Drunk, and disorderly. Shagging the princess, and ignoring the commands of the king. This is the life of Braveheart. A warrior with unmatched skills in skull crushing, and with a sweet tooth for mead. Braveheart gets to live another day, but he now has a mere month to find the Holy Grail.
The story in Braveheart is told in cartoon stills, and it sets a quirky mood. The game is mission based, and you have a map showing your progression. Previously played missions can be accessed, and there is the option to go hunting instead of following the story. This is sadly needed, as there is a lot of grinding required to progress. Grinding or DLC… And there some readers stopped reading. Leveling up, and getting the money to purchase better gear takes forever after the first 20 levels. Buying 5.000.000 Gold through DLC is cheap at $0.99, but I don’t like that it is more or less mandatory to progress. When I hit that wall of too hard opponents/too weak weapons I had 50.000 Gold. The next upgrade for my weapon was 110.000 Gold, and about two hours of grinding away.
The gameplay in Braveheart is all about slaying the enemies. The perspective is that overhead style we have seen a lot in twin stick shooters. Instead of relying on those proven controls we get a fresh take on overhead action games. Braveheart has two attacks: ranged and melee. There are also two control methods available: stick and swipe. I will start by describing the swipe. The ranged attack is sadly not suitable to the game as it forces you to stand still using swipe controls. Many enemies use magic that target your position, and thus you are vulnerable using ranged weaponry. The controls are good though letting you aim with one finger, and tap another to fire. The main weapon of choice is the melee weapon, and these controls let you twirl your fingers to rotate the morning star or sword. Initially I really enjoyed these controls, as you have to keep twirling to not loose speed and attack power. After spending hours with them I want to have a button instead. Furthermore this twirling looks weird, and from a far it looks a bit like foreplay. To control Braveheart using the swipe controls you simply swipe, and he moves.
The second method lets you have a stick for control, and a button for ranged attacks. You still have to twirl for melee, but this can be done using the thumb. These controls work better for ranged attacks, but less so for melee as it gets harder to keep it flailing.
Each mission in Braveheart lets you kill a set number of enemies to fill up a kill bar at the bottom. Most missions throw multiple waves at you. To survive there are a lot of pickups to be found: both offensive and defensive. There are a also perks to use in a perk menu. These let you change the tide of the battle. As the difficulty increases the usage of perks becomes more important, and there are quite a few to choose from.
Upgrading your character also affects the battles. The categories to upgrade are flail(melee), crossbow(ranged), vitality(life), mastery(critical hits) and wisdom(experience). In between missions you can visit merchants for weapons, potions and special perks.
The presentation in Braveheart is excellent with cool visual effects, nice drawn story images and a good flow in the battle animations. There are quite a few cool enemies to slay, and for once the bestiary feels inventive. Sound effects are suitable to the game, and there is a dark ambient sound track setting a brooding mood.
There is quite a lot of content in the game with both story missions, and the option for hunting for goodies. Openfeint and Game Center integration cater for achievements and leaderboards.
The need to use DLC to progress feels wrong, and grinding isn’t fun using any of the available control schemes. The battle in itself doesn’t feel like it relies on skill, but rather on using the correct perks and weapons. Furthermore there are quite a lot of menus in the hub of the game.
In the end my initial love for the controls turned into a meeh, and now they feel tiresome. I sadly have to conclude that to be able to fully control Braveheart I would like to have the twin stick shooter setup, and not having to twirl ever again.
I recommend you to try the lite version of Braveheart to be able to try a new take on top down action games.
Also available for iPad as Braveheart HD $2.99