Brutal platformers are basically small levels with tricky jumps and an emphasis on speed. Mr. Bree+ delivers 60 levels of gameplay, but with a far more forgiving difficulty curve than many of its competitors.
The concept is simple, you play as the titular character, running and jumping through 60 progressively more difficult levels. As you waltz through the early stages, you will collect various abilities to aid you such as wall jumping, double jumping, ducking and sprinting. Each level also has a bonus collectible item to find which is usually in a tough to reach spot. Collecting enough of these unlocks the more difficult stages later.
Mr. Bree+ is best described as a mashup between Super Meat Boy and Toki Tori. There is less of a focus on speed and momentum, allowing you to take your time and work out the best way to deal with a particular problem. It also has frequent checkpoints so you don’t have to replay the level from the start if you should die. This makes completing the game considerably easier than Super Meat Boy, by borrowing the reduced difficulty, slower pace and level design from Toki Tori. The levels themselves usually involve avoiding spikes, either on the floor, walls or flying through the air. Levels also contain camouflaged traps such as pits or nets that fall from the ceiling, as well plenty of moving platforms.
Aside from the core stages, the game packs a plethora of achievements which involve collecting items, completing stages within a time limit and without dying, as well as a few pointless ones such as watching the end credits all the way through. In general, they do add an extra challenge if you found the main game too easy.
The game doesn’t control nearly as smoothly as games like the aforementioned Super Meat Boy, or others like They Bleed Pixels. This is likely down to the slower pace, but most certainly a lack of polish on the way Mr. Bree handles. For example, since double jump and wall jump are the same button, he often doesn’t quite know which one to do. Add to this occasional game freezes, Windows 8 compatibility issues and odd bugs like starting a level lodged inside a wall, or a gate not triggered open properly if you press the switch in a certain way, you have a disappointing number of annoying bugs to deal with as well, albeit rarely. These should be relatively easy to fix, but no word as of writing on an update.
Mr. Bree+ has a plot, but the developers really tried too hard and got a little too ambitious (Slavery? Really?). The sorts of emotions they try to convey simply do not hit home for several reasons. For starters, the game is just too simplistic for any sort of serious storyline to be taken seriously. Secondly, a lot of the text appears at the bottom of the screen during the game, most of it is missed because you’re too busy concentrating on actually staying alive, the text also disappears so fast that you wouldn’t be able to read it anyway. Even if you did get the chance to read it, you will find many grammar and spelling errors and just bad English in general.
The visuals are a mixed bag, with some elements shining while others drag the experience down to the point where it affects the gameplay itself. For starters, the character animation, for a budget title, is simply wonderful. The character sprites are fully animated, along with impressive stylised artwork in the cutscenes. Level design assets are less impressive, with most of them being static and having little variation or consideration for making something aesthetically pleasing to look at. Lastly, the biggest flaw with the graphics by far is that the framerate is locked to 30FPS, which is an absolute travesty for this genre of game.
Audio also has its ups and downs. What few sound effects there are come through as mundane and generic, as well as having little variation despite being used repeatedly. On the other hand, the soundtrack is awesome, I mean REALLY awesome. The soundtrack alone is worth the asking price for this game, in my opinion. The soundtrack is not available through Steam, but can be found on Bandcamp for $1.
In summary, Mr. Bree+ is an inexpensive introduction to this particular platforming sub-genre. The budget price is justified by the various quality issues, but is fully competent at what it does and the effort that has been put into the presentation shines through in many aspects. A delicious pork chop, even if it does get stuck in your teeth on the way down.
~Balanced and steady difficulty curve
~Good visual presentation for a budget game
~Plenty of content, good replayability value
~Several unnecessary and annoying bugs, glitches, freezes
~Framerate locked to 30FPS
~Disappointing boss fights
~Embarrassingly bad plot