Battle Brothers Preview – Rolling With the Rat Bastards

Battle Brothers is a recently-released, turn-based RPG that I’ve been playing over the weekend. Since its launch on March 24, Battle Brothers obtained a “very positive” accolade on Steam, and according to the developers, the sales figures are positive as well. After spending a few hours with the game over the past few days, it’s not hard to see why. Battle Brothers is a very engaging game, and as someone who normally shies away from turn-based RPGs, I found myself hooked on the game’s hospitable gameplay which was either intuitive or easy-to-learn.

Battle Brothers is based around a group of mercenaries that players recruit, equip, and send out on missions. Players can choose some basic customization options at the start, but the most important part of any mercenary group is the name. After some deliberation, I selected the name, The Rat Bastards, for my mercenary group. It seemed a proper name for such a down-on-their-luck gang.

After the basics are established, it’s off into the medieval world of Battle Brothers, and then hopefully onward to riches and glory. Realistically though, there’s going to be a lot of blood and death before riches and glory are aplenty. A lot of blood and death, actually. Like, a lot, a lot.

I learned the hard way that sending a former monk armed with a pitchfork into battle against a hillside of thieves with nothing to lose is a good way to send that monk to his maker a lot sooner than he probably would have liked. Rest in peace, Volker, we hardly knew ye.

Battle Brothers is sporting a healthy dosage of Oregon Trail inspiration in its blood, adding a bit of nostalgia to work with the stat-based decision making. I felt compelled to take care of my mercenary units that I have had the longest, even if they weren’t the best units I had. Battle Brothers will remind players that a particular character has been a part of the group for X-amount of days, or that he partook in that one big battle, or survived a massacre, or so forth.

This feature made deaths in Battle Brothers more impactful, though I’d imagine that sense of obligation wanes if it’s a player’s second or third time through the game.

I’m not reviewing Battle Brothers; I don’t play enough turn-based RPGs to really have a good sense of what this game does better/worse than other games. On top of that, I simply don’t have the time to dedicate to thoroughly/fairly play through this game. But, as I said, I enjoyed Battle Brothers far more than I expected to, even as someone who doesn’t usually jump at the chance to play a game from this genre.

If you’re on the fence about the game, I’d say it’s a safe bet that you’ll like it. Besides the lack of diversity (a few hours into the game and I only have had the option to recruit white dudes), there wasn’t anything about Battle Brothers that rubbed me the wrong way, or stuck out as a poor mechanic. Sending your gang of mercenaries through the map on longer treks can become a bit tedious, but the ability to fast-forward time slightly, and the occasional random event, do serve to break apart the monotony.

Battle Brothers is available now for PC.

[Battle Brothers on Steam]

A retail copy of Battle Brothers was provided to Epic Brew for the purpose of this article.

Enter the Gungeon Review

It was when my fire ant gun allowed me to ignite the ant’s flatulence, turning it into a weapon capable of accidentally igniting an entire room, that I knew Enter the Gungeon was going to be one of those games that I would not forget.

Enter the Gungeon is a rogue-like dungeon crawler that is heavy on the action-combat, and light on strategy. Valuing reaction speed over critical thinking, Enter the Gungeon rewards reflexes over strategic thinking. By nature, Enter the Gungeon is a game that requires players to grind through randomly-generated portions of the game, over and over, in order to slowly progress through the game. Thanks to the rapid combat, there is little downtime, so once you understand the basics, and are comfortable stomaching repeated deaths, Enter the Gungeon welcomes you with open arms.

Speaking of arms, one of my favorite things about Enter the Gungeon is the theme of it all.

Beyond the title, a pun on the word “dungeon”, the game features enemies shaped like bullets, others with gun-pun names (The Gatling Gull was one of my favorites), an item index called the Ammonomicon, and an elevator system that functions like a breech-loading weapon.  Theme is rarely something that I specifically enjoy in a game. Usually I point out the game’s interesting story, or solid gameplay mechanics, but with Enter the Gungeon, I am all about the game’s tongue-in-cheek gun theme.

That’s not to say that the story, or gameplay mechanics, are to be overlooked. In Enter the Gungeon, like many dungeon crawlers, the story is whittled away as players become better and better at the game’s encounters and in dealing with the assortment of enemies. I’m roughly six hours in and the story is still in the early stages of unraveling.n I’m still very interested in seeing how it unfolds.

While the mystery plays out, the gameplay has kept the sometimes-repetitive experiences fresh and exciting. Enter the Gungeon is a free-roaming roguelike, so players can move their chosen character in any direction while simultaneously firing their gun in any direction. The gun variety is a hallmark of Enter the Gungeon and I found myself using weapons that ranged from traditional firearms to weaponized t-shirt cannons, and the aforementioned fire ant.

Don’t dismiss the graphics just yet either, they may be pixelated but the art design and interactivity of the environments can create some riveting gameplay moments. Bullets interact with objects in the levels; a missed shot may fly past an enemy and shatter a lantern, plunging that corner of the room into dim lighting; a table stacked with books that is flipped onto its side to be used for cover will send pages of the books fluttering out into the air; and as you likely saw in the video linked above, a room engulfed in flames is beautiful horror to behold.

The only moderately negative note that I wrote down while playing through the game is that because it’s so action-focused and highly dependent on super-concentration to weave through rooms filled with enemies filling the air with bullets, I find that I am mentally exhausted by the conclusion of my first or second run. It’s not that I’m burned out on the game, I just like to play games to relax and when my character eventually bites the dust, I find myself back in reality, hunched forward, leaning towards my monitor, my heart beating faster than it should for being so stationary, and my fingers stiff from the intensity of controlling my character through it all.

But Enter the Gungeon offers up some truly outrageous moments that have kept me coming back for more.

Verdict: Enter the Gungeon is a very fun, action-focused rogulike that features great high-intensity moments that pair well with the game’s light-hearted, thematic humor.

[Enter the Gungeon on Steam]

P.S. – My copy of Enter the Gungeon was purchased on my own.