If you had told me that I would’ve been spending the first quarter of 2024 spraying bullets from the mitts of a gun-toting spud in a 20 Minutes Till Dawn-like utopia, then I probably would’ve called you a liar. It’s a concept that’s so unorthodox, even, that I think I speak for everyone when I say, you know — what on earth were you thinking, Blobfish? Needless to say, as far as shoot ‘em up video games travel, Brotato is certainly one of the weirdest, but equally, and oddly enough, most memorable things to grace the system all the same. I’m conflicted, truly.
Brotato is a weird one, I’ll give it that. But, if you manage to wipe away the oddness of it all, then you’ll come to find that, without so much as a warning, you won’t want to leave its grasp. It’s a simple game, for sure, and one that doesn’t stretch much beyond what it initially showcases on the box. Having said that, it is a fun game, and one that, in my short time as one of its many, many potatoes, gave me more than enough to come back to — even when the gameplay felt like it had exhausted all of its options and grown a little tired of flexing its own colors.
To put you in the picture, Brotato is a top-down arena shoot-'em-up that essentially plays out like a typical bullet-laden shooter. Its goal, really, is simple: kill the enemies and aliens that sprawl into the battlefield, and acquire more XP and shards to unlock additional weapons, upgrades, and pick-me-ups for future waves. And that’s about it. Again, simple, but strangely satisfying nonetheless.
Lock & Load, Spud
The preliminary phase of the game is all rather simple: you choose from one of five characters (or, in this case, potatoes)—blob-like combatants who each come loaded with a unique selection of stats and perks, such as additional HP, Attack Speed, or Dodge. There are only the five characters to choose from to start out, with dozens upon dozens of additional troops to unlock later down the line. But aside from that, there are a select amount of weapons to choose from, including knives, SMGs, and even a wand, for crying out loud. Armed to the teeth with a blob and a weapon of choice, you must then enter an arena that essentially spawns a wide array of enemies from all corners of the battlefield. The objective: kill, and live to fight another wave with even more weapons and perks fastened to your core.
What’s different about Brotato is that it doesn’t enable a manual aim option right off the bat. Rather, it does all of the shooting for you, which means, as a player, all you really need to do is move around the arena and dodge oncoming bullets and other projectiles that enemies send your way. Aside from that, it’s merely the case of capturing green shards to earn XP, and defeating tougher opponents to unlock extra perks and in-game pick-me-ups.
Tournaments in Brotato are divided into an infinite series of waves—sixty-second bouts in which you must survive long enough until the final grain of sand hits the bottom of the hourglass. As for how you choose to spend these short bursts of energy during each wave is entirely up to you, but in order to progress and obtain better loot, you must eliminate as many foes as humanely possible. And that’s, you know, easy enough.
The Whole Hog
Although you’re only able to utilize one weapon to begin with, the game does allow for you to bolt on a total of six, all of which fire simultaneously whenever you approach a swarm of enemies. As the rounds progress, and your XP continues to clamber on, new weapons become available, allowing you to mix and match your arsenal and find a sweet spot that suits your play style. Whether it’s a bunch of melee weapons or a laser gun-and-wand combo, each custom set pretty much offers a different rate of fire and outcome. It’s your duty, as the gun-toting fighter, to sift through the goodies and find a six-piece loadout that has the raw power to annihilate the next wave.
Aside from the weapons, players must also spend shards on a slew of upgrades, too. Between each wave, you will have the opportunity to boost certain base stats to aid your performance out on the battlefield. For example, a set amount of shards can boost your overall HP, but at the cost of missing out on another, more combat-focused perk, such as Attack Speed or Critical Hit. Simply put, the more waves you complete, the more chances you’ll have to add new skills to the board, as well as a spool of better weapons to bolt onto your primary wheel.
In a typical rogue-lite fashion, Brotato proceeds to get easier with the more matches you play. As weapons, characters, and other components are carried over after each death, you can begin a fresh round with a lot of the items you had acquired in a previous one. In other words, you’re always making progress, even when you fall in battle after just a few waves. So that’s a plus.
Simple, Yet Effective
Gameplay-wise, there isn’t a whole lot to write home about, as it is, more or less, restricted to one or two buttons and nothing more. With the shooting already being taken care of, the only thing you really need to do, weirdly enough, is move. A bit disappointing — especially considering that the arenas in question don’t exactly cover a lot of ground. Sure, you can add a backdrop to the arena, which effectively makes it slightly more appealing to the naked eye, and you can add a manual aim option to give you a bit more control over your targets, but other than that, there just isn’t a whole lot to see or do.
In ways, Brotato is a game that you could, with a bit of patience, play for extended periods of time, mainly down to the fact that it stands in receipt of numerous characters, weapons, and upgrades. Having said that, it can also become a little flat after a few rounds, what with there only being the one standard arena to work with and what have you. For those looking to set a few scores and claim bragging rights, however, the incentives can often be bountiful, and quite frankly, enough to keep its target demographic slugging through for hours, days, and perhaps even weeks on end.
It’a a simple one to judge, in ways, as it isn’t a game that’s bulky enough to disassemble and reconstruct from the ground up. On the contrary, it’s a one-and-done sort of gig, and it doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not, nor does it store any additional content behind any form of paywall or unreachable milestone. It’s all there, and it’s surprisingly complete — and that isn’t something many games in this day and age can brag about, to be fair.
Let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room: Brotato is a weird game, and one that, in spite of its lack of depth and complexity, I will remember. It’s also something that I’d happily return to — especially if I happened to find myself at something of a loose end and without a full-fledged campaign to chew into. Granted, I can’t say that it’d make the top of my to-do list, but I would, if the opportunity presented itself, knuckle in on a few waves just to pass the time and try my luck with the arena’s latest combatants.
I’m certainly not about to say that this is “Game of the Year” material, or even go as far as to say that it’s capable of setting a new benchmark in the arena shoot ‘em up genre, either. But I will say this: Brotato is, in spite of its flaws, a genuinely entertaining game. Sure, it doesn’t offer all that much by way of gameplay or added content, but it does make do with the limited amount of tools in its possession. And to that, I say, you know, well played, Blobfish.
If you are looking for an opportunity to showcase your ability to adapt and maneuver just a smidgen, then Brotato is likely to be a good enough spot to flex your skills. It’s simple, engaging, and, when all’s said and done, an easy peeler that tastes better the deeper you carve.
Brotato Review (Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Switch, Mobile & PC)
An Easy Peeler
Brotato isn’t the most complex arena shooter in the world, but it is, in spite of its lack of depth and originality, a genuinely entertaining and engaging shoot ‘em up chapter that boasts its own array of quirky characters and customizable components.