Brut@l is due out on August 9, 2016 from indie developer Stormcloud Games. It will be available on Playstation 4 for $14.99 (20% off with Playstation Plus). Brut@l is a traditional dungeon crawl game with all graphics rendered from ASCII characters. This game is for single player or two-player local co-op.
Brut@l is hard. (Asking for a friend: is there an achievement for number of times a player failed to jump the gap?) My initial impression was that Brut@l felt like an arcade game with a Tron aesthetic. There’s even a score leaderboard feature! In true arcade style, the player has only one life and the game is over when a player dies.
There are four classes: Warrior, Mage, Ranger, and Amazon. The character specializations actually amount to which three skills the player begins the dungeon crawl with. All characters are theoretically able to access any of the attributes, if you live long enough!
Players begin the game with a torch and no weapon. The player clears initial dungeon levels barehanded while gathering plain ASCII and enchanted ASCII to build weapons and enchantments. As the game progresses, players also find armor and potion materials to assist the journey (see weapon-crafting and potion-making tutorials). Food (pizza!) and fruit from trees of life supplement your health, but these become far fewer as the dungeon progresses.
Randomly placed throughout the dungeon levels are “Altars of the Gods” where a player can offer loot. If the gods are pleased with your offer, they grant you an extra life. Extra lives are really pretty great for when you run straight past a gap in the path and die an agonizing death at the bottom of a pit.
Brut@l is fun and the graphics are cool. It was hard enough to hold my attention with mechanics that are simple enough to pick up and play. You can play it straightforward, but there were lots of little tips and tricks you pick up along the way that made the game even more fun and entertaining. Every time I restarted a dungeon it got a little easier and I got a little deeper into the dungeon.
TL;DR: Brut@l is fun, pretty, and a great concept. It’s worth $15, because it’s unique and replay value is high. In fact, that’s kind of the point.
Note: Stormcloud provided me with a copy of the game to play and review. If you’re reading this Stormcloud, you should know my mom called me the day after she got home from visiting me to ask where she can buy a PS4 so that she could play Brut@l at home.