|Developer: Behavior Interactive|
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Xbox Release Date: September 25, 2012 (according to Xbox.com)
This month's Games With Gold release for the Xbox 360 was Brave: The Video Game and it's one that pleasantly surprised me with a crisp and fun gameplay experience. I haven't been this pleasantly surprised by a free Xbox game since I downloaded and played Dark Souls back when it was offered for Games With Gold back in 2014.
The first thing you'll notice when you play this game are the visuals. Brave has the look of a budget title visually. Textures are simple, animation is limited, and the camera is pulled back greatly. With the amount and placement of enemies, you'll be glad for the latter, but it all does give Brave the look of every other licensed title that hardcore gamers prefer to skip. However, once you get into the gameplay, the simplistic visuals are a mere afterthought and are competent enough to not get in your way while offering a nice enough backdrop to the action.
During my initial playthrough of the game on Normal difficulty, I found the game to be a fun breeze of running, jumping, shooting, slashing, and collect-a-thon action. The controls are simple, easy, and smooth. Shooting Merida's bow is done with the right thumb stick. There is no targeting reticle to deal with which works in this game's favor and the projectiles generally go where you want them to go. Melee is performed with (X) and is standard, quick, and competent, but I always preferred to use the bow. Jumping with (A) feels good and the level design leads to some fun and sometimes challenging platforming.
The game breaks up the standard combat sections with simple puzzles that I sometimes managed to solve in only a few seconds along with a different style of combat featuring a freaking bear -- ahem -- Merida's mom, Queen Elinor I mean.