BRAWL is a horror-themed party game where the aim is to obliterate your opponents using bombs. This is the second attempt on the PS4 by Polish development studio Bloober Team after 2014’s disastrous Basement Crawl, and while BRAWL takes inspiration from several features of the first game, thankfully this is a much more refined and polished experience.
The gameplay here is simple to learn and excellent when you want something quick and easy to play with friends. The premise is simple; destroy your enemies by dropping bombs on the ground. The game is clearly influenced by Bomberman and if you’ve ever played that, you’ll feel at home straight away.
The single player option features more content than expected and is a fun way to pick up the game and learn about each character and their abilities. You begin with four characters and it’s possible to unlock four more, although they are all available immediately if you are playing multiplayer. The story mode is intended as a tutorial and it does a good job of teaching you how to use each character. It’s surprising how much fun the campaigns actually are, although they do take quite a while and are considerably more difficult than you might expect. There is quite a learning curve to this game and while it’s easy to pick up, it can be difficult to master.
The main attraction here is the multiplayer. BRAWL is an extremely enjoyable and frantic experience which is best when played with others, particularly locally. Local multiplayer features five game modes: Versus pits you and three other players against each other in a free-for-all battle, and whoever has the most points when the time is up is the winner. Duel is similar, though it is a one-on-experience. There is also Classic, which bestows each character with a random starting bonus and is a last man standing mode where the player who survives the longest wins.
In addition to the three standard modes, there are also two more unique game modes; Sumo and Colour Domination. Sumo has four competitors trying to knock each other off the board, whilst Colour Domination trades bombing each other to bombing the board with your assigned colour. These are nice additions to the game and they help to stop things from becoming boring. There is also an online multiplayer mode which allows you to play in Duel and Versus mode. Another nice addition, although I did have some trouble matchmaking. I’m not a fan of the online mode as the local multiplayer is so much more fun and easy to set up, particularly if playing with friends. I was also surprised by how much fun the game is when played with bots. I expected an easy and tiresome experience with bots that didn’t really work properly, but it actually can be just as challenging and rewarding as the multiplayer once you get the hang of it.
The game also features a Challenge mode, which includes two different types of game; Horde and Sheep. Horde sees one or two players defending themselves against waves of enemies. Each enemy gives you a different amount of points and the aim is to survive as long as you can. This mode is okay although it isn’t as challenging or entertaining as some of the others. The last game mode is Sheep, which sees you act as a shepherd to protect your herd against the enemies in the arena. It can be played with one or two players and although it isn’t particularly challenging or as interesting as the other game modes, it can still be entertaining as a time killer.
BRAWL has its flaws, but they are outweighed by the amount of content included. The differing modes stop the game from becoming stale which means more play time for you. This is a serious improvement over Basement Crawl and very worthy of your time. If you enjoy party games then BRAWL is worth a try, and if you like Bomberman chances are you’re going to love it.
Dan O’Neil Rating – 7/10