I recently realized that I’ve devoted quite a few articles towards the roguelite genre. It’s a testament towards my love for the particular sub-genre. Roguelites and Roguelikes are interesting since they’re so abundant in the marketplace that Steam is absolutely over saturated with twenty roguelike games a day. That’s why when a truly impressive roguelike game is released, it deserves recognition and praise for managing to surpass the increasingly low expectations for the genre. Brut@l by Stormcloud Games is a fresh and engaging twist on a familiar aesthetic that has been MIA in recent years.
Brut@l greatest selling point is it’s faithfulness to the true form of roguelikes. As in, it is like Rogue. We hear that term thrown around a lot, I use it quite often myself, “roguelike this” and “roguelike that” but what does it actually mean to be like Rogue. Well, I’ll show you.
The granddaddy of dungeon crawling, perma-death, role playing games. While on the surface Rogue may look rudimentary, in actuality, the systems at play were novel and unlike any that had been implemented in games prior. The experience that Rogue had offered captivated a generation of players with a gameplay style that wasn’t offered by any other game. This is the reason that Roguelikes and Roguelites were able to sky rocket into popularity, it offered an experience that no other game could offer. Sadly, what’s occurred recently is that so many games are offering the “unique” experience that it’s become stale and repetitive.
Enter Brut@l, a roguelite that harnesses the fundamental foundations of rogue while still managing to have a fun and rewarding combat system. As shown above, Rogue was a top-down procedurally generated RPG that used traditional turn based combat, quite a few iPhone games have adopted these core gameplay elements and adapted them to the mobile field (Looty Dungeon immediately comes to mind).Instead of the more traditional turn based combat, Brut@l opts for a more modern, action-oriented approach to combat that will immediately feel familiar to fans of traditional western isometric RPGs.
As stated previously, the combat in Brut@l will feel instantly familiar to any fans of Diablo III and Torchlight II, or pretty much any action based isometric RPG. While the combat is fairly traditional, what really made the game stand out to me was the extensive crafting system that requires the collection of unique crafting materials. As you progress through the series of floors, your character will collect crafting manuals which will allow you to gather better swords, hammers, staves, and bows. What makes the crafting system distinct from most other games is the collection of letters of the alphabet ala Tony Hawk.
Visually, Brut@l employs the ASCII design aesthetic, which mainly consists of text based visual art. This is where the ingeniousness of the crafting system is fully realized. In a game that uses ASCII art, to have the weapons construction be based on the collection of physical letters is incredibly clever. Beyond that, the visual fidelity of the game is fantastic. I loved the minimalist art style as well as the bold but sparse color palate. It really has a striking style that I absolutely love, and it never seemed to fade, even after 20+ hours of gameplay.
Finally, the Dungeon Creator is an extremely competent and powerful resource and tool for players who are interested in designing and sharing levels of their own. I designed two rough levels and the tools themselves never seemed to be a limiting factor for my enjoyment. Ultimately, my level did end up sucking ass but that wasn’t because of any shortcomings from the tools themselves, purely the time and energy I had put into the level design. Either way, it was a fun alternative to the standard dungeon crawling gameplay and offered a sufficient change of pace from the rest of the product.
Overall, Brut@l is a fun and exciting isometric Roguelite RPG that manages to hold true to the roots of Rogue while still integrating modern methods of game design. Never does it feel as if the game is deliberately cheating you towards death. When you die, it’s your fault. But, it isn’t the end of the world. You’ll have plenty of opportunities tor restart the level from the beginning with a whole new character and approach to the game. Every death is a learning experience, which will consistently keep you on your toes and engaged. I honestly can’t recommend this game enough. If you love roguelikes or roguelites, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Brut@l since it’s one of the best “one of those” I’ve played in a very long time.
4 out of 5
- Great visual style
- Excellent Gameplay
- Amazing homage to the Rogue genre
- No story