Don’t expect to memorize complex multitouch gestures and combo moves—that’s not what My Brute is like. Think Pokemon: the idea is that you create different anime-style fighting characters (your “Brutes”) and pit them against other players’ Brutes from other dojos all over the world. As they fight, they gain experience and unlock new abilities. It’s not exactly an original concept, but if that’s what you like, My Brute does a decent job of it.
The game starts by asking you to name your dojo, and then create fighters. (There is an option to join under a “Master”—players invite other players to join the game and gain advantages from having people join their team—but I didn’t explore that.)
Character creation is the most involved (and time-consuming) part of the game; with good reason, since success or failure in combat depends almost entirely on your Brute’s statistics. The game lets you customize almost every aspect of your Brute’s appearance, and gives you some influence over its strengths and fighting characteristics. There is also an online store where you can buy weapons and accessories for your Brute.
The combat reminds me of Final Fantasy II, except that it requires even less interaction. As soon as you choose an opponent, combat starts and… you just watch. This was disappointing at first, especially considering how much time creating my Brute took. The speed of combat and the interesting animations made up for that, to a degree.
To level the playing field, the game only allows you to fight six battles in a 24-hour period. That may seem like a heavy restriction for a paid game, but it does keep you from getting either addicted or bored. I certainly wanted to keep playing after my first six battles were done.
A lot of early games for the iPhone used every feature available, from multitouch to the accelerometer. Not My Brute. Instead of having a complex interface, My Brute concentrates on ease of gameplay. Other than using your location data (to place your dojo on a map of the world) and allowing you to choose background music from your own library, only simple touch control is used to do everything. Navigation is simple, once you figure out the game.
Things that could be better.
My Brute could do with more detailed instructions; figuring out how to play initially was a mixture of guesswork and rifling through the wiki. There is no explanation for what the icons and symbols mean, or at least not that I found. With better, more accessible instructions, the game would be easier to get into and its simple interface would really shine.
All in all, My Brute, even though it’s not the kind of game I’m used to, turned out to be more engaging than expected. If you like stats-based combat games, My Brute is intricate and kind of fun, but will require a long-term commitment to be worth its $4.99 price tag.