co-op is a drawback. As a PC gamer I rarely find myself playing a couch Co-op title through my gaming rig.
Getting back on track, let’s talk about the three available game modes – Single Player, Local Co-op and Map Editor. The Single Player/Co-op mode is just as the name would suggest – it’s Brut@l. This is where the Ghost ‘n Goblins comparison comes into play. If you die in single player you have no choice but to start over from the very beginning, loosing any crafted weapons or potions you have created or found. That being said, if you’re lucky enough to be playing with friends and you find yourself derezzed in a digital bloodbath, your comrades can choose to donate a portion of their health to reformat you to life; otherwise they have to leave you behind as they dredge forward in the procedurally-generated levels towards Floor 26. The Map Editor mode let’s you build, play, share and even die in your very own dungeon.
Starting out you select one of four different heroes to enter the dungeon – Amazon, Mage, Ranger, or Warrior. Each is armed with only an unlit torch, a shield and your fists (cue “Eye of the Tiger” and your best Rocky impersonation). Working towards surviving and progressing in the dungeon will have you learning skills and finding raw materials to craft and enchant weapons, brew potions and forge magical talismans. All of these will aid you on your dangerous journey from Floor 1 down to Floor 26. Be warned though, with each potion comes the possibility of poisoning yourself, necessitating a mad dash to a pool of water for cleansing. I don’t know how many times I tried to make a new potion and ended up dead!
Things I enjoy about Brut@l are the crisp gameplay and detailed animation of the on screen movement. That, and it looks like Tron, which is a huge win in my book. The harsh punishment for death may be a turnoff for some players; however, if you’re anything like myself, that punishment makes you want to come back to Brut@l over and over to delve further down into the dungeon.
Moving on to the negative, I have to say that no online Co-op feels like a missed opportunity, especially when it comes to the PC side. This is a bit more excusable on a console, due to local Co-op usually being more user-friendly in your standard couch-TV setup.
Aside from that, if you’re a fan of Diablo‘s hardcore modes or Gears’ Horde mode, and are a veteran to the climb and fall if a wipe should occur, I would highly recommend you give Brut@l a try.