Speed Brawl describes itself as a combat-racer; the steampunk lovechild of Sonic the Hedgehog and Streets of Rage. Thanks to its gorgeous animated art style and fast paced, momentum-based combat, it delivers on this promise with buckets of style and personality.
Following a beautifully animated intro cinematic, you are introduced to Ebba and Bia, the first two of six unique brawlers you will unlock throughout the game. Speed Brawl’s tag team mechanic adds to the flow of the game’s combat, allowing you to switch characters mid-combo and mix up your fighting style with a secondary character. Dashes, wall jumps and pole swings among your flurry of punches and kicks make for fast, frenetic combat, and the addition of triggerable traps and impressive, screen-clearing special moves allow you to dispatch foes with efficiency and style.
Consisting of four leagues, you work your way up from the underbelly of this dystopian London to prove your team as the best fighters in town. The villains and allies you meet along the way are all distinct and well written, with plenty of personality, humour and creative cockney rhyming slang. Additionally the game’s anime-inspired art style is expertly realised and its colourful characters and bold combat effects pop against the earthy tones of each stages richly detailed background.
The core championships hit a well balance difficulty curve, providing the right level of challenge as you level up skills and unlock new gear. An array of side content in the form of challenge stages offer both gameplay variety and an opportunity to accumulate more experience, gold and gear. From the combatless Sonic-inspired pole races to the rage challenges which have you building a combo to fill a rage meter, these challenges are a welcome change from the usual formula of the core levels.
The key to any good combat-centric game is a system which is easy to learn but hard to master. And if you want to get gold in every championship and challenge Speed Brawl has to offer, you will have to perfect the game’s deceptively deep and nuanced combat system. Gaining momentum is easy, but maintaining it with speed, efficiency and style is where the true challenge lies. However for those seeking some arcadey fun, the game does a great job of making you feel powerful and skillful even with a base understanding of its mechanics.
Each character within your roster has their own feel, skill tree and special moves. Each combination work together in a unique way, and finding your prefered pairings adds another layer of personalisation atop gear and skill loadouts. A variety of enemy types which force you to think on the fly and adapt your approach keep combat engaging, and some intense boss fights ramp up the challenge further. The path from your initial training in the Tenpenny league to becoming champion of the Crown league takes a good 10 hours, and with a wealth of challenge stages and the immense task of getting gold in every event that time is easily doubled.
The addition of both online and couch coop makes the high-octane brawling action all the more hectic. Blasting through challenges in couch coop is great fun, and despite the onscreen chaos always manages to remain legible. The challenge is however scaled, requiring you both to be on top form if you are going for gold, but the difficulty remains accessible for pick-up-and-play sessions with a friend.
Speed Brawl stands out among countless other games of its ilk. Its unique and refined combat system makes maintaining flow and attaining gold an addictive and compulsive pursuit, while snappy writing and a beautifully illustrated art style bring its world to life with personality and style.
Speed Brawl PS4 Review
Speed Brawl stands out among so many others games like it. Its unique and refined combat system makes maintaining flow and attaining gold an addictive and compulsive pursuit, while snappy writing and a beautifully illustrated art style bring its world to life with personality and style.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using base PS4.