Roguelike games are all over the place in today’s market it seems and there are plenty of good ones and plenty of bad ones. I’ve played games that fall into both of those categories. Brut@l from Stormcloud Games is yet another roguelike game entering the ring but from the moment I first saw this game a long time ago it’s distinctive visual style grabbed my attention.
Brut@l is a roguelike, hack-n’-slash, dungeon crawling action game that uses the old ASCII characters from the past to make up it’s world. That said world is procedually generated so that you won’t be exploring the same dungeon’s over and over. When you start the game you can pick between playing as a Ranger, Amazon, Mage, and Warrior each of which have different starting health levels and abilities. I went with the Warrior personally. You then are dropped into the the dungeon with your goal being to reach the final 26th floor and defeat the Dungeon Guardian. It won’t be easy trust me so if you love challenging games Brut@l certainly lives up to its name.
You’ll encounter all kinds of enemies in these dungeons including rats, spiders, goblins, fairies, skeletons, orks, and much more. You’ll fight them with your fists and and weapons that you find and craft. You do this by finding the ASCII characters hidden in chests and such and then must put them together to forge your weapon. It’s pretty cool to see how these letters fit together to create the weapon. As you explore each floor make sure to break everything you come across. This is because everything you break grants you xp towards leveling up. You’ll also find all kinds of other stuff in breakable objects such as food items, potions and armor upgrades. You’ll also come across weapon manuals which will let you craft certain weapons when you’ve gathered the required ASCII characters. When you earn enough XP you’ll level up and be able to unlock a new ability in one of the four skill trees of your choosing many of which you’ll need if you hope to conquer the dungeon.
Enchantments are yet another thing in the game. These are special colored versions of the ASCII characters scattered about that grant your weapon special magical effects such as fire or electricity. You’ll also come across gates that are color coded that when you have the proper elemental enchantment will allow you to pass usually leading you to new loot. The loot/gold that you gather can be used at special altars in the game. At these you offer up the gold in exchange for a random reward. My issue with it though was that it seemed like it never really rewarded you properly particularly if don’t have a lot of gold to offer.
Brut@l controls masterfully in my opinion as the attacking and defending is smooth and responsive. You’ll need to learn the systems here and know when the proper times to attack, block, evade, etc. You have a stamina bar as well so keep that in mind while you’re in combat. This is where the food items you find and gather also come into play as you’ll need to use it to recover health as well as ease your characters food meter. You’ll get notified if you are starving and will have to eat something to cure it. As I said earlier the game is procedually generated so everytime you die which you’ll probably do you’ll be exploring new rooms and floors. Sure sometimes some of them may look a little similar but it’s not a big deal. Also the rooms and pathways don’t get revealed until you enter them which is pretty cool.
Outside of the single player the game offers a local co-op mode for you to team up with a friend in. Keep in mind though that loot is not shared so you’ll have to be careful not to keep everything to yourself. Also if one of you dies the other player can revive you but at the cost of half their own life. It’s definitely a dynamic that you’ll have to plan around. The game has online leaderboards as well as a field guide that has information on the enemies that you encounter while you play. Finally Brut@l also comes packed with it’s own level editor which is pretty robust. You can make the rooms the size that you want, place traps, enemies, etc. This feature adds even more replayability to this game as you can then share your created level online for others to play. I can’t wait to see what kinds of brutal (see what I did there) dungeons the community creates with this. The only downside to the level editor is that you can only have one level created and shared online at a time which is a bit of a bummer. If you want to make a new on you’ll have to delete your old one.
Brut@l is one of my favorite dungeon crawling games that I’ve played in a very long time. The visual style of the game is striking and beautiful, the combat is smooth and fluid, and the game has tons of replay value both with it’s level editor and the randomly generated dungeons. If you like trophies the game has a full set including a Platinum to go after as well. The altars in the game feel a little unfair and I wish you could have more than one level created and shared at a time but those are minor nitpicks in this great game. Brut@l is for you if you’re seeking a unique challenging new dungeon crawler.
*Review copy provided by the publisher.