Preview: Brisk Square – Swords or Pistols?

You don’t have to look far to see where the inspiration for Brisk Square comes from. After only a few minutes of playing, the comparisons to Pistol Whip come thick and fast. This isn’t a bad thing, Pistol Whip is a brilliant videogame, but the early access state of Brisk Square makes me yearn for a fully completed release or the polished inspiration.

After a brief tutorial – where we learn how to swing a sword, fire a gun and wield otherworldly powers in the form of telekinesis and the slowing of time – there are a plethora of options to choose from. There’s a campaign, with a very loose story, but it’s only two stages in this Early Access build. A dual-wield mode that does away with the gun and hands you an extra sword and multiplayer, which is currently devoid of players, sadly.

The multiplayer option looks to be a great spin on competitive play, where you and four mates can play together, moving forwards in your own lane. Chopping and shooting, as well as outliving the other player’s rewards points, leading to a winner. Hopefully, we’ll have full coverage of this in a future update.

Brisk Square is an ‘on-rails’ action game that propels you forwards, through streets, alleyways and cityscapes. As you move forward, enemies and obstacles will appear ahead of you. To attack, you have a few options; slice them, shoot them, crush them. Really, all I wanted to do was chop them up with the sword. Not only did it feel the most satisfying, but the sword animation is just lush.

The pistol, controlled with the off-hand, feels very underwhelming. Not only does each shot feel like it has no power, and lacks accuracy, but there’s a cooldown on using it again. It’s clear this is in place to urge you into using other options, but it robs the player of any real power. Especially when the spectral powers also have cooldowns to stop you from stomping on everyone.

Thankfully, playing through the game rewards you with XP which translates to skill points and these can be spent on a very extensive skill tree. This improves the cooldowns, gives you extra bullets for the pistol and extends time slow duration. This shows the game has scope and will eventually reach a point where everything comes together in a wonderful cohesion.

However, until that point, Brisk Square leaves a lot to be desired. The music is repetitive; the graphics – aside from the gorgeous enemy models and the blood spatter – are very hit and miss, switching from great 3D models to flat, uninspired textures; on top of these issues is an empty feeling to each level. The odd enemy pops up, shoots a couple of bullets, dies, rinse and repeat. The more persistent, and annoying, threat comes from random barrels which, if not destroyed in time, seemingly kill you by bumping into them.

At this stage of development, Brisk Square is brimming with potential, but it feels like there’s a long way to go. While it does suffer from flaws, it’s clear the developer knows what they want to produce and can do exactly that, given enough time. I’m very excited about the future of Brisk Square, for now, I’ll watch the updates with anticipation.