By: Ojogo, Mobile Guru
When a game markets itself as an RPG, I always expect it to be one of those classic turn-based console style RPGs, like Pokemon or Final Fantasy. But more often than not, when mobile games advertise themselves as an RPG these days, you’d usually find a card collecting game wherein each unit has minimal preset battle actions, and they will randomly hit each other while the player just sits back and hopes for the best.
Thankfully, we’ve been seeing a lot of throwbacks to the beloved classic style of true RPG gaming in recent games. And though most still play with minimal control and thinking from players, there are some mobile games breaking from the mold. One such game is Brave Brigade.
Brave Brigade is a 2D RPG by ZQGame Inc. You start off as one of the usual RPG classes: a knight, a healer, a mage, and what is supposed to be an archer but is now a spunky girl with a slingshot. With your typical premise of the character player being the chosen one tasked to fight off evil forces invading his or her land, your chosen hero travels far and wide recruiting, taming, leveling, and evolving creatures and units called “mercenaries” to fight alongside you.
The premise of the game is by the book Pokemon 101 at best, as catching and evolving your units is a big deal and mostly the key to your success in Brave Brigade. How it works is that each unit comes in varying rarities denoted by stars, and of course, the more stars a character has, the stronger it gets. And in this game, most units have access to this evolutionary setup – even your 1 star feeds and creeps.
Reaching the next level is prevented by a leveling system. Once the max level for your star level, you must then fuse it with a corresponding number of same star level monsters, and voila! – your evolvee has been upgraded to the next rarity. Evolved units retain the old unit’s skills (plus new ones), experience, and any enhancements you have given it prior to evolving, which is nice compared to most other games wherein you start from scratch on evolution.
In battle, you fight in a party with a maximum of six members – your sixth being an optional friend reinforcement. This is where the mobile gaming stigma begins, as you have no control over who you target or when you attack. But fortunately, that too is where it ends. Mostly. The battle system follows an active time battle format wherein characters take turns based on their base speed. The same active time also applies to how fast your SP (the meter required to use character skills) recharges.
And what’s awesome about this setup is that you can cast your skills and abilities as soon as the cooldown finishes, and the moves become available – enabling units to act out of their turn.
Another thing that adds more depth to the system is the placement of the units in your squad. In your 2×3 grid, front row characters are granted more power and more movement speed, so they get to normally attack more. Back row characters, on the other hand, get a recovery rate boost on their SP so they get to cast skills and abilities more often. The game also supports attacks that hits a column, or a row as well. The usual setting will be melee and defending units placed in the front, while ranged units and healers will be safely put in the back, but more advanced play would sometimes have you putting battle mages or aggressive rangers in the front, or knights in the back so they can setup their defensive skills faster. That said, Brave Brigade has a lot to offer in terms of tactical gameplay if the player wants to make the most out of the system, though it can be relatively enjoyed as well by one who just goes by with a basic strategy in mind.
Of course, as a free-to-play game, there are some nuances non-paying players can’t escape, and one of those is the ever-limiting energy system. Most activities you do in Brave Brigade depletes a certain amount of stamina – single player quests, daily dungeons, boss raids – even normal PVP.
Some even require that you spend stamina AND a specific item for you to participate in, though it is relatively easy for you to wait for your energy to replenish as the stamina cool-down is actually relatively short and the medals you need can be gifted by friends. But the biggest gripe about Brave Brigade is that everything is dependent on your in-game cash. Leveling your characters require lots of cash.
Evolving heroes takes cash. You even need to buy your hero’s skills. And the price of these upgrades quickly rise into the thousands. And what makes this system absurd is that in most things you do, you only earn up to a measly 2-300 gold per battle. Even if you do get a perfect 3-star score in your battles, gold is still very much hard to earn, and your need for gold to improve your team and your units isn’t proportional to the rate you’re getting it.
It means that the only real way for you to keep up and be competitive in this game is through in-game purchases of gold. It’s evil, since the game is addicting, especially for an RPG enthusiast drunk on nostalgia, but we have to remember that this IS a freemium game, and though a subtle yet devious way to harass players to shell out cash is a sin, Brave Brigade is not actually the biggest offender.
But other than that, the game is solid and very much enjoyable. The art style and direction is very reminiscent of the classic and massively popular Suikoden 1 and 2 games, with their spirited units, pseudo-3D interactions, and a 2×3 grid setup. Character evolution is designed so that you actually look forward to the upgrade as your sprites get a complete physical overhaul. Any given evolution results in a ten times cooler looking character.
There seems to be a plot as noted by the slideshow animation of CGs after every boss fight, but since it’s textless, that story isn’t really clear. I don’t think that matters much as the main point of the game is always in the battles. Each battle requires you to finish it within a certain amount of time. Finish the stage under any condition, you get one star. Finish it with your team intact, you get 2. Finish it with no one dying within the time limit and you get the perfect score of 3 stars.
That coupled with the increasing difficulty in the game and the partial randomness of the battle system actually makes any RPG fan out there a hungry, bloodthirsty perfectionist.
Conclusion: Great (4/5)
Brave Brigade, despite its weaknesses, is a worthwhile download and one of the more decent iterations of the RPG genre in recent history. The comfort curve is quite steep once you get far into the game, but it’s nothing a little dedication and maybe a few bucks to spare can’t compensate for.
On a side note, we have a decent giveaway live to help ease new players into the game, snagging some extra gold and characters to get you to your power house team that much sooner.