Released: 20th April 2017

SUMMARY
A monkey, an eagle, and a cat walk into a bar… only it’s not a bar, but instead the jungle stage of a battle arena. A Walrus enters the fight, and somehow somebody’s throwing magical sand from somewhere. Welcome to Brawlout.

“The sound of animal screeching and button mashing”.

Angry Mob’s Brawlout brings to the table something many larger publishers have tried and failed to deliver time and time again. Despite still being in an early stage of its development, the game already shows promise in becoming a very successful title in its own right.

Brawlout is a competitive multiplayer fighting game centred around characters dishing it out in platform style arenas. Taking inspiration from Nintendo’s own successful Super Smash Bros. Series, the game takes to heart the most important aspects of its precursor and adds a little bit of its own flare.

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Currently all game modes offered are limited to the same mechanic, in which 2-4 players are thrown into a frenzied match where only one would come out the victor. While this element does stay true to its super smash origins, the game completely removes ‘handicaps’ such as the ability to grab ledges and blocking incoming attacks. Thus every match is by every definition of the word, complete chaos, as players are instead ured to rely on their instincts and ability to deliver blows and combos at the right time.

Damage counters also take the place of life bars, and is the deciding factor of how long players get to stay on the platforms. This adds tension to each battle, as having a higher damage meter doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of the fight just yet. Brawlout introduces its own brand of ‘Rage mode‘ into the mix, capable of interrupting ongoing combos, add a little edge, or even save your butt at the last second.

The roster while also quite limited, gives us a definitive glimpse of what to expect of the final product. Each character are designed after different animals, and utilise fighting styles depending on what kind of meta-reference they’re trying to convey. Paco for example is modelled after a luchador, and thus his fighting style relies heavily on grappling and high flying- flagrant moves. In this sense their various mechanics can easily suit any player, as Brawlout successfully shapes their gameplay with accessibility and fluidity in mind.

Besides its two online modes, the game also greatly encourages local couch play. On PC, this can be achieved by either assigning players to their side of the keyboard, or simply plugging in their controller of choice. This is quite a handy tool when you’re not quite ready to join the ranked scene, or if you just want to have some local multiplayer fun. It’s great to see that such a competitive game take this element with heavy importance, as it feels as though many other developers have begun to shift away from the idea due to being considered outdated.

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Perhaps the biggest problem for Brawlout isn’t a even a part of the game itself, but is instead the amount of players you may encounter in each play-through. While technical issues still appear from time to time and can be tied down to its ongoing development, the lack of opponents really defeats the game’s most appealing asset. At the time of writing, the ability to join a match would greatly depend on what time and where you’re currently playing, with the majority of players sticking very closely to the ranked playlist. This makes finding casual play far more difficult that one would hope, as ranked matches simply feel alienating for beginners who cannot match up against veterans.

VERDICT
Like many other modern competitive titles vying for an official spot in the E-Sports scene, Brawlout is a game that is easy to learn but hard to master. Yet, its simplicity and replay value makes you crave more out of it, which it delivers with each and every match it readily presents. Despite still being in its beta stage, the game has already accomplished a greater deal than one could imagine. This is including the fact that story mode, challenges, and more characters are yet to be included in the final product. Brawlout excels in its balanced characterisations and solid gameplay, and could be the first to match the Super Smash Bros. franchise.

RATING: 9 out of 10

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