Not only were strategy fans left to solve the quagmire of Afghanistan last week, but the equally brutal Battle Brothers lumbered out of its stint on Steam Early Access on Friday. Because there’s clearly not enough you could be spending doubloons on.
I’ve had a right old time with Overhype Studios‘ gorgeous mesh of Mount & Blade’y overworld RPG-meets-tactical hexer during its earlier days still lodged in the forge. Players are tasked with managing a band of hard men in a dark, low-fantasy world; marching from place to place, taking jobs where a mercenary mob can and seeing fit that wages are paid, steins are refilled and men make it through the day.
It’s a game of brigand ambushes on lonely roads, maces to the noggin and fantasy without the cheese.
For a game that takes the bust-ridden aesthetic of Unity of Command and feeds it through The Black Company, the tactical encounters have a brutal timbre for a turn-based strategy. Every hit made on a character degrades them with sickening impact and requisite wounding. At the end of a battle, the victors stand atop a carpet of bodies and blood. Where body count in something like Total War passes into abstracted farce with its carnage, Battle Brothers keeps this ghastly enterprise one of solemn survival. It’s a testament to incredible art and wrought iron difficulty.
If you’re in the market for fantasy a little more Dog and a lot less Denaerys, and deep strategy in a dark world is how you like to spend your time, Battle Brothers is an emphatic recommendation.