Review: ‘Brief Battles’ (PS4)

Game logo. Game logo. JUICY CUPCAKE

Reviewing games like Brief Battles makes me curse myself for having played so many games. It’s like seeing a lot of movies or TV shows. After a while you can kinda tell what parts they’re taking things from. Still, most games try something new for a twist in these situations. Some work; some don’t. In the case of Brief Battles, it does not.

Trying to tell the story of a party game is like trying to explain the plot of a playground fight - there’s nothing there except violence. You are a blobby-egg-thing, and you have to beat all the other blobs by jumping on them using powered up underwear. Yup, that’s the story. Not much to it, but it does the job - or at least carries on the gameplay.

On the PS4 the controls were pretty simple. It’s a battle free-for-all game, so it’s really just running and jumping across the map, smooshing others. It’s pretty straightforward, though it gives your thumbs a workout.

Brief Battles uses fairly simplified graphics. Backgrounds and moves can be a bit visually complicated, but characters themselves are both very animated and minimally animated. I’ll put it like this: it’s like a 2D Super Smash Bros., with a Worms background and moves, with a smidge of 3D thrown in with character movement. That’s pretty much what it felt like when playing.

The gameplay is your standard free-for-all battle, but with one very big difference: you have special-powered underwear used to hurt others. Really. That’s the thing that sets this game apart from others: powered underwear. There’s a few smaller things as well, but in the end, it’s about powered underwear. And it would have worked, too, if the power-ups they provided would have been unique. Unfortunately, they’re the standard fire power-up, ice power-up, etc. So, in the end, it’s really like any other game of this kind. The moves are the same - only the delivery differs.

Music and sounds were strangely disappointing to me. The music had that typical children's video game quality, almost like Simpsons games when you’re driving around, but a lot more banal. It's a little exciting, but there was no real soul in it. Sounds were also just basic bleeps and bloops. I mean, a few sounds here and there had marks of being ingenious, but for the most part it felt... sanitized and standard.

I’ll give it this - for all the complicated maneuvers it had, it never lagged. Frame rates kept up just fine, and I didn’t see any glitches. With four of us constantly trying to kill each other in a Smash Bros.-style frenzy, you might expect it to happen, but it never did. It held up.

Brief Battles tries to be more than it really is. It throws all these characters and moves and underpants at you, but in the end, it’s just another fight-everyone game. It’s a game you can win by hitting random buttons, is what it is. Obviously some original thought came into this, but it ended once magic underwear was brought in and the rest was practically brought in from a free game-making kit. (It wasn’t, but it was so paint-by-numbers that it might as well have been.) Still a fun game, but man I wish it could have been better.

 

Final Score: 6 out of 10

A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.

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