Battle Brothers is like a turn-based Mount & Blade, except someone ate all the horses and now everyone hates everyone else. Cue lots of hacking and slashing and various limbs being chopped off. In other words: a pretty good time all around.
Leading a group of mercenaries through a procedurally generated low fantasy world, you’ll travel the land in search of work, growing in notoriety and reputation, and doing your best to thrive in these hostile times. What starts as a sorry little mob of thugs can turn into a mighty warband. Likewise, small skirmishes turn into huge battles along the way.
Managing your units and equipment while traversing the world map is one important element, but the real fun begins when swords are drawn and arrows are nocked. The turn-based battles certainly pull no punches, and many a severed limb (or ear, for that matter) can remain on the battlefield if the odds are not in your favor.
Units don’t have enormous amounts of hit points, either. Two or three well-placed hits and you hit the dirt. This means that the slightest tactical error might have dire consequences. I cannot remember the last time I shouted and cursed at a turn-based game, but here we are. It’s pretty intense, okay?
Permanently losing one of your battle brothers, carefully groomed and all decked out in nice equipment, can feel disastrous indeed. But the game wants you to make the best of a bad situation and move on. This actually works, and it perfectly fits the grimdark medieval setting.
Still, battles are fun, offering a fair amount of tactical options. The battle map’s boardgamey look feels weird at first. However, after a while it grows on you. Besides, the stunted, grumpy-looking player tokens you’ll move around the battlefields actually convey a lot of information at a single glance: apart from a unit’s equipment, you also see injuries and the like.
Instead of a fixed campaign, you have a relatively open world to explore. However, later in the game, crises are introduced, disrupting the existing power structures and introducing new, powerful threats, such as undead armies rising from their graves or a war between the game’s different factions.
Battle Brothers offers quite the challenge, but patience pays off when you try to be the best damn mercenary band in all the land. It’s a shockingly good game.
You can purchase Battle Brothers from Steam for $29.99. For more information, visit the game’s website or follow developer Overhype Studios on Twitter.