Over my holiday break from the ol’ day job, I decided that I was really going to take a big chunk out of my gaming backlog. I’m sure a lot of you did the same. I got some of the way there, sure, and there are a couple of games I’m going to write about at a later date. I played some of the games I missed last year that wound up starring on GOTY lists, such as Signalis and the first act of Pentiment. But I had a roadblock. You see, when I would sit at my laptop to start a game, I would think to myself ‘maybe I’ll just play a quick round of Brotato to start with,’ and then I would play more than just a quick round of Brotato.
So what is Brotato? Well, it’s one of the more successful horde survival roguelikes that sprang up in the wake of Vampire Survivors. It’s the third game from French dev Blobfish, aka Thomas Gervraud, all of which are top-down roguelikes starring potatoes. And much like Vampire Survivors, it doesn’t look like much at first glance. Its aesthetic is very much Newgrounds-era flash game, and it is called Brotato. Much more importantly, it scratches that same itch as Vampire Survivors – the instant rush that comes from mowing down hordes of enemies as you transform from the hunted to the hunter – while simultaneously managing to diverge from the formula.
Rather than one continuous assault, Brotato tasks you with surviving 20 rounds, lasting from 20 to 90 seconds. Between each round, you will be able to pick your stat bonus for levelling up (if you did so) and can use your money to buy weapons and items. The way you upgrade and synergise weapons takes a leaf out of another recent genre that was all the rage for a while – auto-battlers. You level them up by merging two identical weapons together, each weapon having one or two categories with bonuses that stack depending on how many matching weapons you have. It’s actually quite reminiscent of SNKRX, a game that predates Vampire Survivors but shares similar ideas.
Over the course of a run, you’re not quite getting to the level of screen-filling chaos of Vampire Survivors (at least not on the first two levels of difficulty) but there are plenty of options for creating an optimum build. It is also a lot of fun to experiment with different characters (of which there are dozens to unlock) and builds, which helps keep things fresh. Like most games of this genre, it’s cheap (AU$7.50/US$5) and new stuff is being added constantly. It’s a great lunchtime gaming snack, though it might end up eating your whole break, leaving you no time for actual food. Maybe save it for when you get home. I’m going to go play more Brotato now.
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