Legend tells of a place, a place that only the brave may enter. Where halls are filled with the glorious dead and the beer flows like rivers. Each day the warriors clash in gruesome battle, and each night they rise whole once again to raise their tankards in celebration.
This, my friends, is the legendary home of the gods. This is Brewhalla!
This is also the setting for Bierzerkers, the forthcoming team combat game from Shieldbreak Studios. A frenetic, high-energy and characterful brawler set amongst the hallowed halls of the Viking afterlife and currently available on Steam Early Access. Taking heavy inspiration from Team Fortress, Bierzerkers presents a vision of the afterlife that uses quirky humour and memorable characters to bolster solid gameplay that’s quick to understand but more difficult to master.
The heart of Bierzerkers is in the multiplayer, where you and your fellow deceased Vikings team up under the banner of either Odin (red team) or Freya (blue team), then proceed to beat the living snot out of the opposition in either Team Deathmatch or Domination modes. All the action takes place on an appropriately norse-themed map ranging from crashed longships to the brewhouse of the gods.
You can take to the field as one of five classes (more are planned): Raider, Scoundrel, Huntress, Valkyrie or Drunkard, each with its own set of skills and special moves. For the most part the different classes are fun to play and relatively well balanced. However this was one area where some more work was needed as some classes (particularly the Huntress) don’t seem to stack up well against the competition. While this may just be my preferences, I think a little more explanation of each class’ powers might help people make the most of them.
What all the classes do have is a ton of personality. Whether it’s the Raiders fondness for Arnie references or the Valkyries operatic singing, there’s a lot to like in each character on offer. This is helped by a system that improves the apperance of each class the more you use it, customizing your avatar and helping to foster this attachment. Full customization is planned for a later update, with some appropriately savage looking gear soon to be available.
The combat in matches is fast, brutal and frantic. It’s easy to pick up, but difficult to master. So while I never felt completely overpowered by more experienced players, there were always a few more tricks to learn. It’s also an appropriately gory affair with limbs, blood, and severed heads quickly flying in every direction. The gore stays on the funny side though, and fits right in with the setting. In fact, it makes you start to wonder why no one thought of using Valhalla (sorry, Brewhalla) for their game before.
While the multiplayer is a lot of fun, less attention has been paid to the single player endeavours with both the training mode and ‘Survival’ game suffering from extremely poor AI. At one point I couldn’t advance through the training mission because none of the zombies who populate both modes would actually attack me. This is particularly baffling when the bots you encounter on unfilled servers are actually extremely challenging.
This is just one of a handful of minor technical issues which I came across, none of which were game breakers (particularly in an Early Access game) but which I hope get resolved prior to launch.
In the meantime you’ll find me happily brawling in the halls of Brewhalla, even Alpha Bierzerkers is a whole lot of fun, and I can’t wait to see how it progresses in the future.
Now someone grab me a beer!
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