It's no secret that here in The Alley we are huge fans of the Turkish developer Hero Concept and their excellent beat 'em up, Mayhem Brawler. So, it is no surprise that we are super excited when we see the sequel, Mayhem Brawler II: Best of Both Worlds, being announced yesterday. The game will come to all consoles and PCs when it arrives next year, bringing eight playable characters, and more than forty enemies to fight against, and the most interesting part of it, two different timelines, which will take a look at in a moment.
There was a huge graphical update, when compared to the original game, with more detailed characters, better animation, and amazing lighting effects. They still have that comic book character feel that was so pleasant in the first game, but now they show way more detail and personality. The biggest change here is in the backgrounds. Gone are the hand-drawn semi-static backgrounds. In Mayhem Brawler II, all backgrounds were created in 3D, but they still maintained the comic-book look, so the 2D characters in no moment look out of place in the 3D scenario.
Converting 2D to 3D was an interesting choice. It gives the game a depth that, otherwise, you would perceive so easily. Enemies now can come from alleys and from behind buildings, giving the feeling that the world is alive, big, and filled with dangers hidden from your view. It is a nice change of pace, no longer you can expect enemies only from the left or the right, now they can come at you from all directions, and you better be prepared.
As we said before, the game will count with eight playable characters, and from the last game, only She Wolf will make a return. The other seven characters are both new or bosses from the last game, like Beast Master, Voidova, and Enchantress. In the version we played, only She Wolf and Stellar (Star's mother), were available, and we can say that the game feels very different from the first one. And that's some really good news.
First of all, your character now has two main attacks, a light and a heavy one, while in the first game, you had only one. You also have your jump, with all the aerial attacks and combos you can wish for, a block button, a special button, that can be used in two different ways, more on that later, a run, a button to pick up items on the floor, and a grab button, to get hold of those pesky enemies, which is yet to be implemented in the game.
Having two main attacks for each character will obviously change a lot how you will approach the game. You still can plow your way in using only one attack, but if you really want less trouble from your enemies, you will have to combine both attacks in a very satisfying string of attacks. In Mayhem Brawler II, you can combine freely your weak and strong attacks, creating all types of combos you can imagine. More than that, certain combinations of attacks, will trigger certain moves, like throwing the enemy in the air mid-combo, so you can beat him in an aerial fashion, or simply to take him out of your way while you go after someone else.
Another interesting mechanic in the game, that will keep you on your toes every time you play, is that, while the enemies will always spawn in the same places, they will not always be the same. There's a certain randomness to their spawn values, so every time you play, a set of different enemies will come to you. It is an incredibly fun addition to the game because, while the enemies will always be in the same class, you never know exactly who will come to get you, so you will have to have multiple strategies to face the many enemies here.
Now let's talk about the different timelines and why this is important, innovative, and quite possibly one of the coolest things we have ever seen in a beat 'em up. For context, the game happens in two different historical periods, the present, and twenty years prior. In the version we played, we weren't able to pick the level we wanted to start, so we started in the present, at She Wolf's rally. She's now running for Mayor of Mayhem City, and things seem to have gone a little bit wrong with an explosion mark right in the middle of the screen. We don't know what happened, but sure it wasn't fun and she is pissed.
If you notice in the UI, you will see a yellow bar below your health and special indicators. This bar is your Time Transition bar and it fills itself up as you beat your enemies, just like your special bar. Once filled, you just need to press LT+RT and the magic happens. Instantly, without delays or loadings, the scenario begins to change, taken by a dreamy cloud, and before you notice you are playing in the past, with Stellar 20 years before. And no, you won't restart the level, you are taken to the past, but to the exact same point as you were moments before. The enemies on the screen will all change to their past version too. It is an incredibly fun system that allows you not only to explore two places at once, but let you change character in the blink of an eye, and can even have some strategic applications, letting you avoid some of the enemies that you find more annoying.
While it feels fun, and in all honesty, something very cool to play with, it was unclear in this version we played if this mechanic would have a purpose, or if it would be just a fun gimmick to show the power of modern beat 'em ups. But while talking to the lead developer, Serkan Özay, he assured us that the Time Transition will have an impact on the game's storytelling, also, it will heavily change the pace of the game. Boss combats will also be affected by it. Here, you won't be able to Time Transition at will. Those will happen automatically when the boss changes his state after losing a certain amount of health. This will allow the player to experience two different bosses each time, transitioning back and forth as the boss loses their health. This mechanic also, and this we could experience ourselves increases a lot the replay value of the game.
Mayhem Brawler II: Best of Both Worlds, feels like a breath of fresh air over the beat 'em up landscape. The combat, while still needing some adjustments, after all, we played a very early alpha build, feels extremely promising, with huge possibilities of combos. The combat feels solid enough, allowing not only specific combos but also a more freeform style of combat giving the players a lot of freedom when beating the living heck of your enemies.
By the way, the developer didn't promote this video, but you can easily grab the link by visiting their site right here. Just don't tell them we find this workaround! XD
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