Brawlout is releasing on the Nintendo Switch and PC later this year, but an Early Access version is available on Steam. Does this game bring those itches of wanting a platform fighter onto these two platforms? Short answer. No. The controls feel clumsy in comparison to others of its genre and the characters and stages look generic. On the surface, this could be a great game, but there needs to be more substance and style for it to be a success.
The main problem with the game at this point in time is the physics. In a fighting game, especially one of this ilk, it is all so important to make sure it is as responsive as possible and with Super Smash Bros being the forefront of this particular sub-genre, Brawlout doesn’t feel as great as it should. You can’t hold down smash attacks while moving, and most importantly, the characters don’t react to your slight movements in the air that can make or break a battle. The right analog stick works to do tap side attacks but it can’t be used for smash attacks and probably the most overlooked omission is the lack of the D-Pad being used. Wavedashing and wavelands are possible in the game for those who play Smash Bros competitively. As someone who prefers Brawl and Super Smash Bros for Wii U/3DS, and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale‘s speed over Melee, Brawlout feels too fast and clumsy in comparison.
This will likely be fixed as this is still in Early Access, but I found that the framerate drops dramatically whenever a character falls off the stage; it can be incredibly off putting (especially in a 4 player match) when you’re in the middle of the air or trying to deal a combo. However, online play so far feels buttery smooth as it runs on GGPO, the same system that Skull Girls and Divekick have used. Another great plus is that while you’re waiting for a game, you don’t have to wait in a lobby; you could be playing a match against AI or go into training. Whenever it’s time to match up, it simply asks you to join and that’s it. More fighting games should be like this as waiting on a screen breaks up your enjoyment. It’s even better than Tekken 7‘s online system, which forces you into a training room while you wait for the next ranked match; you could just play Brawlout the way you want to.
Not to sound too harsh, but the character designs just look plain awful and make me wish that it was a indie-crossover fighting game as it includes Hyper Light Drifter. They’re plain-looking and look either like a stereotype or a way to make it look like the Nintendo or Capcom character they’re based on. Paco looks like a Mexican wrestler, Sephira has a generic looking Egyptian garb, Volt looks like Blanka from Street Fighter (and even uses the same move as him). None of them, except Hyper Light Drifter, feel memorable as the designs just don’t stand out.
The stages also look generic. There’s not much going on in the background or foreground, and there is just one platform and the occasional hovering platform; this is likely to appease those in the competitive scene, but it needs more variety. It’s got plenty of color on screen, which is pleasant to look at, but temples, pyramids, ice tundras, and jungles are things we’ve seen time and time again. I hope they think more outside the box with future stages. Despite this, the art behind them is fantastic cel-shaded style and detail.
For Brawlout to be a success, the developers need to give this an extra amount of polish to what players might expect from other titles from the platform fighter genre. The physics need to be fine-tuned, and the characters and stages need to be less generic. Why should I care about the world and characters of Brawlout? That’s what takes a fighting game from being good to memorable. Unfortunately like many others who try to iterate in this genre of fighting game, it lacks the soul to make it feel like its own.
A preview code of Brawlout was provided by Angry Mob Games