A forgettable run-and-gun
Indie video games exist in a realm of quality disparity I struggle to fathom.
This variation is a great thing, though! It indicates the fact both a single creator who has made a game from their room can release their work on the same platform and in the same way as a project created by a team of 50, video game veterans. It’s the type of environment which, in the same month, can produce the highly anticipated Ori and the Will of the Wisps as well as barely a blip on the radar Brotherhood United.
The latter is a game most will barely bat an eye towards and, quite frankly, I won’t blame them. While Greedy Hollow hasn’t created a bad game exactly, there’s little here to shout home about, and even less you’ll remember after a few days have passed upon completion.
The thin theme that you’re presented with is this: you’re part of a gang/mafia group, and your ‘brothers’ have been kidnapped, so it’s your job to run from left to right, shoot baddies, and save your friends along the way. It’s pretty loose set dressing with a few lines of dialogue thrown in to try and spur you on, but the only memorable part about any of this is the fact the sentences load annoyingly slowly.
In between these occasional bits of dialogue, you’ll be spending your time running and gunning through metropolis, jungle and robotic areas trying to earn three stars by saving all brothers (who give treats when saved!), killing all the enemies and not needing to respawn.
Frequently the running and jumping platforming parts of this game can feel a bit inexact with some areas, particularly at the start of the game, lacking space for you to jump smoothly onto another platform. It’s a tiny thing but indicative of the slight clunkiness of the system or a lack of finesse to the design. Which, considering this is one half of the game, ends up bleeding heavily into the combat as well and pulls it down.
Aim and fire, it’s easy
The shooting part of this game is where most of the satisfaction and challenge comes from. During your traversal through this couple of hours long, pixelated world you’ll get your hands on a variety of weapons which include: a pistol, uzi, sniper rifle, bazooka, machine gun, shotgun and grenades. All of the weapons play as you expect and offer a nice variation as you skip from one level to the next, blasting your way through a mixture of enemies.
For the most part, the combat is pretty straight forward; aim and shoot, but when you get into the right groove, the right rhythm the game starts to zing! As you avoid enemy attacks and knock several down without blinking the experience feels like it’s going to go somewhere! But… that soon dies down; a bullet will hit you, an enemy with its shield up will straddle another enemy frustratingly position so you can’t afford to shoot it or get close enough to knife it, or maybe you’ll try dodging only to roll further than you want, straight into another enemy. Whatever happens, something seems to impede the experience, stopping you from having a good time with this game.
Brotherhood United’s saving grace to the combat is it’s active reload system. Essentially shorthand for a system where – when you need to reload – instead of the character just resupplying their gun, you have a bar appear above your character and, if timed correctly, will refill your gun quicker. This adds a chance to improve your situation, to feel like you’re doing something productive. Although, it’s a shame one of the innovative features for this game is from a system born in the mid-2000s.
At the end of each level, a boss awaits to be defeated, and while they do provide a more entertaining challenge towards the end of the game, the majority feel uninspired. Most of the bosses just require you to run around frantically shooting, hoping you get enough shots in to kill them before they knock out your three lives. These boss fights often accentuate the lack of cohesion between the combat and platforming mechanics here as it’s more about trying to stay alive with the movement of your character than it is about figuring out the bosses’ animation.
There are aspects of Brotherhood United which are promising, but at this point, it’s an experience which feels unpolished. I had the game crash on me as well as several sections where the background music just wasn’t there. Overall, it just feels like a game I could have stumbled upon on Miniclip back in 2003, and it wouldn’t have felt out of place, nor would it have stuck in my mind.
[Reviewed on Nintendo Switch]