Our review copy of Brave arrived before the film had opened in cinemas in the UK, so it’s hard to say how well it captures the feel of Pixar’s latest epic. However, it’s a fun game that will appeal to younger children – particularly, perhaps, to young girls, since Brave is all about the young heroine, Princess Merida, who battles through a misty Highland landscape in order to protect her kingdom and lift the curse that rather inconveniently seems to have turned her mother into a giant bear.
In some ways, Merida is a bit like a younger version of Lara Croft. As she runs around the attractively drawn 3D landscape she quickly learns to jump over obstacles and dodge the enemies that attack her. Merida wields both a sword and a bow, allowing her to shoot down enemies from long range or to get up close and personal for a spot of melee combat.
There are Lara-esque puzzles too, with lots of stepping on pressure plates and shooting at bolts on bridges in order to open the pathway to the next stage of the game. But while the mechanics of the game are simple enough, there is also enough depth to draw young players in and keep them interested.
Every defeated enemy drops little piles of gold coins, which you can use to buy new weapons and upgrade your combat skills. You can learn new moves, such as diving and rolling along the ground to avoid an enemy attack, and gain skills such as ‘Slam’ – an area-of-effect attack that damages all nearby enemies.
There are some rough edges though. The 3D perspective is sometimes a little confusing, making it tricky to aim at some targets or to jump past obstacles. The keyboard controls aren’t well organized either, and some of the running-and-jumping moves will probably work better with a handheld game controller.
Brave does a good job of combining simple game-play with a variety of skills and weapons that help to keep things interesting. The App Store reviews section has lots of comments along the lines of “my daughter loved this”, but hopefully Brave will appeal to young boys too, just as the adventures of Lara Croft appeal to their dads.