Released: 2018

Format: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Indie fighting games are quite difficult to pull off well, which is why so many go for a heavily stylised approach to the genre when they do. Cruz Brothers doesn’t try this and goes for a very simplistic battle system and a graphic novel story mode to distinguish itself instead.

cruzbrothers01
Graphically poor, the game struggles to have an identity of its own

Cruz Brothers has some large issues fundamentality at its core. Each of the characters on the roster has exactly the same button commands and can only deal a couple of three-hit combos at most, a special move, a block and a run. You can chain these combos up together, but fundamentally the button presses are all the same. That means that character nuance is nearly non-existent. Instead, each character has different HP, damage and special attack points which gives characters the tiny nuances they do have. That does also affect some of their timing but the characters aren’t entirely well balanced. Some special moves are simply faster and more damaging than others so with little else to distinguish the characters, you choose those over and over.

It doesn’t matter though because the game suffers from input lag and that’s the cardinal sin for a fighter game. It also doesn’t seem to recognise some button presses altogether. To add to the frustration the camera in the game loves to chop to an up-close slo-mo of a combo. It’s disorientating and annoying – particularly if you are only being hit because it didn’t recognise your button presses. It’s like rubbing salt into the wounds.

cruzbrothers02
The 2v2 mode is interesting but the swooping camera makes keeping up with proceedings difficult

It’s a shame then that Cruz Brothers does get some other things right. The story mode is so terrible its good again. Think Karate Kid with bad swearing, worse acting and terrible sound looping. It’s like watching a guilty pleasure z-movie but the actual comic drawings that flick through are done well. Beyond story mode, there are simple championship matches and then the 2V2 mode which is great in theory but ruined in practice because as two people start combing the other two, the camera just flies from slo-mo to slo-mo and confuses everyone involved.

The last head-scratcher is how the story mode and other things are locked with an arbitrary XP system that means you can’t just play story mode – you have to duck in and out other things sometimes to just keep going. I’m sure it’s just a bug at launch, but when other non-story mode fights offer 90% less XP – I’m not prepared to grind out a terrible game to amuse myself at how badly put together the story mode is.

Positives

  • 2v2 mode is somewhat entertaining and reminds me of a Double Dragon free for all
  • Story mode is so bad its good again (if you like that thing)

Negatives

  • Input lag is huge
  • Character roster has no diversity as all inputs for all moves are the same
  • The slo-mo camera zoom in disorientes and frustrates
  • Graphically poor
  • Some woeful sound looping means audio peaks and bleeds out
  • Frame rate issues
  • Expected to grind to unlock more of the same thing

Conclusion

Cruz Brothers has some heart and soul, but it is woefully lacking technically and sound be sadly avoided at all costs.

A copy of the game was provided for review – you can see some of my video footage below.

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