Cruz Brothers comes from DCF Studios and tells the story of a boxing trainer driven to revenge following the death of his protege at the hands of a ruthless biker gang. Unfortunately, inconsistent hit detection, a muddled art style and woefully imprecise controls leave this prize fighter on the cold, hard ground.
Right from the title screen, the game’s visuals jump out for all of the wrong reasons – landing somewhere between cel-shading and cartoony but with a weird sense of realism, everything from the comic-book style cutscenes and one on one fights features characters that resemble action figures left in the sun too long. Backgrounds look blurry, and animations for fighters look like they’re being hit with cattle prods as opposed to moving their limbs of their own volition.
No one is a winner with animations like these
If there is one thing you want in a fighting game its balance, and Cruz Brothers seems worryingly determined to ensure difficulty ramps up regardless of the player’s ability. While the first fight against a chain-wielding biker makes sense, but just a few fights later you take on “Dying Joe”, a man somehow capable of sending a powerful burst of energy out of his chest – in a game about the use of boxing training to get revenge, adding superhuman opponents such as this makes things incredibly tedious. In one match, I managed to pull off a 6 hit combo (through pure luck), only for my biker opponent to hit me with a 42 hit combo out of nowhere. While the story mode forms the bulk of the game, there is a two player mode but all that does is inflict the suffering on someone else.
Cruz Brothers’ difficulty doesn’t just stem from it’s lack of balance, however. The game’s controls seem to fight the player at every turn. Unresponsive and sluggish, no punch thrown feels intentional. Other times fighters simply move through each other and the sound of fighters inhaling and exhaling is a constant nuisance rather than conveying the technique of each strike.
Sons of Casper Motorcycle Club
The aforementioned comic book style cutscenes are the way the game tells its overly masculine and testosterone-induced story, but cringeworthy dialogue throughout means that even if the artistic direction was more focused you’d still struggle to invest yourself in the story. Side characters are one-dimensional and there is little to no motive or character given to the main antagonist.
This is worryingly not the worst dialogue in the game
All of this wouldn’t be so bad if the game didn’t take itself so seriously. A ludicrous narrative played off for laughs would have been an improvement but the game’s gravelly-toned voice actors seem to feel compelled to overact, calling to mind the soliloquy of the Max Payne games while offering none of the atmosphere, plot or character development.
Its fair to say, then, that Cruz Brothers is not a particularly refined game. Game play is unbalanced, imprecise and downright ugly to watch, while the story is a generic tale told through a lens of poor animation and sub-par voice acting.
*This honest review was given in the exchange of a review copy of the game*