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Brut@l is an ASCII dungeon crawler that is anything but what I just said.  I know what you’re saying “What the fuck are you talking about Eric?  Did you take up smoking meth?” and the answer is no, just crack, but that has nothing to do with things.  Mind your own business and just listen to what I have to say about this fantastic game!

We were first able to put our hands on Brut@l at E3 2016 and it immediately left its mark on all three of us; so much so that it was named one of our top games of E3.  The thought was to take what your brain would envision while playing an old school ASCII based role playing game and bring it to life in all it’s dungeon crawling glory.  Every element of the game is composed of ASCII characters from the ground you walk on, to the treasure chests you open, the enemies you defeat, and even the weapons you wield.  The entire world is depicted in black and white, with smatterings of colors for elemental effects, but it still gives you a polished current gen experience.

It's not easy to make a black and white game beautiful but by god they did it.
It’s not easy to make a black and white game beautiful but by god they did it.

You start the game off by picking one of four classes, Ranger, Mage, Warrior, and Amazon. After playing all classes we unanimously decided that the Ranger is the best class to start your game with; while you can start using your experience to enhance any traits from the other classes, Ranger gives you the best leg up with enhanced crafting and access to HP buffs right away.  Once the game starts you’re dropped in to the first of 26 procedurally generated dungeon level, each more difficult than the last.  You battle enemies with your bare fists while collecting items to heal & craft potions, and ASCII characters to forge and enchant your weaponry.  Enchantments include Fire, Ice, Poison, Power (electricity), and Transformation (which has a chance to do just that to even the strongest of foes).  You have an entire arsenal at your disposal, provided you find the tomes and ASCII.

Oooh, pretty weaponry
Oooh, pretty weaponry

You’ll need all of those items and ASCII as the enemies will be extremely unforgiving as the game progresses.  You start by fighting just skeleton warriors and archers but are quickly thrown against Eels, Orks, Trolls, Fairies, Minotaurs, Lychanthropes, Giant Spiders, the list goes on and on.  Oh yeah, did I mention that the enemies can also be enchanted with the same elements I mentioned earlier?  Well they can and that can be very disconcerting.  You quickly learn that anything that isn’t black and white is bad news and should be killed or destroyed from as far of a distance as possible.

Bring a friend along with you because Brut@l is no slouch of a game
Bring a friend along with you because Brut@l is no slouch of a game

PRO’s:

  • The game certainly lives up to it’s name and is a very brutal and unforgiving fight.
  • The stark contrast from black and white to vibrant colors makes for a surprisingly amazing and beautiful playing experience.
  • Controls are very fluid and allow for a lot of great combat.  You’re a dungeon crawling warrior and can feel it.
  • Level up progression through all of the character classes makes your character a force to be reckoned with and helps even the battle in your favor.
  • Every level is different, every time you play through, allowing for endless replay value.
  • At first glance it appears to be a graphically simple game but boy will you be mistaken.
  • Did I mention that it’s BEAUTIFUL?!?!?!?!?

CON’s:

  • There is not much in the form of a tutorial so be prepared to die a few times before you start progressing beyond the second or third level.
  • The Alter’s of the Gods, where you can offer tribute for extra lives, are a complete crap shoot.  You have better odds at rolling a critical 15 than you do getting those finicky assholes to grant you favor.
  • It didn’t happen very often but once every couple of levels the game would stutter and jump mid-combat.  I could never really correlate it to 1 particular thing, but it did happen.
  • Every level is different, EVERY TIME!  I know I listed this as a pro but there’s nothing worse than dying on a hard level and not getting a chance to go back and make it your bitch.

TIP’S TO SUCCEED:

  • Break everything on the level to maximize XP acquisition,
  • Enchant your weapons ASAP, even if it’s already enchanted.  Once you equip a weapon to the d-pad you can cycle through each enchantment by pressing the button multiple times.
  • Fairies MUST be killed with your bare hands.  Try to hit one with your weapon and the asshole will steal it until you kill it.
  • Color = Danger, steer clear as best you can or kill/destroy from a distance.
  • FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, USE DOUBLE JUMP!  The game doesn’t tell you much of anything but I’m here to tell you that you can double jump all of those annoying pitfalls the game will throw at you.
  • Craft Talismans as soon as you can, you’ll need all the help you can get.
  • Bring a friend, take advantage of the couch co-op and have fun in the same room.  They’ll help you get passed the tough parts too.

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