Brawlhalla is a free to play 2D fighting game that’s very similar in play style to the legendary Super Smash Bros. It was developed and published by Blue Mammoth Games for Microsoft Windows, macOS and Playstation 4. The game first went into Alpha in April 2014 after being revealed at PAX East earlier that month. Over 18 months later the game went into open beta in November 2015 and was released as a full game on the 17th of October 2017. The game continues to receive updates on a frequent basis, balancing gameplay and adding a new Legends to the game.
Several fighters known as ‘Legends’ from various time periods have been invited to the mighty Valhalla. There they will fight across a multitude of levels all representing different era's of time, competing in the Eternal Tournament. The Legends are fighting for supremacy over their opposition in a never-ending battle to be the victor and prove that they are the greatest fighter to have lived. The Legends all have backstories of their own describing their lives before being invited to Valhalla. One thing they all have in common is that they were chosen due to being powerful fighters and warriors. Every one of them is far superior to the peers from their own individual team periods.
The goal in Brawlhalla is to knock your opponent’s off the fighting stage similar to Super Smash Bros. So, if you’ve played one of those games you’re more than ready to jump into Brawlhalla. Now, all you have to do is choose your Legend and get ready to start sending enemies flying off the screen. The way you do this is by damaging your opponent’s using a combination of light and heavy attacks making it much easier to eventually knock them off the stage. However, they can dodge and dash away from your attacks and suddenly putting you on the receiving end of a beat down.
The damage your opponents have taken can be seen on the bar around the players icon which will go from white to red as their health gradually goes down. As the bar gets closer to red players will be knocked back further by your attacks and eventually they will be blown off the stage. This will either reward you with two points and it will take one from the player knocked out or it will take a life from your opponent depending on which game mode you play. The winner is decided by whoever has either the most lives remaining, or the most points scored once the timer has hit zero. The victory conditions are once again dependant on the game mode.
Brawlhalla could have easily made themselves a copy paste version of Super Smash Bros and simply copied the game exactly and just add their own characters. Thankfully they decided against that and added in several new features that diversify it from its inspiration. My personal favourites being the addition of wall movement allowing to save yourself at the last moment and getting back into the fight. The other is being able to use up to three jumps in a row which like the wall movement can save your life. Both of these additions provide much more intense gameplay and means that fights can carry on in the air or even off the sides of the stage. This can help you finish off someone who just managed to survive being knocked out.
Another great addition is that all the Legends fight with weapons which fall from the skies above. These range from guns and rockets to swords and spears. Each Legend has two special weapons that they can pick up and no two Legends have the same combination, Orion has a Rocket Lance and a Spear while Asuri has Claws and a Sword. However, the move sets for the weapons are the same so if you’re good with the Spear on one Legend you will be on the others. Items like mines, bombs and spiked balls can be picked up to damage and even knockout your opponents as well. You can fight without a weapon however you will have the same moveset as any other unarmed character.
The things that really make the Legends stand out from one another are the stats which are Strength, Dexterity, Defence and Speed. None of the Legends share the exact same stats and the stats are assigned to correlate with the weapons and play style of that Legend. The more you play a certain Legend you will gain experience and level up unlocking the option to change the Legends stats, giving you the option to increase one stat but weaken another.
One thing that impressed me most of all was how every time I hit an opponent there felt like there was a lot of weight behind the attack. Some games have tendency to give you nothing when you hit an enemy and leaving it feel a little underwhelming but Brawlhalla doesn’t suffer the same issues. When you deliver the finishing blow you can almost feel the power behind the strike.
Graphics and audio
The game is very appealing to look at. The background and stages are bright and colourful with just enough detail to look good but without taking attention away from the Legends, all the impressive weapons and the spectacular knockouts. The Legends all look different although when two or three of you use the same character it can be a little confusing though. This is mostly due to the sheer craziness happening around you and occasionally I found myself looking at the wrong character and jumping off the stage accidentally. The combat looks fluid especially when you start using the weapons. Gun shots are fired and spears twirl as you damage your opponent. It’s so very satisfying when you watch them fly off the screen and you’re greeted by the explosion as they’re knocked off.
The audio is very good too. The sounds effects are spot on in general with the weapons sounding exactly how you’d expect them to in general. There are one or two exceptions to this like the sound that the spear makes when it's twirling.
The background music is quite subdued which considering the gameplay i surprising. In fact I was so focused on the amazing fighting that I barely even noticed it which is actually a good thing. If Brawlhalla had had a more noticeable soundtrack it may well have taken some of the emphasis away from the gameplay which would have been detrimental to Brawlhalla.
|+ Fun and frantic gameplay||– Poor Matchmaking system means that you could be fighting new players or veterans regardless of your experience|
|+ Attacks feel like they have real weight behind them, especially the knockout blows||– You need to play with friends to get the most enjoyment out of this game|
|+ Wide variety of Legends all with different stats tailored to their specific weaponry||– Some of the weapons are a little weak in comparison to others|
|+ Great game to play with friends|