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Bricky To Me Review


Is ‘Roguelike’ in the Oxford English Dictionary yet? There’s certainly a case for getting it in there. Over the past few years, it’s become one of games journalism’s most well-worn words (Souls-like would probably be the other one). For good reason, too: there’s hardly a game genre that hasn’t been put through the Roguelike sausage machine to see what comes out the other end. 

Well, you can add ‘2D budget platformer’ to that list, as Bricky To Me is the latest sausage to emerge from the roguelike machine. Coming from QUByte Interactive, a relatively young Brazilian outfit who have been pumping out games like there’s no tomorrow, it’s an experimental game that tries to append simple platforming to a dungeon run. And while you can see the outlines of what might have been, the version we have in our hands doesn’t really work. 

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That’s not to say that it doesn’t have nice touches though. It feels like the designers pulled random elements out of a hat when creating the basics of Bricky To Me, and it’s nicely off-kilter. You play a dwarf who is armed with a – dip a hand into the hat – boomerang, and he’s able to – dip again – shrink himself with potions. Um, he’s helped by a cosmic cat who can teleport him to other sides of the arena, and the bosses aren’t really bosses, they are – hat again – games of Space Invaders. It really does feel like it’s been made by a Random Platformer Generation Machine. 

All of the above meant that we were immediately endeared to Bricky To Me. Sure, it doesn’t look or sound particularly great (the home decor was clearly done by a builder who was looking to offload some terracotta bricks), but the wide-eyed dwarf and his cute cat, alongside the vague, amorphous blobs that are a common enemy, are all fun enough. 

The controls, too, do a pretty good job. There’s just the jump and a boomerang as default abilities, but the jump does everything you would hope to, as you pull off reasonably precise jumps across spikes and onto moving platforms. The boomerang does that fun Kratos thing where you can move after you’ve thrown it, and it will arc towards you, slicing and dicing everything as it does so. It’s a nifty, versatile weapon, even if it’s not overly imaginative. 

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There’s an asterisk here, as one of the game’s two enemies (yes, two – and we’ll get to that in a moment) is a bat, who oscillates towards you and is surprisingly hard to hit with a boomerang, since you have to wait for it to return if you miss. But hitting the bat is vital, as it drops essential fish that you need to sell for coins (yep, pulled out of the hat again), and getting hit by them is virtually a death sentence. So, fifty percent of the enemies in Bricky To Me feel poorly chosen for the weapon you have in hand. 

So, controls are on point, the general set up is on point. But everything else is so extremely limited that even the £3.29 price tag starts to sound expensive. 

You start each run in a kind of castle hub room where you can buy healing potions or shrinking potions; sacrifice a heart to your cat to gain its help; or jump into the dungeon run. On your first few runs, by the way, we’d recommend offering one of your three hearts to the cat: it’s less a power-up and more an in-game hint system, and having it around is valuable for your subsequent dungeon runs, as it will highlight secret rooms and blue coins that will also be there on future runs. 

And so your journey begins. It’s constructed out of single-screen platforming rooms, where your aim is to collect a key and move through the door that the key unlocks. There are two enemies in the way, namely a bat and ooze, and – at least, as far as we’ve discovered – there are no others. Considering the ooze is such a non-threat that we have never, ever lost a heart to one, it makes the offering here ridiculously thin. Even some reskins would have at least made us feel like we were progressing. 

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There are the usual spikes and platforms, as well as Bricky To Me’s neat approach to switches. Hit one, and half of the level will reposition, moving bricks wholesale to construct new staircases, blocking walls and more. So, you’re recalibrating to a new level with each hit of a switch. It’s a brilliant idea, and the visual effect as the blocks realign is snazzy too (although we could have done without the distracting ‘rebuilding’ effect that occurs as you move around the level). 

But it’s rather undermined by the level algorithm, which doesn’t have enough levels to play around with. On roughly your third or fourth run, you will begin to see the same levels. The pattern of switches will get lodged in your memory, and it becomes abundantly clear that this is less procedural generation and more a library of levels that’s skeletally thin. Bricky To Me will mirror some levels to try to hide its limitations, but you won’t be fooled. 

What surprises most is that progression doesn’t really happen as you move up the levels. You can reach level twenty or so, and still be getting the levels from the opening sections. It’s a playlist of about twenty songs, and the songs weren’t that great in the first place. Some levels are so benignly easy that you could quite literally complete them with an arm around your back. 

Bricky To Me knows this, so adds difficulty in frustrating, anti-enjoyment ways. At certain milestones in the dungeon run, you have to collect a set number of blue coins. These blue coins are only gained from secret rooms in the dungeon, and those secret rooms can generally only be accessed by using shrinking potions or the cosmic cat. This isn’t made clear from the tutorial, so your first run will end in the disappointment of bouncing off a blue-coin door, and being forced to play the right way.

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The opening levels are always disappointing, as you don’t have the coins to buy a shrinking potion, so you have to bypass your first few potential blue coins. Once you have a blue potion, you have to know where the secret rooms are (cosmic cat will help you there), which, again, is a learning process that is initially unsatisfying. But once you know where the illusory bricks are that hide a secret room, you know them forever, and Bricky To Me stops being a challenge. That’s unless you fall onto a spike, which – inexplicably – takes away all of your hearts and rewinds you back to the start of the entire dungeon run. It’s a bizarrely harsh punishment for an otherwise extremely easy little roguelike. 

We can see what Bricky To Me could have been. It’s a proof-of-concept, a pilot episode for what a platformer might be as a roguelike, and it just about does enough to make it seem like a good idea. But there’s no getting round the lack of content and variety in Bricky To Me, which makes it an unconvincing game on its own. Even at £3.29, this is a platformer made with too few bricks.

You can buy Bricky To Me from the Xbox Store

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