While some might criticize the game market for being saturated with high testosterone shoot-em-ups meant to appeal to the base desires of the masses, Broforce brings a thoughtful, complex, and intricately crafted masterpiece to the table that….pffffffff, sorry, I can’t even finish that sentence.
Broforce, a game jam entry turned Early Access game, is a high octane love letter to both 16-bit run-and-gunners and the classic action movies of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Think The Expendables but on the SNES. I actually had zero interest in the game at first glance. I took one look at it and knew it was going to be a silly, American-flag-waving-explosion-filled shoot fest void of any real story. While I was correct, I also fell in love.
The gameplay is simple and addicting: shoot, stab, and explode your way through a level, reach the end, GET TO DA CHOPPA, and go on to liberate more countries through excessive force. As you carve a swath of sweet, sweet patriotic freedom through the world, you rescue your fellow Bros, all of which are parodies of classic actions heroes. India Brones, the Brodator, Brommando, Rambro, the bro-tacular list bros on, and don’t worry: there’s a fair bit of butt-kicking lady-bros ready to get in on the action, too. Coming across one of these Bros nets you an extra life but also swaps out your current character, leaving you to decide if you want to chance getting a bro that could be more or less useful to the present situation.
Funnily enough, I got a bit of a Minecraft feel off Broforce’s fully destructible environments. Area too difficult? Too many indestructible mechs? Screw it, I WILL BURROW THROUGH THE VERY EARTH WITH A ROCKET LAUNCHER! Speaking of difficulty, the game gets quite challenging in later levels, and I found myself retrying dozens of times, even with co-op help. It’s fairly forgiving with the generous amount of lives the game provides per level (even pointing them out for you off screen), but sometimes the wrong bro in the wrong boss fight will completely destroy you. Those with the masochistic patience of a Dark Souls player should do fine, but if you’re prone to controller throwing, I might give it a pass.
Broforce looks charming and retro. Seeing little 8-bit Stalones and Schwarzeneggers blowing through pixelated jungles is fun to watch, and the more detailed, stylized sprites shown in introduction cards have an awesome art style best described as “everyone skipped leg day.” It would be easy to write it off as that popular 16-bit indie trend, but I feel that with the amount of love and work put into this, I’d be doing the game a disservice.
If I had any real issues to speak of, I’d say it was some of the serious framerate drops, mostly around areas full of explosions, which coincidently is most of the game. There’s also about a half second at the start of every level where for some reason you lose all control of the character, leaving you open to dying before the level even gets going. Online play can also get incredibly laggy very quickly, and I found myself getting lost among the other players and dying more often than when playing solo or couch co-op. This was on the PS4 though, so I can’t speak for PC or any other platforms as far as performance issues.
I absolutely recommend going out and showing Free Lives some love by getting your hands on this game. Alone or with some bros of your own, Broforce is a crazy fun time to be had, at the very least. After all, when was the last time you saw Snake Plisken, The Bride, and Robocop fight Satan?