by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Defend the garden
The garden is being overrun with slimy purple slugs. Absolutely disgusting. It is up to you and a partner to come together to eliminate the threat. Grabbing a thorny vine (or bramble) and stretching it between you both, you cut down the slugs like a horizontal guillotine until the threat is cleared. Working together is of the utmost importance in BrambleLash, as you’ll have to co-ordinate your movements so that the connecting bramble can destroy the enemy slugs whilst keeping out of harm's way.
BrambleLash is a game that is best played with a friend or a group of friends. Playing as a flowery character, either alone or with up to three friends, you take on the plethora of slug-like creatures taking over the gardens. The single player version tethers you with a robotic drone. The drone is primarily static, but can be pulled closer or switched position with the player in order to navigate the surrounds. But the fun of the game is playing with a friend and moving your way through the levels together. Of course, the teamwork aspect of coordinating your moves with a friend can make the game tougher, but if two players are in sync, then BrambleLash is hugely enjoyable.
BrambleLash actually comes with two modes – Adventure and Battle. Adventure mode takes you through three different seasons. Each of the three seasons (of five or six levels) plays out largely the same, with the same range of slug-like creatures appearing throughout the seasons. Despite this, the level design and the visual aspect of the different seasons gives them a different feel. After eliminating the slugs, they will spawn ghostly sprites that can be collected. When playing alone, these are largely inconsequential, but when playing as a team, they act as life-savers. Upon dying in a team scenario, respawning will cost five sprites and will reduce you score at the end of a round. Despite it being a team game, there is still some individual aspect within games. The player who collects the most sprites is deemed the winner of the round. Collecting sprites also seems to activate a power-up flower, which grants one of a range of fun short term bonuses.
BrambleLash pits you against a small range of enemy slugs. The standard slugs are easy kills, but there are fast slugs that chase you, standard slugs that spit, fat slugs that explode, fat slugs that shoot fireballs which destroy your vine, and a spooky slug that attacks like a bull if left unattended for too long. At the end of the each season, a boss battle takes place. These massive slugs are tough to beat until you work out their patterns, but are hugely rewarding once defeated.
Battle mode plays similarly but instead of eliminating the slugs as is the case with Adventure mode, players must try and eliminate each other in this local multiplayer mode. In a way, the Battle mode plays out like the single player version of Adventure mode, as each of the players is linked to static drone. Battle mode is actually the tougher of the two modes as the human competition is generally less predictable than the AI opponents, making for a more fun game. After selecting a battlefield to play on, players must destroy their opponents three time to be named the winner. Games with three or four players can get quite frantic as the fluid co-op team system allows you to partner up then break ties for a tactical team reshuffle. It certainly works well as a party game.
Visually, BrambleLash is quite vibrant throughout the isometric-style levels. The settings are designed to represent the season that battles take place. Spring is all lush and green, Autumn (Fall, for you North Americans) is full of brownish-orange leaves, and Winter has a snowy aspect filled with white and greys. The enemy characters stand out with the various shades of purple whilst the four playable characters are represented with bright colours, setting them apart from everything else. Sprites and bonuses are bright and appealing. The game also makes use of some relaxing classical-style music. It gives the game a light and enchanting feeling, which matches the visuals perfectly and keeps the mood upbeat whilst not being too overbearing or repetitious. The game is limited with its sound effects, but those that the game does have, are clear and fit in with the overall ambiance of the game.
Better with friends
BrambleLash is a fun game, especially when playing with a friend (or a couple of friends). The Adventure mode is rather short though, offering just the three seasons with five or six stages per season. I certainly would have liked to see what Summer would have entailed. Each of the locations has a varied design though, requiring different strategies despite the lack of variation in enemy types. The boss battles are rewarding, and combined with the Battle mode, increase the replay aspect of the game. Controls are simple, with just a couple of buttons that activate power-ups and switching positions with the drone, allowing anyone to pick up and play without an issue. BrambleLash won’t create any real lasting memories, but is certainly fun to play with a group of friends.
Colourful, great with friends
Adventure mode is rather short and a touch on the easy side