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Brute Is N++ In A Spaceship

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We’ve posted about the work of Michael Manning before, because his main project is a satisfying sounding platformer called Orbit. But games take a long time to make, so Manning has started a smaller, simpler side project. It’s called Brute and you control a tiny ship with limited fuel who explodes on contact with the sides of the levels. It’s just as satisfying to look at and hear.

Here’s the trailer, which uses this music:

I’ve played fifteen levels from across the 50 so far created. The need to conserve and collect fuel was unexpected after watching the trailer above but turns out to be core to the game. The surface your ship glides across is a little slippy, meaning you’ll take a while to slow to a stop if you’re travelling at speed. This allows you to use your momentum to cover distances without wasting fuel, but also means you’ll need to make small course adjustments while travelling to stop and position yourself without crashing.

Everything else in the game is interacted with via your weapons, which for contrast are an infinite resource. You shoot a yellow marker to finish levels, shoot at switches to open laser-gates, and fire at approaching enemies in order to push them into the deadly sides. Those enemies are great, too, expressing personality through simple movements: from seekers who are essentially homing pieces of level geometry, to hunters who can shoot and tunnel through levels to reach you, to flocking yellow arrows that simply swarm towards you.

The game’s devlog mentions that it’s inspired by the original release of N, and that’s obvious from both its sparse artwork and its sometimes brutal difficulty. Where it differs is in its pace; in the levels I played, Brute was less about reflex than about planning, timing, and discovery. I don’t know whether that would change over the course of the larger game, but I’m keen to spend more time with it anyway for small details like the whirr of your engine or the bounce and pop of your bullets.

There’s no publicly playable build yet, but Manning is planning to release the game as pay-what-you-want when it’s done and then, if people like it, expand it with leaderboards, co-op and a level editor. He’s also looking for testers.

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Graham Smith

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