What if every action movie star you’ve ever heard of was a Bro? A Bro who rained pixelated death on waves of enemies in 2D run-‘n'-gun style? A Bro who was renamed with a terrible Bro pun? Brobocop, Rambro, Snake Broskin, Brominator, Bro Dredd. BroForce is, by all accounts, completely ridiculous.
This game is currently available via Steam Early Access. Once you hop into any one of its game modes from the starting screen, you’re immediately met by a note from the developers. In words that vary between options selected, there’s a constant reminder that what you’re playing is an early prototype. Things will change. The game will be different.
Well, I hope they don’t change much, because BroForce is good fun.
In the campaign mode, the one I admittedly spent the most time in for this preview, your whole job is to clear levels of varying length and difficulty by making your way to the end to kill Satan in a business suit (some obvious commentary on war waged for money). That all follows blasting your way through standard gun-toting enemies, baddies with bombs strapped to their chests, dogs that eat other dogs (and corpses) to get bigger, and a whole lot more.
This is a run-and-gunner with shots only moving in one direction. You’ll shoot directly in front of yourself, so don’t expect the diagonal aiming that comes with something like Contra. You’ll blast through dirt or use your knife to scale walls, and you’ll pass flagpoles and raise the Red, White, and Blue to establish checkpoints. The key here is to survive while dealing as much death as possible.
In each stage, you start with but a single life. Die early, and you’ll fail the mission. You’ll need to stay alive until you find a Bro trapped in a cage, where you can free him, turn into him, earn another life, and proceed. This is where the real absurdity of BroForce begins. Every Bro you capture is a new action-flick character. Blade is renamed Brade, and he wields a sword. Robocop becomes Brobocop, and he’s got his crazy blast pistol. The Terminator becomes Brominator, and he uses an all-powerful minigun.
Each character presents a completely original weapon and play style, so you progress through the game and unlock new Bros that change how you play. It’s random too, so you’ll have to get good with every Bro at your disposal to continue.
As far as Early Access games go, BroForce is one of the most put-together I’ve seen in a long time. Granted, it’s been on the service since April, but it’s polished well enough for a game that’s still in production.
Like the aforementioned devil business man, it’s fairly obvious that the Free Lives team are striving to make some tongue-in-cheek commentary about the world’s plight with war. In particular, the whole game feels like a big swing at ‘Murican Bro Culture. The only issue I have with that is that the game seems more ridiculous than poignant. It skirts the line between kitsch and camp, often falling away from the satire side of the fence and into a pool of low-bro humor.
Will people get the message? I have no idea. It’s there, though.
That said, the game is rather short in its current form. There are tons of modes to play, especially if you like to get down with friends. For a solo romp, I hope they add a bit more content to explore here. It looks like they will, of course, but this preview is only based on what's available now.
If Free Lives stays on track and keeps pushing this one out on all sides, BroForce could be a fantastic run-'n'-gunner. If the hilarity and over-the-top bro violence is the kind of thing you’d like to support, diving into the Early Access period wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.