Impressions: Brawlhalla

Are you a fan of Smash Bros., but for some reason aren’t willing to buy a Nintendo system to play it? Well there may be a solution for you in Brawlhalla. At its current state it’s definitely not as polished as a full-fledged 1st party Nintendo title, but so far it’s a pretty decent brawler with fun (and sometimes frustration) as its core.

12 distinct & cool looking characters with room to grow. It's not a bad start.

12 distinct & cool looking characters with room to grow. It’s not a bad start.

As of writing this, there are twelve characters to play with. At first I didn’t see to much of a difference between them, but the more you play you’ll start to pick out your favorites. Each character has different stats assigned to them be it faster speed, higher defense or higher attack. I’m not sure if the sword symbol with the “swoosh” above it is the “heavy attack”, but it would make sense. Defense and speed are just gimmies though as far as guessing what they mean.

I’m not much of a min/maxer  so in Brawlhalla the stats don’t play too much of a role for me unless it’s the speed stat. Damage gets thrown around a lot so defense didn’t really feel super important either. Punch someone enough and you’ll send them flying. Get punched enough and the same will happen to you. None of the characters had visible weight either; everyone was as easy to hit off the stage as anyone else. So what’s the main deciding factor in picking a character? Weapons man, it’s always the weapons. I tend to like the longer range weapons like the spears or lances. The short ranged duel wielding daggers (which seemed to be the coolest looks wise) feel slower than I expected, but I love the swords on Thatch and Hattori. I just “get them” better for some reason. (Read that as: I don’t tend to suck as much with them.)

Here's me as Orion using a lance that is also rocket-propelled so you can shoot them with fire or ride it across the stage... that's just fun.

Here’s me as Orion using a lance that is also rocket-propelled so you can shoot them with fire or hop onto it and ride it across the stage… that’s just fun.

The main differences in the Brawlhalla cast lies in which weapons they can use the look and reach of their special move. You may be using the same type of weapon and it may look fairly similar, but almost every character has a different looking special with more reach or power (or a nifty spectral bear graphic). It’s those differences that will almost force you to play with all the characters to see if you like how one handles compared to another because that’s really the only easily seen difference. That sounds rather negative, but it’s neat to see the subtleties. At the same time, I’d like to see more differences between characters rather than just the looks and weapon choice. At the same time, I’m still one for looks, so even if a character handles well and has my weapons of choice I still won’t pick him/her if I think they look goofy.

Just so you can see I wasn't lying; here's Bödvar and his spectral bear move sending someone off screen and Sentinal is coming in to pick my bear's nose...he's so weird, but whatever you're into right?

Just so you can see I wasn’t lying; here’s Bödvar and his spectral bear move sending someone off-screen and Sentinel is coming in to pick my bear’s nose…he’s so weird, but whatever you’re into right?

The guns in Brawlhalla come off as rather awkward. I don’t handle them well, but I’ve got a bud that has really shown me up just by having me watch him. To a skilled player the guns are possibly no different from the sword or dual-wielding daggers, but it’s just not working out with me. Maybe it’s that the bullets don’t go very far… but that should be a plus in my book. How many times have you been annoyed by a person that just keeps running away and taking pot shots at you? (Argh… that’s a frustrating memory *calms before table flip*.) I know I’ve been a victim of that. Even with all that “history”, if I play a character that uses guns and end up picking them up I’m more likely to chuck them at someone’s face then shoot them.

There are a number of levels to play on and they are all pretty basic, but functionally sound. There is nothing super complicated about any of them, but they all come off as different enough to be able to pick a favorite if you had to. They even just added a new level recently which manages to be as simple yet still differentiate itself from the rest. As simple as they are, Brawlhalla is just begging to have a level editor included. It would only be a boon to the game even though I’m sure there’s a lot more coding involved in implementing that, but it’s always nice to give the fans some creative license. If there’s one that shines above the rest it could be implemented in the main rotation for everyone. Who knows what the future holds.

Bracket fun times! It's fairly easy for me to get first now... sometimes they NPCs are just mean though. My buds are even worse though!

Bracket fun times! It’s fairly easy for me to get first now… sometimes they NPCs are just mean though. My buds are even worse though!

“Blah blah blah, single player… what’s there for me and my buds?” I’m getting to that. Let’s just say at its current state I’d say that Brawlhalla is better suited for a local fighter than an online fighter. It’s all implemented and you can go online if you’d like, but the lag is pretty bad at times and it’s pretty usual to see people teleport around. The local play works great (Amazingly impressive if you were to compare it to the online mode at this point) and if you’ve needed a reason to buy more controllers for your PC, Brawlhalla could very well be it.

Brawlhalla is a basic fighter, but has more than enough going for it to justify giving it a try. It's a blast to play when you figure out how all the moves and characters work. There could be more differentiation between characters, but that may come with time. There is a learning curve, but you don't have to test your metal against other people. If you want to challenge other players, you can go online and fight through the teleporting lag-fest that happens quite a bit. I can't go negative on this because it is in Early Access and that will probably be fixed. However, you can have plenty of fun fighting the NPCs and once you figure the game out they won't give you a headache every time. The local multiplayer works fantastically though. With simple controls and a fun aesthetic, Brawlhalla is shaping up to be a pretty awesome game.

Brawlhalla is a basic fighter, but has more than enough going for it to justify giving it a try. It’s a blast to play when you figure out how all the moves and characters work. There could be more differentiation between characters, but that may come with time. There is a learning curve, but you don’t have to test your metal against other people. If you want to challenge other players, you can go online and fight through the teleporting lag that happens quite a bit right now. I can’t go negative on this because it is in Early Access and that will probably be fixed. The local multiplayer works fantastically though! You can also have plenty of fun fighting the NPCs and once you figure the game out they won’t give you a headache every time. With simple controls and a fun aesthetic, Brawlhalla is shaping up to be a pretty awesome game.

More Brawlhalla Info: Steam / Official Site / Facebook / Twitter

Jonathan Amarelo Sig


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