The Indie Brawler You Need to Play – Bounty Battle Review

Months ago, a game caught our eye during a sizzle reel at a game conference. The conference itself is long forgotten, but the game was burned into our minds. Bounty Battle is a brawler that takes characters from all of your favorite indie games and pits them against each other in an all-out battle to the ‘death.’ This is not the first time that we have seen or played a game like this but Merge Games introduces a lot of cool features into the traditional brawler formula.

So you may be asking, how did all of these characters end up in the same world? It seems as if a supernatural event created vortexes that pulled each character from their respective game world and gave them special powers (outside of the ones that they already possessed). Every fighter is fighting for control over the universe, and because of this, everyone has a bounty on their heads.

A New Twist on Familiar Gameplay

With games like Super Smash Brothers, PlayStation All-stars, and Brawlhalla, we are very familiar with this gameplay type. Bounty Battle adds a few things to shake up traditional brawler combat. The first thing that you will notice while playing this game is that there is a literal bounty on each character. As you defeat opponents and perform combos, you earn points for yourself, and the bounty on your head increases. When you are defeated, your personal bank of points decreases. Those points also decrease when you continue to spam the same move over and over again. This will force the player to add some variety to their playing style if they want to have an advantage in battle. Once you earn enough points, you can spend them to summon a minion that will assist you in battle. Each character has their own minion that acts independently and attacks the various opponents on the field. This minion leaves the field once your character is defeated.

Like with any fighting game out there, there are a few different modes that a person can choose from. You have the standard local versus, the training room, a challenge mode, and a tournament mode. Most of these are your standard fare. The tournament mode has players fight through 5 different stages with various challenges. Upon completing each stage, you are rewarded with a new skin/color variation for the character you are using. If you are playing alone, things can get old quick, but the game does utilize Steam, and it’s remote play feature. With this, you can play multiplayer with people on your friend’s list.

Overall, the combat feels solid. You mainly use two buttons along with the directional buttons for the majority of your combat. There is a lot of variation in play styles among the various characters, so similar button combinations will feel vastly different. I will say that some characters feel a little bit better than others when it comes to combat and animations. There are clearly some characters that had a little bit more time and effort put into their development, and you can tell. As players spend more time with this game, it may start to feel a little repetitive. All of the characters are unlocked at the start of the game, so there isn’t much to chase to extend the game’s longevity. Maybe if there are new characters down the road, this could be addressed.

One of the standout features of this game is definitely the art. There are many characters in this game, and there are from many different game worlds, but Dark Screen Games manages to make each one fit together seamlessly. With the integration into one world, each character still feels authentic to what gamers would be used to from playing each game. The colors are vibrant, and the animations seem fluid in most cases. I know that there are some people in the fighting game community that count frames for every animation. I cannot confirm how solid that aspect of the game is, but Bounty Battle feels really good to play with most of the characters I have used so far. There is a decent amount of variety in the design of each level in the game. Again, even though each character is from a different game, none feel out of place on the boards. The art of the boards isn’t too crazy, which probably helps with this.

Conclusion

Even though I am not the greatest fighting game player, I can say that Bounty Battle is fun to play. The addition of the minion system makes this one of the more unique fighters I have played in some time. The bounty system is something that other games could learn from. It is really cool to see all of these indie game characters get their shine in a brawler. There is a lot of space for innovation with this game in the future. I can’t wait to see what type of characters are introduced in later updates. There are a few hiccups as you try the various characters at your disposal. It doesn’t seem like all of the characters were given the same attention when it comes to development, but some issues can be resolved through patches. The team is actively working on making improvements to Bounty Battle, so I would definitely keep my eye on the game. Despite a few shortcomings, we would recommend you check out the game. It is available for 24.99 USD on the Switch, PS4, and Xbox One consoles and 19.99 USD on Steam.

Final thoughts
There is a lot of potential when it comes to Bounty Battle. The art is great and there are some unique gameplay mechanics. The team is continuing to improve on the game so it's worth keeping an eye on Merge Games.
What we liked
The art style is great!
The characters mesh well in the integrated game world
What we disliked
All the characters didn't get equal attention.
There are still some small hiccups in gameplay
No true online multiplayer
7

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