The Switch already has its share of indie platform fighters like Towerfall, Retimed, Little Triangle, and soon, Duck Game. Joining those ranks is Paperbound Brawlers, a game with just the right combination of flair, fluidity, and variety to establish itself reasonably well within the genre.
Gameplay is the most important part of this genre, and it’s where Paperbound Brawlers absolutely excels. Combat plays a dominant role in each of the game’s modes, so it’s good news that it works so well. Sticking to the game’s notebook aesthetic, your stick figure fighter can lob ink bombs, throw scissors, and swipe with an oversized pencil to down enemies. One-hit kills are the norm, so skirmishes are fast. Adding to the game’s sense of speed is your ability to invert your character’s gravity, which allows you to essentially fly across the field to get the drop on your opponents or escape a sticky situation. The result is a chaotic scene of characters launching themselves all over the map amidst the constant threat of scissors, bombs, and pencil-sword fights.
Traditional deathmatches have a spin to keep things extra entertaining–once a player reaches the number of kills needed to win, they have to reach a designated exit somewhere on the screen. Everyone else is still active at this point, and if they manage to kill the player, the portal disappears until that player gets another kill. The added intensity from this mechanic is no joke, and it means players will always have that critical last chance to close the gap. Reaching that exit can be tough–when playing with friends, I had a few matches where I won with four kills more than the number needed to win.
Aside from the unique take on deathmatch, there are a few modifiers as well as some fun extra modes. Modifiers allow you to toggle the presence of items, how they can be replenished (if at all), and let you tweak a few other gameplay factors. Other modes are fun as well–the game offers classics like survival, juggernaut, and capture the flag alongside a gravity-defying soccer-type minigame. All of these modes are fun and spice up an already-great game.
Paperbound Brawlers is a multiplayer game at heart, though it does have the much-appreciated option to play against competent AI opponents. This is still good fun, but it of course does not match the intensity of couch multiplayer. There is a campaign, but it only consists of basic matches against AI opponents, mixing in different modes and settings to showcase the game’s many options. Essentially, this really isn’t something you want for single player.
I greatly enjoyed my time with Paperbound Brawlers, and it will absolutely find a spot in my multiplayer rotation, which is getting harder and harder to do as the eShop lands more and more great titles. It’s no Towerfall, but it’s a solid platform fighter, and its tight gameplay, multiple modes, and unique traits do more than enough to justify a purchase for fans of the genre.
A review code was provided by the publisher.