Developed and published by Hero Concept, Mayhem Brawler is a tough side-scrolling beat-em-up. This genre has had a big lift in recent times with the success of Street of Rage 4, and when you think of side-scrolling beat-em-ups you think of that and Final Fight as the stand outs – most others are just considered clones. In some sense, Mayhem Brawler has taken steps to come out of their shadow and stand on its own two feet, though you can still see the many nods to those that came before.
You play the part of a supernatural police task force called Stronghold. You have a choice of 3 officers: Trouble, Dolphin and Star. Trouble is an average skilled werewolf character, Dolphin a slow powerhouse mutant, and Star the quick telekinetic female officer. You start by seeing a comic strip of sorts of your 3 characters talking about being on patrol. Down the side is a twitter-like feed of the officers reacting to the public messages which is a nice take on things. But what begins with trouble at the docks then unfolds as the fate of the city is in your hands.
The graphics are nicely detailed. The character models feel big and bulky but don’t dominate the screen. The background music has a steady accompanying beat which although isn’t as memorable as other games of this genre still blends in with the action nicely. The action is very similar to others of this genre. You can walk up and down the plain of the levels. Each character has their own attacks, combos and special attacks. You can grapple the enemy and throw them about. But what I haven’t come across before is that you can block. It seems such a standard thing but I don’t remember being able to block in a side-scrolling beat-em-up before. You can here though, and boy is it needed.
This game is pretty tough on its normal setting and I couldn’t finish the game on 2 attempts. I had lower it to the easier Cadet setting to be able to complete the game. But it didn’t feel much easier, it’s just that I got a few more lives to get through it. This is mainly because of the supernatural element of the game. Other than the standard thugs you come across you also come across otherworldly beings like vampires, telekinetic beings, hulking mutants, wererats and even were-crocodiles which I find extra challenging. Most of the enemies and bosses have some pattern you can work with and you can’t just spam certain moves as you will soon get caught out.
The special attacks in this game are done in a different way than I have seen before too which is refreshing. The special attacks consume their own bar and so you don’t lose health by using them. You restore your special attack bar by picking certain items like energy drinks. There are standard food items found in breakable items as well to regenerate your health. There are also weapons strewn about the levels too which you can use a limited amount of times before they break. Rather than knocking the weapons out of their hand as you knock them down, you have to defeat the enemy before they drop the weapon.
The key thing I like about this game is the storyline. It is played out like a cartoon/comic series and every time you finish a level you are presented with more comic strip voiced dialogue and a choice on how to progress. Each choice takes you to a different level so there is some replay value in playing it again and picking different choices to see the other levels. There are also 3 endings to discover so you have to pick the right options to be able to get to the different endings.
The sad thing about Mayhem Brawler is that it is offline co-op only. It does allow you to play 3 at a time for real mayhem action, but having online play would have been nice to play with friends or even strangers to take on the harder difficulties.
Mayhem Brawler on looks only seems like a standard clone of a side-scrolling beat-em-up. But there is more than meets the eye and that is not just because of the supernatural setting. The story variation with the choice system and the comic strip storyline does make it interesting. It really could have done with online co-op mind, as playing this alone is very tough. Even having a block to use didn’t make things much easier, and it’s something you’ll need to get to grips with quickly if you’ve much hope of completing it.Become a Patron!
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox Series X/S. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.