Broforce is one of those games that just seems to do almost everything right, and after spending an age in Steam’s Early Access, it should be expected.
The game follows an elite squad of “Bros” as they are dispatched around the world to rid the world of terrorism and instill “freedom”. Now this sounds like a frustratingly dull and cliched narrative to a game, and it is, but what it lacks in any sort of plot, it dazzles in sheer style. Unlike the straight-faced, “war is bad” narrative of the typical Call of Duty or Battlefield game, Broforce decides to make the story as morally unambiguous as possible: “you are good guy, kill dem bad guys, because they are bad”. No justification is needed other than you are America and America needs to bring back the freedom to places that don’t have it.
The whole gimmick of the game though is that you play as a huge array of different action heroes from films, except they all have Bro in the name, with more obvious heroes like Rambro and The Brominator, to the less obvious ones for action movie aficionados like the Brocketeer and the Boondock Bros. Each character comes equipped with a weapon, a special ability and a melee attack and these can range from simply machine guns to swords, and special abilities that range from incredibly useful (like the Brommando’s Rocket Barrage) to the downright suicidal and useless (like the Brocketeer’s “Fly up in the air and dive into an explosive and immediately die” ability). They each play in unique ways offering you further options in how to tackle the levels, and unlocking new Bros and recognising who they are results in the most childish of squeals you’ll ever see come out of a grown man.
The gameplay is where Broforce shines: a balletic display of chaos, explosions, and pixellated gore. It’s a complete mess from start to finish with explosives dotted all over the level, ready to destroy all of the environment around it. It also provides you with endless opportunities on how to tackle a situation: you could try and burrow underneath the enemy fortifications and go in for a sneak attack, climb up and over the building and not fight anyone at all or simply run in guns blazing. The game simply puts you in a sandpit with a bunch of toys and tells you to get from point A to point B in anyway you like.
The gameplay unfortunately also warrants the most criticism. The game prides itself on its manic nature, but when playing as characters who only have melee attacks and having to face several enemies that explode that will kill you in one hit (like all the characters), it becomes an exercise in patience more so than a carefree jaunt. Furthermore, you have no option on what character you can choose to play as, having to unlock “lives” in the level in the form of POWs, who on collection, will immediately transform you into a different hero. Although this does spice up the action, forcing you to vary your play style, it also results in contemplation as to whether or not you should risk swapping a good character for a potentially much worse or useless one. And when there are enemies all around you with debris falling from the sky that will kill you immediately, little time is given to make any choice at all.
Regardless of these complaints though, Broforce left me wanting more, and through stubborn determination, I played it to the end. If you enjoy trial and error games in a similar vain to Hotline Miami, then Broforce will satisfy that need nicely.