It seems scarcely credible to me that the release of Disney and Pixar’s Brave movie was more than a decade ago. It seems like only yesterday that I took my then young son to see said film, and had to leave almost as soon as it began as he freaked out when the mother turned into a bear – sorry, spoiler alert! However, the game of the film soon followed in Brave – The Video Game, and while it may not have been the pinnacle of such games, it certainly provided a few hours of diversion.
And so, on the tenth anniversary of the release of Brave – The Video Game on Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, PC and the like, I have decided to put finger to keyboard to remember. So come with me to the Scotland of the past, as we explore the action and story of Brave.
Now, the story does kind of mirror the action in the film, to a certain degree. Our heroine, Merida, is a typically wild young woman, much more at home shooting her bow and generally getting into scrapes than in becoming the young lady that her mother would like her to become. Incidentally, Merida also make bikes, which tickled me the first time I played this game, as I had just bought one through the Cycle to Work scheme, but I digress. Events happen, which I won’t spoil for those of you who haven’t seen the film, and Merida’s mother is transformed into a bear. Obviously, when this happens, Merida decides that her mother wasn’t that bad after all, and the scene is set for a rousing adventure as she tries to turn her back into a human.
The game follows along with the film to a certain extent, and then where necessary for gameplay purposes, it diverges. Brave opens where Elinor, Merida’s mother, is a bear and has escaped from the castle, and this is where we pick up the narrative. As Merida chases the bear through the forest, she comes across a circle of standing stones and finds a witch who demands assistance to turn her mother back. It turns out that a cursed bear by the name of Mor’du has been corrupting a series of waystones with his evil energy, and this in turn has been making hostile creatures appear nearby. Somebody needs to deal with the creatures and cleanse the waystones, and who better than a young girl who suddenly finds herself at a loose end?
Luckily, we won’t be undertaking the journey alone, and Merida will not only encounter her mother as a bear, who we can take control of in certain areas like arena fights, but also meet her identical triplet brothers. Going by the names of Harris, Hubert and Hamish, these younger brothers have also been turned into bears and need to be cured as well. Luckily, as they are bears, the brothers do have a useful ability to help Merida solve puzzles, usually by placing themselves in certain places to unlock doors and so on. In this way, the whole family can get involved in the journey.
Now, the gameplay revolves around exploring, solving puzzles with the brothers, and then a lot of combat. Merida has always been a dab hand with a bow, and so it should come as no surprise to learn that archery is one of her main means of attacks. Not the only one, mind, as it turns out she is also pretty handy with a sword, and also with magic. As she explores different areas from the hub level, called “The Ring of Stones”, Merida can find and use different charms to add elemental effects to her attacks. Coming in the standard four flavours – fire, earth, air and ice – these charms can help considerably, especially once an enemy’s elemental weakness has been identified as then these attacks will obviously do extra damage. While the combat isn’t quite in the ballpark of say, Elden Ring, I think it’s fair enough and it does provide a good challenge, especially for the younger player.
Exploring the various levels will also be rewarded with stuff to find, and again provides an interesting diversion. The best thing about Brave, for me anyway, was how easy it was to get all of the achievements, adding to the (admittedly very short) list of games that I have completed to 100%. Normally what happens when I 100% a game is that the developers will release DLC, but fortunately this didn’t happen in this case.
Brave – The Video Game was released as part of the Xbox Games with Gold program a while back – March 2018 in fact, when we told you to save your bandwidth – but it is also a part of the Backwards Compatibility program, meaning that should you wish, you can play this game today on your shiny Xbox Series X|S consoles, and I for one think that you should.
Brave – The Video Game is not tough, it’s not a graphical tour de force, but what it is is a charming game with a good bit of playability built in. It’s not too long either, nor too hard – it is very much a Goldilocks game; just right.
The question is, did you play this hidden gem back in the day, and if so what did you think of it? If not, do my rose tinted glasses make you think you should give it a try? Let us know in the comments!
You can pick up Brave from the Xbox Store for play on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.