When I’m assigned a review, I’ll usually take a couple of hours to play through the game without thinking about what I’m going to write. I enjoy the experience for a bit before I start taking notes and organizing my thoughts. It was a bit tough to do that with Brandon Must Die! , though, and I’m happy to explain why.
One of the saving graces of this game is its self-awareness of its similarity to The Binding of Isaac. Brandon Must Die! Is a top-down roguelike that compares itself to The Binding of Isaac even on the game’s main page. The two games are inseparably close to one another, which might be the source of my apprehension to giving this a great review. There’s always a counter-argument to “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but I don’t think this game stands on its own legs enough to stand out enough next to its predecessor. At least the idea that the game isn’t secretive about the fact it’s a near-copy helped me get over the initial shock of the similarities between the two.
Let me start from the beginning. You play as a scientist that’s crash-landed on an alien planet thanks to a lab attack caused by Brandon. You’re immediately thrust into a jungle where you begin collecting your first upgrades to your weapons, armor, and power-ups, and your goal is revenge. Revenge, in this case, takes place by shooting in four directions at enemies with varying degrees of difficulty based on their abilities.
The fun is definitely in the upgrading. I got excited every time I came across a new weapon or piece of armor. It took me a while to get through even the first area because the gameplay itself is as unforgiving as it should be. Each time I got to try out a different special ability, though, I felt like all of those deaths amounted to something, even if that something was completely randomized and lost after my next death.
There are a few surprises to break up the monotony, one of which being the randomized mini-games that show up once and a while. I especially enjoyed playing as a female protagonist (and a scientist!). I’ll probably give it another shot soon just to see stages I never made it to. I’m even happy to report back if my overall experience with the game changes. All-in-all, the game was enjoyable for a time, but didn’t have anything to draw me back in to keep playing.