REVIEW: Crawlers and Brawlers

As the old adage goes, if you’ve played one procedurally-generated dungeon crawler you’ve played all procedurally-generated dungeon crawlers1. You’d be tempted to think the same of Ugly Beard GamesCrawlers and Brawlers ($1.00). And you’d be right to, in a sense, yet also, not. The game reminds me— in a good way— of a handful other retro-ish hack n’ slash dungeon crawlers on the service, including games like Lootfest and the excellent Cursed Loot.

It’s certainly familiar in a lot of those usual, ‘bullet point on the back of the box’-y ways; archetypal heroes (think mage, knight, etc.), plenty of pixels, said procedurally-generated dungeons that task you with killing everything in sight and eventually toppling some big baddie end boss, all the while RNGeezus-ing you with new loot2 to build up your character and increase your base stats. Throw in a change of scenery and blocks of dialogue, rinse and repeat to the end, and hopefully you enjoy yourself along the way.

And you should, because the formula still works. Crawlers and Brawlers gets most of that right. There’s a decent range of attacks and magic tricks to use no matter what class you pick, tied to your character’s agility and an RPG-style leveling system that changes based on the gear and weapons you have equipped. The dungeons are linked together with a massive overworld that’s populated with NPCs (some that need your help, natch) and plenty of hidden nooks to explore by land and by sea. The game allows for local co-op, and there’s even an online multiplayer offering that lets you battle against others with your high-level characters (just don’t expect to find any matches, because XBLIG).

Sure, you’ve done the whole ‘land overrun by monsters and town held captive by evil-doers’ thing before, yet the mechanics here are solid. Though the trappings may be a tad unremarkable, the game’s story does its best to keep things fresh, including some unorthodox encounters and fights (there’s a ‘museum’ bit with the boss’s health tied to you breaking rare and precious artifacts that’s pretty funny).

Crawlers and Brawlers - Screen

Crawlers and Brawlers works best when it’s showing off that humor, and even better if you happen to have a buddy next to you for co-op dungeoneering. In fact, the lone mark I have against the game is the fact that the dungeons themselves can be a major slog to go through by yourself, punctuated by hundreds of dull fights and dead ends as you search for the next floor or exit.

That’s what you should logically expect with procedural levels, yes, but it’s still worth mentioning. So maybe don’t mind the repetitive battles (so much). Or maybe do, with the promise that there’s something better on the other side. It’s still a charming and well-crafted adventure from start to finish3, worth it for the unique boss fights and dialogue alone. And with XBLIG on its way out to pasture, you may not find another new game4 quite as good as Crawlers and Brawlers again. Buy it. Play it.

  1. Don’t bother googling that. It may or may not be an adage, and it may or may not go the way I say it does. Just go with it. 
  2. As a known Destiny addict, the game’s loot is even color-coded according to Destiny‘s rules; green for uncommon, blue for rare, and purple for legendary. Well-played, Ugly Beard Games, well-played. You know what’s good for me. 
  3. It’s a pretty lengthy game, by the way. About ten hours total in my playthrough; surprising for an XBLIG. 
  4. Well it was new, three months ago when I started writing this. Yeah, sorry about that. But hey, the game is still worth your while no matter what time you’re reading this. 

13 thoughts on “REVIEW: Crawlers and Brawlers”

    1. Yep. It had been a month. Or two. Or three. 🙂

      As long as it’s not ‘Sexy Island Adventure 2, Sexy Exorcist 2, Sexy Flight 2’, or any combination of ‘sexy something’, I’ll be good.

    1. You are welcome! I’d say Crawlers and Brawlers is a more involved game than Cursed Loot, but the mechanics and the flow of battles (for me) felt about the same. If you’re a fan of that game like I am, you should definitely enjoy this one, even if that combat tends to be repetitive over a long period of time.

    1. Oh I’m just the type to surprise people, I guess! All good surprises take two or three months to plan! So XBLIG isn’t dead1; it’s just far, far, behind schedule. Oh… wait, I’m just talking about myself here. :/

      1. Not as of now, it isn’t. New games / old game updates weren’t going through, but as of tonight, that’s been solved. So yeah, if anyone’s looking to download a few games and / or demos, better get on it. No idea how long it’ll last this time! 
  1. 3 months to write your review (cough cough blog post)? You are slowing down in your old age. 😛

    Put down that Xbox One controller and write stuff for us to read already!!

    I’ve actually been spending more time on my One lately but only thing is I’m not playing games. Just deleting BC games, GWG games and those I have purchased the remastered versions on the One.

    The controller feels strange in my hands and the 360 seems slow.

    1. Hey, hey, hey, hey. Stop throwing all that ‘blog’ stuff and ‘old age’ stuff around! 😉

      But I know, I know. I’m sorry. No excuses for that. But… I do owe you the credit. Seeing you juggling streaming and writing up reviews of your own finally got me off my butt to get this one finished. So, here’s some sincere Thanks! from me to you…. Thanks! 🙂

      Oh, and you are absolutely right about the 360’s slow-as-hell performance. I guess I got used to the One, because yeah, it was like watching paint dry going through the menus.

    2. Awwwwww now I feel bad for saying ‘blog’ and ‘old age’. Glad it motivated you some though. I’ve enjoyed reading your reviews for years years and it was missing in my life and I’m really glad it’s back even if it was just this one for now.

      Don’t feel bad however, I’m a week late on my latest and hoping to finalize it today but works got in the way.

      I did almost buy Block Ops and if I knew for sure we could get the group together to play it I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to do so even if it was only once. (hint hint)

    3. Ah, no harm done, of course. I owe you guys more than I say for sticking around this place and keeping me (somewhat) involved. Besides, even WordPress insists on calling it a blog, so there’s nothing to be done about it. 😦

      Yeah, it gets hard keeping a set schedule for things, especially when real life events get in the way. I give you and everybody else over at The Hidden Levels mad props for keeping things going at a regular pace. Combining the two (streaming and written articles) is no easy feat. It’s definitely not something I think I could do, so cheers.

      Oh, I get the message, and I did buy Block Ops last night. 🙂 If you guys are around, we should try to find some time this weekend for a few games, either Saturday night or Sunday night. Might even be a few others online looking for matches.

    1. No problem, good sir! I’m only sorry it took me until now to actually write it all down and tell you guys how fun it is. 😀

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