Brawl Review [Nintendo Switch] – A Gritty Bomb-Planter

The bomb-planting, puzzle-solving action vaguely reminiscent of the iconic Bomberman series has found a new home in a dark and disturbing setting that surrounds the new Switch port – Brawl. Taking on the role of one of the gritty “heroes” like the dismembered test dummy or sad psycho clown, players find themselves amidst a deadly Emporium booby-trapped by the eerie narrator slowly guiding players to their doom. That’s, of course, only if they don’t manage to escape the grim deathtrap first.

By choosing one of the eight playable characters, players may then embark on the game’s main story campaign, which acts as the single-player portion of the game. Each level throws a handful of arenas at the character, each tossing in more obstacles and enemies to add to the difficulty. To nullify and/or defeat these enemies lies in your ability to plant bombs, as well as perform other useful special skills and abilities which are unique to each character.

The arenas act like big mazes filled with both breakable objects like boxes, and immovable walls. All of the characters have the ability to place bombs to break through boxes and defeat enemies, but it’s what they can do with these bombs that makes them unique. Freezing them in place to stop their detonation timer, or sneezing a bomb clear across the area are a few examples of the special abilities held by each character. These special skills are limited in use unlike planting bombs, so players must use caution when relying on them. Along with the bomb countdown timer, players may also detonate bombs manually for more trivial challenges later in the game.

A Precise Bombing Affair

As you make your way through the levels, more and more enemies begin to appear, making the timing and precision increasingly important. To help with the difficulty curve, upgrades also appear when busting up the right boxes, or triggering the correct switches. Various upgrades include increasing your blast radius, adding more health or upping the amount of special ability uses you have. Finding the bomb power-ups gives you the ability to plant bombs, but the more you find and add to your inventory, the more you can place down at one time. Bombs come in unlimited quantities once you’ve picked up a bomb icon, but until power-ups are found only one can be placed at a time.

Maps are filled with plenty of deathtraps, barriers and most importantly, power-ups and abilities.

When finding health packs wyour health is already full, players may also add up to two more extra lives, and the use of a powerful ability, like causing a massive explosion surrounding a large area around your character. These are primarily useful when engaging in arenas with tricky enemy movements and plenty of breakable boxes stand in your way. Trying to use the standard bomb attack to wipe out enemy forces can become quite tricky in the later levels, which is exactly where the various power-ups and abilities come into play perfectly.

Taking players through the story mode shows off the dark and eerie visuals presented in Brawl. Like a combination of Saw and Bomberman, players will be taunted by the narrator in Brawl, leading them ever-further into the maniacal maze of deathtraps and hordes of enemies. The sinister stills that act as cutscenes in between levels show more of the character’s distraught backstory as they venture closer to freedom outside of the gruesomely haunting Emporium.

Each set of levels are different and are based on the 8 playable characters in Brawl’s story mode.

Bomb-arded With Competitive Modes

The play style of Brawl is unique when compared to the sparse ‘bomber’ style puzzle genre. Each of the eight characters not only has their own special skill and ability but a different set of levels for each as well. The story mode alone is packed with content, dozens of levels across all eight unlockable characters. On top of the main campaign is the co-op, competitive and practice modes.

Multiplayer is filled with even more bomb planting challenges, including 4-player deathmatches, survival mode which pits players against non-stop waves of enemies, two-player duels, Sumo which has players attempting to knock one-another out of each arena, and the unique Color Domination, which involves splashing colored paint across the board against up to three other players. While the single-player content is crammed with inventive level designs and power-ups, these multiplayer modes really create a party style atmosphere in Brawl, something that moulds perfectly with the Switch console.

Color Domination has players facing off against one another attempting to blast the most paint color across the arena.

Though Bloober Team‘s Brawl brings a familiar style of puzzling challenges to the table, there’s plenty of unique assets that separate it from the rest. While newcomers to the genre may find themselves trapped and killing themselves more than they’d care for, the ability to adapt and conform to the game’s complex and strategic approach to bomb-planting, puzzle-solving carnage comes naturally through the game’s in-game progression across the story. An excellent pick up for all those co-op party doers, this doom and gloom bomber is a simple, yet tactful addition to the Switch’s indie game library.

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