Review: Broforce (PC)

Genre: Action
Developer: Free Lives
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Release Date: 10/15/2015

There was a time that I thought Broforce was going to be stuck in Early Access forever. Ever since its early release last year, I have constantly kept checking in, hoping the game would eventually be stable enough to be considered complete. My wait was a long one, to be honest, and what I managed to play did leave me with hope and left me hungry for the final version. So here we are, Broforce is finally here, and it blew away all my hopes in the best way possible, with maybe only a couple of minor blemishes. Broforce is a nonstop, balls to the wall action game with enough testosterone to make even the ladies grow chest hair.

One of the things that immediately drew my attention to Brofroce was how it would parody almost every big Hollywood action star in the game as playable characters. You have a roster with over 20 characters, from movies like Predator, Terminator, Boondock Saints, The Matrix, and several Tarantino flicks. Who wouldn’t want to play as Mr. T with a flamethrower mowing down crowds of terrorists, or slice your way through hordes of zombies with Blade? This is an action movie junkie’s dream come true. Of course, the legion of enemies you take on is just as much fun. You get to massacre waves of terrorists, alien swarms, zombies, and even the residents of the depths of hell.

The next thing that drew me into Broforce was the impressive graphics. Sure it looks like another super pixelated 16-bit indie game, but that is completely deceptive. The environments are huge, richly detailed, and well animated. The way the environments crumble is just pure eye candy. Huge explosions taking out large sections of the game, bridges burning, pillars and buildings collapsing are all quite impressive as well. The variety of level designs are rather small but don’t manage to bore you in any sense either. It’s how you interact (destroy) with these places that win you over. You have lush jungle camps to destroy, commie controlled cities to liberate, and alien infested subterranean caverns to exterminate.

The enemy sprites come in multiple sizes with some excellent detail. Some of the terrorist sprites also show off a good range of emotions, giving way to some hilarious moments. I get a good laugh watching enemies run around while on fire with their eyes bulging out and screaming. The larger sprites of the more brutish enemies and even the bosses are very impressive. Giant Alien Worms, Killer Mechs, and a huge Apache Helicopter are among the enemies you’ll face, each featuring good texture detail and smooth animation. Broforce also has some decent scaling effects that mostly come into play for boss encounters. The game manages to look great whether you’re zooming in or out with no loss in quality. Overall, Broforce is just pure destructive eye candy.

Now, Broforce isn’t just about the explosive eye candy, and the game truly holds its own with excellent gameplay and solid controls. Controlling your Broforce warriors is smooth sailing with a controller for a game that relies on quick reflexes the farther in you go. The game’s controls are super responsive, allowing you to easily scale walls, dodge incoming enemy fire, avoid buzzsaw traps, and quickly leap to safety from suicide bombers. Outside of a standard attack, you are given limited special attacks that can be replenished with ammo crates, and a melee button that can either throw comrades and corpses around or break a Bro from his cell.

Broforce‘s gameplay tends to shift a lot depending on which of the twenty plus Bros are you using. If you have the Terminator, be prepared to fire in short bursts with the gatling gun or be sent flying backwards. Take A-Team’s Baracus, then raise some hell with his flamethrower that literally sets everything aflame as you move. You also have really unique characters like Cherry from Planet Terror, who can only shoot downwards, which lets her get extra elevation in the air and helps avoid some tricky obstacles like land mines. There’s also several melee characters, like Neo, Blade, and Conan, that deal huge amounts of damage but in return have the highest risk of death due to close quarters combat.

Progressing through the game, you will eventually play every character at random when starting a level, freeing a bro from a cage, or respawning at a check point. This mixes up the gameplay and forces you to play smart. Some areas will have a ton of explosives barrels surrounded by a fragile building infrastructure, so you shouldn’t go charging in playing as John Matrix, who’s armed with a rocket launcher. There’s definitely no true wrong way to play Broforce, however, and you can always find a solution when dealing with super difficult situations. The levels are also littered with tons of items that allow you to approach any situation. Gas canisters, oil barrels, bridges, and spikes are all over the place, offering solutions to difficult areas to get around.

Getting into the main game, there are a few unique gameplay options. We have the Campaign and Arcade mode, with the only minor differences being that there is no map or story elements in Arcade mode. The Campaign has you flying around the entire world delivering freedom and liberating nations. Each country you visit has several stages within to complete, and after completing each nation, the difficulty goes up. There’s a custom campaign mode that offers the chance to play custom made maps that are either made by you or others thanks to the built in map editor. All of these modes come with the option of offline and online multiplayer which adds to the fun and excitement of the game. Sadly, the last gameplay option, versus mode, is strictly offline.

In Campaign and Arcade mode, the levels start out very short, timid, and easy to breeze through, giving you a chance to understand the game mechanics, master your reflexes, and know your Bros. Dying is something that will happen constantly, no matter what, as the opposition has plenty of surprises to throw at you. Later on, the stages throw everything they can at you, with waves of hostiles, diabolical traps, resurrecting enemies, and some intense boss battles. Normally each stage ends by raising Old Glory, jumping on a helicopter ,and flying off in a blaze of glory as a wicked guitar tune plays.

Some of the best moments of Broforce are the boss encounters, which are fun and challenging experiences. There are several intense battles, ranging from Giant Alien Worms to heavy artillery vehicles like a flying fortress, death mechs, and super armored brutes. You have to figure out the best strategy possible to minimize your deaths, because usually you are given less Bros to work with with each encounter. The farther you get in the game, the bigger they become and the quicker you die. Despite the difficulty of later bosses, I never felt frustrated or got angry from the numerous deaths I’ve had. I enjoyed fighting the enemies and felt very accomplished upon beating them.

In fact, that is exactly how I felt upon beating the Campaign mode of Broforce; very accomplished and satisfied with the excellent gameplay experience that the game gave me. A new difficulty mode was unlocked after beating the game, which only gives you limited lives based upon the number of bros you’ve rescued. Even with this new challenge, dying and getting a game over a few levels in, then having to start over from the beginning, never felt frustrating. Broforce is similar to many great classic games of the past like Contra, Gunstar Heroes, and Metal Slug, and I loved every second of it.

Now I did briefly mention that there were a couple of minor blemishes that came with Broforce. These blemishes come in the form of bugs and a barely adequate online multiplayer experience. I’ve encountered a few bugs during my experience, ranging from longer than expected loading times between stages to outright freezing. The one bug I encountered the most was while playing full screen, as the game would suddenly ALT-TAB itself to my desktop. This happens at least two to three times during a playthrough and it’s the one thing that actually drives me nuts, especially when it’s during a difficult level segment or boss encounter.

The issues I have with online multiplayer primarily revolve around the fact that it isn’t as fleshed out as it should’ve been. When hosting my campaign for anyone to join in, I have encountered issues like my partner lagging all over the screen, not responding, or desyncing altogether. Very rarely did I ever had a good, clean connection with anyone that’s either joined my games or in the ones I’ve joined. Thankfully, the developers still believe in offline multiplayer.

However these minor issues don’t come close to tarnishing the experience; Broforce is a solid and fun experience all the way through and offers plenty of reason to come back and keep playing. Broforce‘s Campaign and Arcade mode are both pretty lengthy, which can take you a several hours to complete your first time through. There’s lots of difficulty modes after beating the game your first time, an offline versus mode, the map editor and the custom campaign mode. Hopefully at some point the online segments will be ironed out along with those annoying bugs that pop up from time to time. Overall, Broforce is a worthwhile experience for people who love action games, are fans of classic run’n’gun games and love a great challenge.

Short Attention Span Summary:
Broforce is an excellent game that delivers by being both a parody of everything we loved in action movies and paying homage to classic run’n’gun games of the 8 and 16 bit era. It will win you over with its over the top destructive environments, hilarious characters with crazy weapons, huge variety of enemies, fun level design, and challenging difficulty. There are some bugs that managed to not get fixed when the game came out of Early Access, but they don’t completely tarnish the experience. I’m also slightly disappointed that online multiplayer wasn’t more fleshed out, but I’m sure it will be with updates. I truly enjoyed my time with Broforce and look forward to its already announced expansion. Do yourself a favor and check out Broforce.



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