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Broforce Review: A Brotastic Fight For Freedom

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At its core, Broforce is a run and gun platformer; but it is so more than just that. The game pays homage to 80’s and 90’s action movies where a hero would rack up an immense body count, dishing out the pain to all that would stand in his way. The game delivers humorous wordplay, a massive amount of carnage and dozens of Bro’s to play with.

The game's developer is Free Lives (a Cape Town based company) and published by Devolver Digital. It has recently moved out of Steam’s Early Access into a full release of pure awesomeness. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the free “The Expendabro’s” last year, it is only a small shot of testosterone compared to the full on experience Broforce delivers.

In essence, Broforce reminds me of favorite game growing up; Contra, the 1988 classic NES game. If you have not stopped reading right there and bought the game, you should probably read my review below, bro...

Liberate the world from evil

Evil threatens the world, from terrorists, aliens and Satan himself. The world needs the Broforce, an under-funded, over-powered group of “heroes” that deal exclusively in the excessive use of force. A buffed up military general, with arms like tree trunks and a cigar tells you why you are going to an area in the campaign map, as you fly around the world in a helicopter.

The difficulty of an area is shown via a “threat level” and little to no additional indication of a story is revealed. Flying over an area reveals a line of flavour text for example “This is Cambodium, soon to be CamBrodium, get to work” or “This is Arstotzka. Sources claim that it is, in fact, a real country. Get to work!”

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As you land, you need to “liberate” and area by basically killing everything in sight and blowing stuff up. Broforce is emotionless, hard-ass and unapologetic in its delivery of a “story” and filled with humor.

And that is exactly why it is so exceptionally fun to play.

During the campaign you unlock dozens of other Bro’s to play with. Each time you start a level, a random unlocked Bro is your starting character. The amount of lives you have is determined by how many Bros you have saved in the current level.

Each Bro has his/her own set of unique weaponry. For example, Rambro (obvious) has a machine gun, grenades and a big knife. Brodell Walker (Chuck Norris from Walker, Texas Ranger) has a shotgun and a powerful roundhouse kick. From the dozens of Bros, my favorite is “Bro in Black”, an obvious play on Will Smith in a Men in Black, a movie franchise you might recall. He has a pistol that deals massive futuristic explosions on every shot that can destroy a whole level in 30 seconds or less.

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All the Bro’s and the arsenals they carry are there for you to dispatch freedom across the world. Every time you save a Bro, you get an extra life and the character you play with is switched. After a certain amount of saves, you unlock another Bro to play with. The game is difficult and you will surely fall many times to the varied enemies the game throws at you.

Although the gameplay is in essence simplistic, it is exceptionally addictive. The Bros you play with are buffed beyond belief, any hit from one source of damage still kills, which is one of the reasons the game’s multiplayer is just so damn fun.

A Bro in need is a Bro indeed

Broforce’s four player co-op is the “best possibro” way to experience the game. It is full on carnage as you play the campaign or custom created community maps, of which there is close to two thousand at the time of writing.

If you get a little trigger-happy, you and your Bros can flatten a level in seconds as almost every part of a level is destructible. With your group of Bros, you liberate areas, fight varied enemies and just blow stuff up for hours on end; and it’s the most fun I’ve had in years.

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Throughout levels there are various objects that can explode or drop on your head. If you blow up too much of a level, you might not be able to complete it. One of the challenges of multiplayer is to not blow up your Bros or cause them to die, losing the fight against terror in the process.

The ability to kill your Bros is one of the most exhilarating, annoying and excessively fun aspects of multiplayer. The chaos is already over-the-top with only one Broforce character. Four Broforce characters on the same screen is, overkill, in the best possible way. Although it is so chaotic, it is chaos and carnage that makes Broforce what it is; an emotionless, powerful and difficult run-and-gun platformer.

It is the best co-op experience I’ve had since Contra.

If one of your Bros die, they stay dead until you get to a NPC to save, at which point your Bro respawns with another random character to use. If everyone is alive, the one who saves the next NPC will get an extra life. You can join servers online playing with random Bros or you can create your own server and password protect it so only Bros you know can join.

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The multiplayer makes me want to get up from my chair and high-five my Bros after every level; it is something co-op games rarely accomplish even with AAA budgets. Broforce gives you that feeling of a real co-op experience where your actions can cause your fellow Bros to win or fail horribly in a matter of seconds.    

The look and sound of freedom

The game uses 2D pixel art like so many games these days. Unlike most games that use the art style, Broforce actually gives you that nostalgic feeling of 80’s / 90’s 2D platformers. Even though it is 2D pixel art, the game looks amazing as it delivers so much fine detail. For example, all the Bros are so well done that you never think “hmm, which Bro am I playing now?”

Further, the environment has little details and animations you probably won’t even realize exist at first, for example animations of trees in the background or blood from your enemies dripping slowly off a wall.

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What makes the game stand out from the crowd is that almost everything is destructible. You can blow up entire levels. Further, even the enemies have different ways they die, from dropping to the floor after a “freedom shot”, decapitation from a will placed bullet or being blown to smithereens.

The sound quality is awesome...However; it’s not going to win any awards. It has a very retro platformer feeling to it. A manly announcer screams "Broforce!" as you start a game. Gunfire sounds amazing, yet simplistic. The best part about the sound effects of Broforce is the way enemies scream like frightened children at the sight of your Bros. 

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The only minor annoyance in Broforce is its menu and map navigation. The escape key does not let you leave the menu you are in. Flying around in a helicopter on the campaign map is a nice little way to progress the story.  However, the game does not indicate that you actually have to press “Z” to land the chopper, which caused me to smash random keys until I figured it out and started dishing out some freedom bullets.

Closing Thoughts

I highly recommend Broforce to anyone who does not have a distain for platformers, or freedom... The game is the most exhilarating platforming experience I have had since Contra. Although the single-player campaign is brilliantly addictive, the star of the show has to be four player co-op, which takes the carnage to a whole new level of awesome.

If that isn’t enough, Broforce also includes a level editor, which you can use to build levels to challenge your Bros. The level editor offers something many other games do not; unlimited replaybility.

With so much to offer, Broforce is still relatively cheap to buy. You can pick it up for $14.99 or opt for a four-pack at the price of $44.99. At the time of writing there is promotional offer on Steam, where you can purchase the game for $9.99 or a four-pack for $29.99 due to the game moving out of Early Access into a full release.

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