To loot and plunder; to fight demonic forces from beyond; to throw yourself into hair-raising scenarios with reckless abandon. This is what it is to truly feel the thrill of adventure. This thrill is the promise of the best action movies and games. The promise of great fun. The promise that Bravery and Greed makes with its premise and genre.
This is a promise unfulfilled.
From developer Rekka Games, Bravery and Greed is a roguelike adventure that can be played either solo or in co-op with up to four people. The tale is a simple one: an adventurer hears rumours of great riches hiding in a dwarven vault. Telling his three comrades about it, the crew decide to set off in search of the vault. And so, the Rogue, Warrior, Wizard, and Amazon begin their quest for riches untold.
Story-wise, that is all we get. Given the simple nature of Bravery and Greed, a story that serves solely as a framework for its core gameplay is serviceable. However, with recent narrative achievements from other titles in the genre—say, the lore of Rogue Legacy 2 or the highly reactive dialogue of Hades—the lack of something more is a tad disappointing. Regardless, this setting allows players to focus on Bravery and Greed’s main appeal: the adventure that lies ahead.
Now, I should clarify: those opening three elements aren’t quite unfulfilled promises. Looting and plundering, demonic forces, and a tendency for recklessness are indeed present in Bravery and Greed. However, it does not take long for each of these elements to feel a tad underwhelming. Take the loot. This roguelike sports a gear system that, to its credit, is simple and easy to use. Different pieces of gear come from chests, usually after particularly tough rooms of enemies.
Each bit of gear sports different effects, and adjusts gameplay accordingly. Gloves give extra damage and elemental effects, amulets offer protective boons, boots impact your mobility options, and wands will gift you a nice magical super to unleash every so often. Godly boons of Life, Chaos, Order, and Darkness are also ripe for the picking. These boons and gear come in a variety of flavours, and there is some build variety to be had if your spawn luck is good. However, this variety soon outlives its novelty. After a decent amount of experimentation, I found the Life tree of boons to be mildly broken. Pairing the skills and benefits of the Life deity with even one piece of vampiric gear all but negated most of Bravery and Greed’s difficulty. By the end of one Life-heavy run, I had more potions, boons, and outright health than I knew what to do with.
This issue is somewhat addressed with the class system. Bravery and Greed allows players to take control of the aforementioned Rogue, Warrior, Wizard, and Amazon. These classes function how you’d expect. Swift with daggers and a bow, tanky with a big sword, ranged with spells, and both tanky and agile, respectively. Yet, even these classes don’t really add too much variety. The differences between the Warrior and Amazon are minor, with the latter being far more fun to play due to her increased agility. The Rogue is reliable, the Wizard boring. Yet, all classes but the Wizard play almost exactly the same.
Combat in Bravery and Greed is primarily against trash mobs of skeletons, wizards, and wolves. These are enemies you’ve seen a thousand times, and will see a thousand times more in a single run here. There are different special moves between the four classes. Visually interesting combos can be strung together with these moves and looted spells; pulling off an intricate string of cuts and casts is satisfying. A Soulslike stamina bar adds some tension here and there, and there is undoubtedly hectic fun to be had in every encounter. AI helpers, usually in the form of freed wolves, are good for drawing aggro, allowing you a moment to pause and take stock. You can even pet the wolves, which is nice.
For all its efforts, though, combat also falls short. To start, for all its attempts at diverse combos, Bravery and Greed ultimately throws too much at the player. In any regular fight, there is far too much visual noise between spells, projectiles, and enemies themselves. Even our canine helpers get in the way of clarity. If this is a problem in single player, which I played for this review, one can only imagine how cluttered things must get with a full co-op party. Said clutter also blends together fairly quickly. There is respectable enemy variety for the length of each dungeon, but enemies between dungeons undergo little to no change, save for their colour palette. Perhaps worst of all, the majority of combat relies heavily on the classic three-hit combo, and that is undoubtedly what felt most solid in a pinch. Combo availability is nice, but it’s hardly ever worth the effort.
Boss fights only aggravate the problem. Bravery and Greed offers four bosses, one for each biome, before the end boss in the dwarven vault. These are a wildly mixed bag. The first boss’s main attacks don’t blend well with the dodge roll, which sends the player flying too far to take advantage of the precious attack window. The second boss floats, and is a pain for any class that isn’t the Rogue with his bow. The third was a tree stump, and the fourth was a snake with exactly two moves. These bosses are not memorable, and have rudimentary mechanics, which only exacerbate and highlight the game’s rudimentary platforming and movement.
This is to say nothing of the finale bosses, who have movesets that feel dull at best and cheap at worst.
Despite slippy physics and imprecise movement, the level design still manages to be a highlight. Biomes are basic, but offer simple and fun puzzles to solve, providing a small break from frenetic combat. Progression never feels too meaningful, but it is paced well. Each level is a comfortable length to actually get through multiple of them for a whole roguelike run. In this, at least, Bravery and Greed finds some semblance of balance.
I just wish it were greedy enough to try and achieve that balance throughout. This roguelike certainly offers a brave effort, but it’s not one that will be etched into legend any time soon.
Sarim played Bravery and Greed on PC with a code provided by the publisher. Bravery and Greed is available on PC via Steam, PlayStation 4 and 5, and Xbox Series X|S.