LifeisXbox’s Mayhem Brawler Review |Mayhem Brawler on the surface appears to be an homage to the early arcade classics such as Streets of Rage, The Simpsons co-op fighting, and Double Dragon. The game is created and published by Hero Concept with a traditional take on the side-scrolling beat up as its predecessors. The three main characters fall into the usual protagonist lineup of male, female and otherworldly heroes with what appears to be some unique twists on combat.
ℹ️ | We played Mayhem Brawler for your Two Hours on Xbox Series S. This game is also available on Xbox One and S/X, PlayStation 4/5, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, and Steam.
What we liked!
Fighting Skills | The world of Mayhem Brawler is filled with some colourful characters. The usual ragtag bunch of no-gooders is all here including all of the end-level mini-bosses to face off against. Whichever character you choose to take on the horde of enemies though will see you dish out some pretty satisfying combat moves. Your suite of abilities ranges from your standard punching, kicking, throwing, and grabbing. The general moves can be combined to unleash devastating combos that inflict some massive damage and some pretty impressive moves. There is also a defensive move you can perform which acts as more of a counter-attack by pressing Y. This will send all enemies in your vicinity flying giving you some breathing room. The 2D sprites shine here as well, making the whole package look and feel great to play. There are also some defensive moves to perform that are not found in games similar to this genre. Choosing a specific character displays a different type of defense such as bringing up a psychic shield or puffing out your chest to have bullets and knives bounce off. The defense however is all in the timing and is key to surviving many of the later levels and mini-bosses.
The Replayability | Mayhem Brawler contains a plethora of different modes such as Campaign mode, couch co-op, and Arcade mode. It’s a great set of modes to see you through many hours of gaming, with or without friends. The campaign mode will see you complete it in around 2 hours, but depending on what difficulty mode you play on this may vary by an additional hour or two. The campaign has a set structure to follow and at the end of each level, you are given a choice to make in which route you would like to take to reach your end goal. It’s a nice added touch as this adds to the additional replay value and also gets you to experience new areas, new enemies, and new weapons along with its own set of achievements for that area. Not only this but doing all of this from the comfort of your couch with a friend adds to the nostalgia factor.
Art Style | When making a game that is based on games from the past 2 decades, there is a particular style that comes to mind. Beautiful 2D hand-drawn sprites with simple, but impactful animations make everything seem like you are playing a game from yesteryear. The cutscenes are told from a comic perspective, something that would be seen straight out of a Marvel universe. The bright and colourful style suits well alongside the comic counterpart, bringing cohesiveness about it, ensuring the style meets the same quality as the gameplay.
Adaptable Difficulty | Mayhem Brawler can be a tough game even on its easiest of difficulties. The game does a good job however at remedying this by having a reset of lives at the start of each level. Traditional, games in this genre would give you a set of lives up to a maximum of 9 which would then decrease based on the number of deaths you have. With Mayhem Brawler, you get 7 lives at the start of each round to complete it. They reset once completed allowing you to start afresh level with them all back to normal. Arcade mode once unlocked by completing Campaign mode is more akin to the traditional play until no more lives are left, offering a new challenge to the game once you get your bearings.
Soundtrack| Mayhem Brawler has one of the best soundtracks I have heard in an indie game. Its main soundtrack for each level has some of the best beats and techno music that suits the gameplay. Even the menu has a killer track and just listening to it gets your blood pumping ready to throw down hordes of enemies. For Mayhem Brawler, the sounds are clear inspirations from hits such as Final Fight, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time, and Streets of Rage, all of which have some of the most memorable tracks of their time.
3 Playable characters with little difference | While answering a routine call on a patrol, Dolphin, Star, and Trouble – the most popular officers of the super-powered law enforcement agency, Stronghold- find themselves in a sequence of events that will alter the fate of the entire city. Out of the three characters to choose from though, there is a severe disconnect between the abilities each character has meaning changing your character doesn’t benefit you at all or offer you an incentive to do so. At this stage, it would be cosmetic only to change. Each character can sprint, defend, pick up weapons in the world to use against the enemies, and carry out their normal attacks. At no point with my time spent with each character did any of them offer anything substantially different than the rest meaning, choosing any character will be fine, and it’s just a visual way of telling your players apart when playing co-op.
Can be repetitive at times| As you can imagine the game will get pretty repetitive and given how short the game is, there is very little room for variety. The game has its usual villains but adds Werewolves and Vampires into the mix later on as well. Given the fact that you are part of the super-powered law enforcement agency, it’s not too far-fetched a story here to have these sorts of enemies. You will make your way from left to right fighting waves of enemies until you get to the boss. Defeating the boss grants your access to the next part of the comic and the next level. There are no upgrades, or stats to speak of, just rinse and repeat.
What we disliked
Underwhelming end | By far the biggest issue I had with Mayhem Brawler was its sudden ending. Once completing the final boss, its final act seems very lost and unsure of what to do and where to go, so instead opts to just end with the casual, “Hey guys we saved the day”. Given the fact the Mayhem Brawler has an expanded universe in the form of a comic book, it would have been great to see more from the endings here. It would have been good to see something along the lines of what their comic book counterparts do at Marvel and tie some of the lore into the end to keep fans wanting more. Perhaps a way to introduce potential DLC?
No online Mode | Surprisingly, there is no online counterpart to be found here. Instead, the game relies on couch co-op, however, the Steam version does offer remote play together if or should you have to play online at all.
How long to beat the story | 2 Hours How long to achieve 1000G | 5+ Hours Similar with | Streets of Rage 4, Double Dragon, and The Simpson Arcade Game. The nostalgic feel of old-school beat ’em ups makes these games feel very similar.
Mayhem Brawler is a great beat-em-up that delivers a decent amount of replayability and fun than most other games in the genre. Even compared to the likes of Streets of Rage 4, Mayhem delivers better action alongside an ok degree of level design that is rarely seen these days. The slick animation and comic-inspired art look sharp in-game and in cutscenes. The soundtrack is rock-heavy and good, but not on-par with the titans of the genre. The sound design, however, is strong and better than most beat-em-ups. Mayhem Brawler is a worthy contender for anyone looking to get their fill on their next fix on fighting nostalgia, despite its obvious flaws like an abrupt ending and lack of online multiplayer.
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Gaming is in my blood. Be it handheld games, Xbox, PC, Switch or Playstation, I am all over it.
I make my own games as part of my profession and love playing co op games with friends in my spare time. Avid dog lover and camper van enthusiast.