Utilizing the Early Access pipeline has created several success stories in the indie space. While it’s a great way to slowly get a name for your game while also continuing development, it’s also an incredible chance for a community who has fallen for your game to reach out and give feedback. Brotato is one of those successes, with an “Overwhelmingly Positive” rating after nearly 35,000 reviews, and with its reasonable $5 price point, it’s already reached 2 million units in sales.
With all of that positive feedback and sales success, Brotato already speaks for itself in a lot of ways, but with the launch out of Early Access and into its 1.0 release, the solo developer on Brotato—Thomas Gevraud—looks to “appeal to a very specific niche of people by combining mechanics from a few different genres.”
Brotato has the arena shooter gameplay of Vampire Survivors mixed with the character and item mechanics of The Binding of Isaac. While the depth of a game like this isn’t necessarily there, lacking a story or anything outside of bettering each run against alien hordes, Brotato makes up for those deficiencies with a focus on adrenaline-pumping gameplay and its different builds that can be mixed and matched with each refresh.
As you begin a run in Brotato, you’ll be given the choice of several different heads to latch onto your potato body, each giving different bonuses to categories like HP, damage, or more specific areas like harvesting or engineering. After making that initial choice and having some sort of idea of the build you’d like to work with, you jump right in and start beating back the mass numbers of aliens coming after your starchy body.
“Staying as simple as possible, with an extreme focus on gameplay over everything, Brotato leans into those arcade influences to keep you on the hook from run to run.”
Stuck in a basic square area, you simply rotate and move around the map avoiding the enemies’ attacks while dealing damage back in various ways based on the items you collect. Staying as simple as possible, with an extreme focus on gameplay over everything, Brotato leans into those arcade influences to keep you on the hook from run to run. The lack of arena variety is a bummer, but all in all isn’t enough to ruin the rest of the experience.
Enemy types are similarly lacking in variety, as aliens basically just bulk up when they hit harder and take more damage, with the only real exception being that some aliens shoot back at you while others may charge at you in an attempt to hurt you quickly. While the basic design and mechanics of the arena and enemies allow you to know exactly what to expect from each run, some more choice would really have rounded out the package.
After getting past those few downsides, you really get into the meat and potatoes of Brotato when you jump into builds with Brotato’s roguelite mechanic, which is where you get to start really having fun with the gameplay you’re participating in. Deciding between close-up attacks or fighting from the range is a decision. Focusing on unarmed punches, guns, knives, or more magical devices are choices, and all of these can combine in really interesting ways depending on how you want to play and what items fall to you in the randomizer.
Engineering, for example, is a fun route to take, where the ability to lay turrets and mines is amped up, taking more of the actual combat off of your shoulders as your devices do the bulk of the work. Some items allow for life stealing, others amp up your abilities and stats, while some even make magical trees appear more often that you can destroy for extra materials to spend at the wave’s end. Everything is relevant, and the player choice and flexibility are outstanding.
Brotato does everything you could ever want from a game that’s so reasonably priced. While you will only really find mechanics you’ve seen done better elsewhere, and the game lacks in a few categories, Brotato finds itself in the unique position of taking those various mechanics and creating an addictive title that most will enjoy, even just for a few runs a day. The lack of depth brings the title down a notch, but for fans of pure, arcade-like gameplay—where gameplay reigns supreme—Brotato will be for you.