- Game: Brutal
- Developer: Stormcloud Games
- To be released on: PS4 and PC
- Release: Expected Q2 2016
The developers at Stormcloud Games have been hard at work on their latest project Brut@l which is set to release in Q2 2016 on the PS4 and PC. The studio is currently attempting to get the game available on Steam; so if you like what you see after reading this article consider supporting their Greenlight Campaign. I was actually able to get my hands on this gem at Sony’s PlayStation Experience event and one thing I took away from it is that it was vastly different from any other game that was on the showroom floor. Let’s take a deep dive into what this game is about and what makes it special/different.
What is Brut@l?
The name speaks for itself as within the first few minutes of playing you will discover that this game does not take it easy on you and you will be expected to think on your own and learn how to survive through much trial and error. Upon the start of the game you will be able to choose your hero – Ranger, Mage, Warrior, or Amazon. Your goal is to reach the 26th floor and destroy the Guardian of the Dungeon and claim his crown. Along the way you will battle trolls, ogres, rock monsters, minotaurs and many other creatures, not to mention traps at almost every turn that can kill you in an instant.
Brut@l is in essence a dungeon crawler that has an old school feel to it, it’s reminiscent of rogue like games from back in the day.
It has a distinct art style that reminds me of MadWorld from the Wii mixed with the lighting of Tron, with its use of bright-colored outlines on its characters that complement the black and white set pieces that surround you, as well as the bright accent of color used for blood, fire, magic, etc. The landscape that you traverse in the game reminds me of a chess board and the characters and enemies appear to be like the pawns. The world itself is completely procedurally generated so you will not play any stage exactly the same way. In fact as I was demoing the game the developer was walking me through it and at one point stated that he has no idea where I should go or what is about to happen as he has never seen this level design and situation in the game before; I was like “wonderful!”
Weaponry and Combat
Your character starts off with the barest of the bare necessities, an unlit torch, a shield, and only your lowly fists. You must find weapons by exploring your surroundings. Weapons can come in the form of swords, spears, hammers, and bows. Magic and potions are a big part of your offense as well. Interesting thing about the potions is that they are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get (sorry, couldn’t help it). As with weapons, potion ingredients are scattered throughout the world and you can combine them to create potentially helpful potions that could increase your health or be used to hinder an enemy. However, the crazy thing is that you never know what types of potion you are consuming as the procedural generalization built-in the game is always switching things up on you so you could take a potion that will aid you or you could be taking something that will poison you. The risk could reap many rewards or end up killing you. Go ahead and gamble with your life, it’s encouraged in Brut@l.
Brut@l presents you with varied combat situations. As with most games the enemies start off easy but quickly become more difficult, especially if you have not obtained the right weapon quick enough. What really presents a challenge is that enemies travel in packs called “Squads” and work together as a cohesive unit with full intent and effort put into murdering you on site. For example, you can have a situation where you are fighting a Minotaur that is constantly charging at you which is not hard to dodge, but let’s say he is accompanied by an army of skeletons that shoot arrows with a freeze effect that if hit by one you are paralyzed and become a prime target for the Minotaur. Enemies work together like this very well in this game. The game does cut you some slack as the combat is easy to learn and is extremely fluid as you are able to set your own pace. Slicing enemies is extremely rewarding as when you strike them down with your sword the creamy red blood effects pour out and really stand out in the black and white world you are in.
What’s so special about Brut@l?
Aside from the unique graphical style and old school feel what really stands out about Brut@l is the fact that the world and just about everything in it is generated and driven by ASCII code.
What a minute. What is ASCII code you ask? I didn’t know either so I looked it up.
ASCII stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. Pronounced ask-ee, ASCII is a code for representing English characters as numbers, with each letter assigned a number from 0 to 127.
Now that we’ve been educated – This is not the first game to do this but it is definitely not common, I know for a fact I have never played one. Basically you will need to accumulate ASCII letters through exploration for weapon crafting and enchanting. As you go you will obtain weapon blueprints and you must find the corresponding ASCII letters in order to forge your weapons of choice. For example you may find a weapon blue print for a Battle Sabre that requires a G, J and Y to craft; as such you must find these letters in the world. Once found these letters literally craft the weapon, bringing it life so the player can use it. On top of that you will have the option to enchant your weapon with power to electrocute, freeze, poison, or engulf your enemies into flames, but in order to do this you will require key ASCII letters that must be added to the crafting formula. This will be key as you move from one level to the next as having the most powerful weapons in the harder stages will be absolutely necessary. In conclusion, you can think of ASCII letters as the crafting system within Brut@l, however the developers have stated that the theme does run throughout the game on a deeper level and touches everything.
Overall Brut@l has peaked this gamer’s interest and seems to be bringing a lot of elements to the table that you just don’t see in modern games. I believe Brut@l will be a refreshing addition to this year’s lineup that will be releasing on PS4 and PC and I for one will definitely be keeping my good eye on this one.
What do you think of Stormcloud’s Brut@l? Sound off in that comment section! If you are interested don’t forget to support the Greenlight Campaign on Steam.