The beat-em-up genre has become the equivalent of Jello in the video game community, in that there’s always room for one more. We’ve got plenty of gems to enjoy on the console front, such as Fight ‘n Rage, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and the always dependable Streets of Rage 4. But out of nowhere, a team called Hero Concept has revealed a real surprise with Mayhem Brawler, a game that makes up for its generic name with some fun combat and an enjoyably different monster theme. It’s not quite up there with the greatest of classics, but it’s a well-defined entry point that fans of the genre will surely enjoy.
The game takes place in a world where monsters are the norm alongside humans. That means werewolves can walk amongst others without any fear of being shot with silver bullets (well, unless you’re an absolute maniac), and it’s all good. That leads to three police officers that have monstrous tendencies, as they attempt to solve a case involving ne’er-do-wells. It’s a really well-done tale, and one that actually branches out in different directions, automatically warranting a second (and maybe more) playthroughs, just to see how everything plays out.
Each character offers something cool, like Trouble, a cop that can unleash razor-sharp claws; and Star, who unleashes the light within to knock back her enemies. There’s also Dolphin, an oddly named warrior who could easily take Frankenstein in a fight. No matter who you choose, you got a fun brawler, though it would’ve been great to have a few others. Maybe down the road.
The gameplay isn’t as varied as Streets of Rage 4, but it’s pretty nice with some of the power moves you possess, and they come in handy as your screen consistently fills up with freaks that want to put you into the ground. Story Mode is the best place to start, but Arcade Mode, with its consistent waves and challenges, will keep you coming back for more. It’s good fun, especially with a friend tagging along in co-op. This game was made for two-player brawls.
I also enjoyed the boss battles, which were varied and interesting enough to keep me coming back for more. This includes a Poison Ivy wannabe who’s tougher than she looks, as well as a waitress that packs a mean surprise for those that inquire about it. No matter which path you take, trouble awaits, and in a good way.
The game’s presentation is great as well. While the animation is a little close in nature to Streets 4, Hero Concept nails the theme with well-done attacks and varied enemies, along with some excellent backdrops. The comic panel cinemas are a lot of fun too, making up for their lack in production value with good storytelling. The music’s not bad either, and the sound effects and minor voicework hit the spot, too.
Again, Mayhem Brawler isn’t quite the greatest of games, as it still comes to a close too early, even with its branching paths. But it’s got some great ideas and fun gameplay, especially when you bring a buddy along for the ride. It’s a monstrously good time considering its low price tag and a fun brawl for fans of the genre. Now do the monster mash! It’s a way out smash.