My Mother, the Bear


If I’m counting right, finishing the “Brave” tie-in game yesterday puts me at 99 games / expansions for the year. In theory, I should have something really cool planned for #100, but at this point it will probably just be Silent Hill Origins, which I’ve been playing off and on during lunch breaks for a week or two.

Brave is interesting because, while it’s based on a property that was heavily aimed at girls, it’s first and foremost an action game, which rather goes against the prevailing wisdom that only boys like action games. There’s a fair bit of platforming – some of it quite fiddly, I’m afraid that Merida met her doom at my hands more than once – but wandering around the landscape is regularly punctuated by needing to insert Arrow A and possibly Sword B into Bad Guys C through Z.

To demonstrate the point a little more: The Disney Fairies game I played a couple of months ago wasn’t much more than flying around and picking flowers that one or another fairy needed for reasons. It was a Game For Girls.

In Brave, you don’t pick flowers. Rather, you hit them with your sword and they spit out coins which you use to buy upgrades to make hitting things with your sword hurt more.

The film didn’t really have a lot of opponents to pull from, so the makers of the game did a quick pass through the Monster Manual and pulled out a few suitably-fantastic monsters for you to turn into pincushions. Then they added elemental affinities to each monster and gave the player the option to alter the elemental properties of their weapons with a button press, with the effect that combat can get very chaotic if you’re facing a mix of ice, fire, and nature opponents – you wind up running around very crowded arenas, dodging explosions and avoiding ground hazards, changing the bow in use based on whatever the thing you’re currently shooting is weak to, trying to built up hit streaks without taking damage because you get a crit multiplier based on streaks…

Basically, whoever thought up the combat system did a really good job at making things interesting.

Oh, and occasionally you get to play as a bear. The bear combat system isn’t nearly as complex – it’s all about brute force and stomping waves of enemies. It’s all very satisfying anyway.

On the down side, it’s a bit of a short game and the occasional story bits don’t really fit all that well. “I just killed, like, a couple hundred dudes and that has taught me the value of family” just doesn’t flow, if you know what I mean.

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