Brave The Video Game Review
A movie game that ignores the industry's precedents
It’s no secret that movie games tend to be awful and rushed experiences not worth playing (although they are getting better). And who could blame developers? At the end of the day licensed games sell for the most part because of the name, not the actual quality of the product. That being said, Brave is actually a solid title that players may want to consider giving a shot. It’s clear from the level of polish apparent in all aspects of the presentation to the game itself actually being fun, developers Behaviour Interactive went to great lengths to do the title justice. Still, the game has some flaws and isn’t for everyone. So read on to find out if Brave is worth your hard-earned cash.
The story presented in Brave: The Video Game is nearly identical to its movie counter-part, occasionally making slight deviations every now and then. Unlike the movie, the story is clearly not the focus of the game, with the short cut scenes that are delivered between each level only serving the purpose of moving the player along. The cut scenes also alternate between hand drawn stylized art and in-game clips, and as expected, the fidelity of these never quite match up to the movie. They serve their purpose though, although one can’t help but wonder if the game could have benefited from the use of clips from the movie. Either way, the story in the game is serviceable and carried out by the voice actors from the movie admirably. Younger players are more likely to be enthralled by the fact that they’re going on the same adventure that they saw in theaters, but for older players this isn’t the main draw by any means.
If I had to describe the gameplay in Brave to someone who has never seen the game before, I would compare it to the likes of Gauntlet or God of War lite. You visit eight different levels that are very linear in nature, fighting off a variety of enemies with Merida’s sword melee attacks and bow ranged attacks. Occasionally the character you play as changes and you’ll be put into the role of Merida’s three bear cub brothers who have to solve puzzles, as well as Merida’s bear mother that involves an arena type of fighting. These diversions keep the game feeling varied, even if the challenges they present are usually simple and lack any difficulty. Personally I enjoyed switching between the three bear cubs to overcome mechanical puzzles, as it was never stressful and reminded me of Lemmings. On a whole the game itself isn’t very difficult until the latter half, but skilled players are rewarded for not getting hit by earning higher money multipliers that give you cash to buy new abilities with. This is a great balance of rewarding skilled play, while keeping the game accessible for younger players.
Other sorts of challenges you’ll face in the game include hordes of evil enemies and some very rudimentary puzzles in the environment. Enemies for the most part are predictable, and will either keep their distance and attack from afar or rush at you mindlessly. The game acknowledges this and compensates by sending dozens of them at you constantly, forcing you to alternate between strafing with your bow and smacking them away when they get too close. There’s also an element system that incorporates the different elements you find throughout the game (such as fire, wind, etc.) and encourages you to switch between them frequently to dispatch of enemies with certain weaknesses. Puzzles are also affected by this element system, and certain parts of the terrains cannot be traversed until struck by the correct element. Elements are fun little sub system that keeps the player from dealing with conflicts in a completely mindless manner.
For a game based on a Pixar movie, Brave: The Game could have turned out a lot worse than it did. The game isn’t perfect by any means, with occasionally dull visuals and sometimes repetitive gameplay, but in the long run it’s definitely an enjoyable adventure. Also the developer needs to be praised for managing to balance the game’s difficulty, keeping it interesting for both adults and younger audiences alike. With eight levels that take about 45 minutes apiece to finish, the length of Brave is just about right, and doesn’t risk overstaying its welcome. Local multiplayer also lengthens the game’s replay value, as well as hidden collectibles that players may want to scour levels for, including different costumes for Merida. If you enjoyed the movie or are looking for a stress free adventure game, you should give Brave a shot. If you have kids who like games and are fans of the movie, get the game right now.