Steam Cleaning #14: Brawlhalla

Platform fighters have long been my favorite multiplayer genre… okay, Super Smash Bros. Brawl has long been my favorite. The rest are pretty good. When I found Brawlhalla in my library with only six minutes played (and no memory of playing it), I wondered what stopped me. Was six minutes even long enough to experience what the game was about?

Answer: Yes. Six minutes was plenty.

Brawlhalla is a cartoonish platform brawler with a good bit going for it. It has characters in it from popular media, a huge roster, charming art, and a plethora of weapons that alter the fighting style of the player. In my first matches, I even found that it has pretty good combo potential, as one blow led into another with ease.

At least, I assume it was with ease. I was the one getting comboed. The final score was something like 20 to -5.

In later matches I held my own, but I never managed to get past the one crippling problem: The game feels like garbage to play. No move has weight, attacks don’t aim like I feel they should, knockback feels wildly inconsistent, and the hitboxes are all over the place.

Button mashing doesn’t work given the aforementioned combo potential, but focusing on the moves doesn’t feel right either. My default strong attack with a bow shoots directly up for no reason. Another attack might send up at a forty-five-degree angle. Nothing feels intuitive or strong or like it has an identity to it, and even when I figure out what the attacks do, the timing and hitboxes feel sloppy and janky.

The game has a tutorial. It does not help. It only teaches what button does ‘light’ attacks and what button does ‘strong attacks,’ how to jump across or through or along platforms, and that damage makes foes knock back further.

I’m breaking my rule here. Steam Cleaning is about cleaning out my Steam Library. I realized after five matches that Brawlhalla was a free-to-play game, and thus is not an intrinsic part of my Steam Library. It does not require an hour of my time.

A counterpoint to all this: I had no trouble finding matches. Som people are clearly enjoying this game. I will not be one of them.

Verdict: 25 minutes was enough. Go play MultiVersus if you want a free-to-play platform fighter.

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