Brunch Club Review
Once upon a time, games were made to work as well as possible, and any janky physics or annoying glitches were the result of mistakes or oversights by developers. Today, as with Brunch Club, janky physics and annoying glitches are the game. Apparently it’s fun.
We’ve seen it time and time again. Goat Simulator and Surgeon Simulator put their awfulness front and centre. The only reason to buy into it is the memes.
Brunch Club isn’t that bad, but it’s at its best when it gives you clear instructions on what to do. Unfortunately, that isn’t even half the time.
Raiding the kitchen
If you were to look at the controls page for Brunch Club, you’d almost think it was easy. There’s really only three things to worry about: possessing inanimate objects, jumping and moving.
In the first level, Toastal Recall, you must possess pieces of bread, get them up to the toaster, and then butter the toast. You possess plates as a ramp up to the toaster, move the bread up the plate, wait for it to be done and then butter using a knife. This is made infinitely harder by the janky physics we mentioned earlier. It’s tough, but it doesn’t feel like it should be.
You have access to a handful of movie-themed levels in which you have to do things as varied as making scones while being chased by the police and making fry-ups under sniper fire. Once you get used to the idea of the game, some of these are great fun.
The issue is that not only is the game hard, but it throws things at you that are out of your control. I could see why losing a sausage down the side of a barbeque might be good fun with a team of friends cheering each other on. But when that same sausage is randomly incinerated just because, it stops being fun.
There is a level where you must make desserts, and that is probably my favourite. It’s all about you. Not about the toaster exploding and throwing all your hard work out the window, but about your skills.
As well as the purposefully difficult controls, you also have to compete with random physics and sometimes poor camera angles. The latter is especially true in co-op modes and makes actually completing the objective needlessly annoying.
Brunch with friends
Brunch Club is first and foremost a game to play with friends. You won’t get much fun out of it on your own. Some modes won’t even be available.
This is fine, because the experience is all about the reactions of those around you. If you have a rowdy bunch of mate’s over, and you’re all really into it, you’ll have a good time. Those are ideal conditions, and let’s face it, those conditions are going to be pretty rare.
That might be a tall order for the £12/$15 it’s available for on Xbox. Unless you’re really confident in your friend group enjoying it, you’re gambling on those near to perfect conditions. My wife and I played it together, both of us really competitive, and just didn’t feel the fun of it. We wanted to achieve, to complete levels as quickly as possible, but in the end it didn’t feel worth it.
I think we were probably playing it as a video game, and not as a party game. But even then, I think probably better use of your money if that is your aim.
In the end, the frustration definitely outweighed the enjoyment. Not because it was hard or because we weren’t under the ideal circumstances, but just because it wasn’t all that fun.
Attack of the killer rice balls
That was until we moved off the main game and started looking at some of the other modes.
Brunch Club comes with a Face/Off mode that pits you against each other in competitive versions of the main levels. This is how the game is meant to be played.
Gone are the annoying bits of the levels out of your control, replaced by a race against time and physics. The best player wins.
And while some of the more obtuse levels are still in the mix, it doesn’t matter when everybody has the same disadvantage.
Brunch Club also boasts an arcade mode with a handful of mini-games that are equally as fun. Playing football with food has never been more enjoyable.
It’s just a shame that these modes are off to the side, hidden in the shadow of the much poorer “main course”. By the time we found them and started enjoying them, we were already almost at our wit’s end.
Graphics and sound
The graphics and sound are fine for a game of this price. They’re good fun and suit the style of the game well. The camera would have been better a little further back at times, but that’s a minor gripe that might actually add to the fun under the perfect conditions.
The music isn’t particularly memorable, but it certainly matched the feel of the levels. You won’t be listening to it afterwards but you’ll get enough out of it while it’s there.
Brunch Club isn’t a good game. It’s obtuse and annoying. It revels in difficulty – something caused by intentionally poor physics rather than clever level design.
But I could write the same for so many of this genre of video games. Brunch Club is a fresh entry in a set of titles that try their best to be annoying, the main aim being to laugh at how bad they are and how wild it is that a piece of bread can be so difficult to control. Wacky streamers will love it. Regular gamers, probably less so.
How do you review a game that is intentionally bad? How do you score a game that will probably only get top marks on drunken nerdy nights in front of the screen? You can only be honest, and say that this isn’t nearly for everybody. Maybe that isn’t a bad thing. But at about $15, it should be enough.