Bravery Network Online is currently in Early Access and already it’s an incredibly competent turn-based brawler. I don’t play many turn-based games for long because, well, I’m not good at them. I’m impulsive and lack the foresight to properly plan a team that isn’t built around my personal motto, “hit hard, die fast.” It’s incredibly worth noting that I played Bravery Network Online for hours when I first sat down to try it out.
Turn-based games generally work the same. You build a team based on attacks and defenses, train them, fight against computers and on occasion other players. Bravery Network Online follows that same formula to the T but manages to add its own unique brand of…quirky? Quirky is an overused word and has started to lose its meaning, but somehow it applies to this game. The art style feels like a callback to a lot of webcomics I read in middle school. Each and every character I’ve come across has made me stop because they all look like the OCs I wanted to draw as a teen. There’s body diversity, hair diversity, gender diversity, and everyone dresses so cool. I’ve never wanted to look like a character sprite before, but now I do.
In terms of actually playing the game, like I said, it functions as any turn-based game does. There are three main stats to watch out for: red physical attacks, blue digital attacks and purple emotional attacks. You can think of the digital attacks as special skills that require gear add-ons to perform. For example, a character shooting fireworks from their hand is a digital attack, whereas hitting an opponent with a sword is straight physical damage. The real fun comes with purple emotional attacks. These feel right at home within the narrative and writing of the game. One of the first emotional attacks used in the tutorial part of the game is Admire. Characters use admire to do damage but it also boosts your players stats. Charm your way through battle. On the other hand some opponents are so infuriating you get…Infuriated, which debuffs future skills and stats.
Bravery Network Online’s strongest feature however, is its writing. From the beginning it’s goofy and breaks the fourth wall. You play as a Becker, a small TV with a goofy expression that the cast of characters don’t hesitate to let you know is just a bit ugly. A majority of the dialogue uses the specific type of tongue in cheek humor that often reads like adults who have forgotten what teens sound like, writing teens. Bravery hits it right the nose. It’s witty and silly and sarcastic without tipping over the edge or tripping over itself. On top of it all, the writing of the game fully lends itself to the more ridiculous aspects of gameplay. Other Beckers sending out challenges or having a team member get hit with an invite to lunch that does lasting damage only works because Bravery Network Online uses such a unique brand of humor.
Despite its Early Access status Bravery Network Online still provides a full experience. It made me want to play turn-based competition games again. For such a simple game, there’s a lot to do and find even now. Oh, and the soundtrack is also amazing. It’s the perfect mix of synth-y pop with a hint of jazzy undertones. The only real issue I had was a few connectivity problems. Nothing game breaking or even big enough to force me to quit my session.
Bravery Network Online is currently in Early Access and available for PC via Steam.