Rush Bros is a side-scrolling platform racing game from indie developer XYLA Entertainment. Designer Ian Boswell has said the game actually started life as a mod for Portal 2 co-op. Following a successful campaign the game was given the Greenlight by Steam back in April and has been available on the platform since late May.
Players take control of brothers Bass and Treble who are DJ’s. They used to perform together but split and are now creating their best work battling against each other. The brief story actually adds little to the game other than trying to create a reason for what’s happening.
The game is essentially a speed running platform game where the aim is to get to the end of the level as quick as possible while keeping mistakes to a minimum. There are over 40 stages to tackle and each is littered with puzzles, obstacles and power-ups. Before you can concentrate on really doing well at a level you need a few tries to learn it.
Controls are simple enough and players have the choice of using the keyboard or a controller. The game recommends a controller for the best experience and having tried both we we would definitely agree. Your DJ can move left and right as well as slide and jump. Movement adds inertia to your DJ which takes practice to learn how to stop where you want. The quickest way to move is to slide and you’ll be spamming that to build speed.
The jumping works well and it’s even better once you pick up a double-jump powerup. The game also allows wall-jumping and sliding down them. Mastering your movement is key to staying alive and getting through the levels quickly. The platforming reminds of Super Meat Boy with all manner of traps just waiting to kill you. When things go wrong it throws you straight back into the game via a generous checkpoint system.
The game comes with an impressive Dance / Dubstep soundtrack that you’ll want to listen to over and over if you enjoy the genres. If not there’s no need to worry as you can use your existing .mp3 or .ogg music library. The unique feature in Rush Bros is the way music affects the levels. The developers describe it as reactive level design as the music actually affects the way that traps, obstacles and even the background change and move. Tackling a level with a completely different tempo song can feel quite different as you have to time your jumps and movement in time to the beats.
Despite the custom soundtracks and reactive levels the game has limited appeal while playing solo unless you just like trying to beat your times or climb the leaderboards. The most enjoyment comes from playing against another player either local or online split-screen. Here you must race against each other to be the first through the level.
When up against an opponent of similar skill races can feel quite tense and it’s a lot of fun. In multiplayer powerups can affect the other player, for example you might temporarily flip their screen upside down or reverse their controls. The levels are quite long and the more complex ones tend to punish you. Constant deaths can lead to frustration but sometimes when you’re both stuck on the same part it can also be hilarious.
As fun as the multiplayer is it’s actually quite hard to find people to play against. We’ve had a few times when we couldn’t find anyone to challenge. This has improved since launch slightly but the community really needs to grow. We suggest if you enjoy the game then grab a copy for a friend too.
Graphically the game looks really nice with lots of black outlines contrasted against bright neons colours. The backgrounds in particular look great and we love the way everything reacts in time with the music.
Overall Rush Bros is a neat concept and platforming fans with a competitive streak will definitely enjoy it. The developers are promising to continue to support the game and we’d really love to see a level editor released. If you like tricky platforming then consider picking this up but just be aware you might need to bring some friends to fully enjoy it.