I'm the Brominator, pulverising scores of pixellated little goons into much smaller pixels of blood and limbs. Suddenly, something explodes above me (source unknown), causing a whole building to come crashing down on my head, and now it's me being obliterated into little chunks of viscera. Now I'm Ellen Ripbro, traversing the crumbling, exploding, and fragile level and obliterating my foes with a giant laser beam.
I free a prisoner, and suddenly I turn into BroGyver, and I'm useless, and soon dead, next taking control some 'bro' variant of Chuck Norris I don't recognise. I think I'm feeling early signs of shellshock coming on amidst the carnage and the explosions and the 80s-movie explosiveness of this unapologetically pixellated 2D platform-shooter and I'm having an absolutely awesome (bro-some?) time.
One and a half years on from its early access debut, comically ultra-violent platformer Broforce has finally become a fully-fledged game whose qualities I can now condense into a numerical score. I was there pretty much from the start of the game's journey, powering through hour-long local multiplayer sessions before throwing down my controller and screaming that I can't take any more.
Such is the Broforce effect; intense, chaotic, and utterly gripping for short-mid-length sessions, but too relentless to play for any longer.
The game sees you control iconic heroes mainly from 80s and 90s action movies, across a range of gung-ho warzones like Vietnam, Kazakhstan and Cambodia. Each hero is instantly recogniseable, with the only difference between them and their real-life counterpart being the bro-ification of their names Bro In Black, Brommando, Rambro, Brodator and so on (shame on you if you can't instantly decrypt who these names belong to).
You have no choice over which bro you control. This is picked for you randomly, and changes each time you free a prisoner on a level or die. Each bro has a basic firing mode, a unique melee attack, and a special move - Bro Hard (John McClane) has a stun grenade, Brobocop can line up a volley of homing bullets, while one of the several Chuck Norris variants whose name evades me (isn't Chuck Norris just always Chuck Norris) calls in an airstrike.
Devolver Digital/What Culture
Free Lives Games did a great job of making each bro feel distinct, though less so balancing them out. Snake Broskin, for example, is lethal thanks to his rangey sniper rifle, while the melee-based and oafish Bronan the Brobarian just doesn't quite cut it (though I never tire of hearing Arnie's moronic roarwhen he carries out his special). But the massive disparity in the usefulness of the game's heroes in a way this complements the randomised character selection. It forces you to adapt quickly, and if you're playing with friends then you'll always hear a joyful or despairing reaction depending on which bro they pick.
But even when you're not controlling the character best equipped to deliver bullets of freedom and bombs of liberation on the game's cutesy denizens, Broforce's comedy value makes it a joy to play even when you're losing. It's a light-hearted parody of America's extreme relationships with patriotism, guns, and Hollywood action heroes.
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