This past week I got a chance to try out the indie game Broforce with some friends and while I had sort of heard of the game in passing, I really didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t bother to watch any trailers or read any reviews and thanks to it being gifted to me by a friend, it didn’t hurt to give it a spin.
Recommendation Status: Yeah, it’s a blast.
Had it been released back in the late 80s, it probably would have been called ‘MachoForce’, since that was the term popular back-in-the-day. Like many “indie” games, it eschews a modern graphics look in favor of ‘retro’ pixel art. Given the resolution, it feels like something that would fit around the 1989 era but the color depth does tend to be higher than what most systems could have handled at the time. No biggie really. I also doubt that any systems except for perhaps a specially designed arcade board could have handled the amount of objects flying around on the screen that Broforce manages.
The easiest way to describe it is a blend of Contra, Metal Slug and Soldat. I’m sure many don’t know what Soldat is, it has been around for a long time now and you can grab it free from here. What Broforce does a little differently is the destructible environments, which combined with massive amounts of firepower at your disposal, can be great fun to destroy or if you are not careful, a problem.
It also stands out in the use of 1980s, 90s and 00s movie action heroes for the characters. I am assuming that they didn’t have to license the likenesses of all of these characters but what I have come across so far include ‘bro-ified’ versions of: Rambo, MacGyver, B.A. (Mr. T from the A-Team), the Terminator, Walker Texas Ranger, Delat Force Chuck Norris, Robocop, Jay from MiB, John McClane, the Rocketeer, Commando (Arnold Schw.), Blade, Neo, Indiana Jones and several more. There are also some non-bro action heroes, including Ripley, The Bride from Kill Bill and Cherry from Planet Terror. Every time you die, you regenerate as one of the heroes you’ve unlocked at random and of course they have different weapons and abilities.
It can be a lot of fun playing as one of these heroes but they are certainly not all equal. Some are bad enough that they should be completely overhauled or pulled from the game completely. The way the overall game is designed is not friendly to melee characters and yet they have a few which focus exclusively on melee or point blank attacks. All the characters have a melee attack, so I mean the ones that have something like a sword. I’ve done ok with B.A. or Blade when they pop up but Neo is often very short lived and I find myself wanting Rambo or Commando. The melee characters are really awful with most boss battles, which become either overtly difficult, if not impossible, to take out the boss with those characters. I think those could be fixed (why limit Neo to ‘Kung Fu’ when the Matrix had guns-on-demand) although the one character screaming for a total overhaul would be the lady from Grindhouse. She just shoots at exclusively at useless downwards angles. There are a few levels designed in a way where that might be handy once or twice but given that character selection is entirely random and that most of the level design asks for you to fire horizontally (or upwards), her current form has you wanting to die in the hopes of getting a better character.
The action is often frantic and when lots of explosions go off, a little hard to follow but it is rather satisfying. Most enemies are fodder although they can occasionally get off a single well-timed shot to take you out (one-hit and you are dead). I love how levels end with the entire level going off in explosions, in true 1980s action movie style.
The game features single and online multiplayer where the only complaint I have is the camera in multiplayer trying to keep everyone on the same screen like it was the original Gauntlet. Unfortunately this leads to a number of unnecessary player deaths so hopefully a zooming out camera feature is added in a future update.
So far, that’s all there really is to say about the game. If you like platformers, run’n gun, action and explosions, you can’t go wrong with Broforce.