A dumb joke actually turns out to be a very fun game.
An ‘80s action movie joke is at the core of Broforce and at face value, it doesn’t seem like it can possibly hold up. This shooting-focused platformer is filled with dumb explosions, insipid plots, and a variety of pop culture parodies with “bro” thrown into the name. So, as you try to take down enemies and liberate areas with bombs, you’re controlling Rambro, Brodell Walker, Ellen Ripbro, and MacBrover. The silliness quotient is high, but thanks to the fact that every bro plays differently, the level design is good, and the multiplayer hilarity is ever present, Broforce survives its goofy premise and comes out to be a fun, ridiculous game.
Each level is split up into smaller segments where the goal is to survive to the end where you then kill a final enemy and escape on a helicopter as everything blows up. At first, you can only play as Rambro, but POWs are found throughout the levels that, when rescued, add another life to your stock and every so often unlock a new bro. Every bro is introduced with an absurd splash screen and you then play as them right as you unlock them. While a bulk of them boil down to some form of gun with a grenade, enough variety is found in these characters that it makes everything more engaging. MacBrover just tosses dynamite, while the Brominator has a powerful rail gun that knocks you back as it is fired. Each new character leads to a delightful moment of discovery.
Regularly after that discovery, you die because this is a game of one-hit kills and you’re probably not used to that bro yet. Thankfully, you respawn relatively quickly as a random bro from your collected assortment. Early on, everything’s a lot more exploratory as lives are easy to build up and the challenge isn’t as punishing. About halfway through the campaign, things get a lot harder, which occasionally makes the random bro mechanic get a little tiring. It also doesn’t help that running out of lives during a level has a little bit too long of a load time. The loading isn’t that bad in the grand scheme of things, but it’s just enough of a burden to slow down the mayhem too much.
Occasionally, some challenge levels focus on specific bros, like one that hinges around MacBrover’s dynamite. Those changes of pace are nice. The levels across the board are fun, especially thanks to the destructible environments and increasingly ridiculous settings and setups.
In addition to playing the campaign in single-player, which I primarily did, you can also tackle it locally or online with up to four players. Both of those experiences worked great, though I’d give the slight edge to playing it locally. The best way to play Broforce is by soaking all the zaniness with a few bros of your own. An arcade option just lets you play through levels without any semblance of story as well, and a competitive multiplayer mode has some fleeting charm to it.
My time with Broforce followed an arc of first loving the concept, then being exhausted by it before coming back around and loving the blend of nonsense bro jokes and amusing gunplay and levels. This all works best with a bros playing locally, but even if you’re playing solo (brolo?), Broforce is still a fun romp.