Indie

SickBrick | Review

A look at Mladen Bošnjak and Ron McDowell’s frantic indie FPS, SickBrick, available now on PC via Steam.

SickBrick for PC

One of the best things about reviewing games is finding ones that, while not perfect, are just flat-out fun. SickBrick is a fundamentally simple game that borders on minimalism. The graphics aren’t much to look at, the story feels sparse, and there’s not a ton of variety to gameplay. That said, the actual gameplay is actually pretty enjoyable. While there are certainly areas that are lacking overall, the simple, straightforward approach of the game keeps the focus on action and fun.

SickBrick begins by placing players in a restroom with no explanation or lead-up. It’s up to the player to find their way to where some directions are scrawled on a wall and begin weaving their way through. Before long, the game introduces the first weapon in its diverse, but relatively small, collection of weapons – a chainsaw. This serves as your introduction to combat, and to the setting: a testing chamber, reminiscent of Portal with more firepower. A shotgun, rapid-firing “lightning gun”, grenade launcher, and incredibly-powerful laser weapon round out the arsenal.


SickBrick Chainsaw

The chainsaw may not have the range or damage of later weapons, but the lack of reliance on ammunition makes it a reliable backup in desperate times.

SickBrick may not have much complexity, but there’s still plenty going on. Messages and arrows pointing the way abound on the walls, with several different colors suggesting different authors. There’s also the ever-present mechanical voice of whatever is running the test you’re in. The story is pretty bare-bones and slow to build, but there’s a twist near the end that puts a lot of things together in a pretty interesting fashion. The bulk of gameplay is simple, furious first-person shooter action, placing players up against a seemingly endless supply of enemy bots that range from relatively non-threatening to highly potent, intimidating boss battles. A few puzzles and jumping sequences along the way sprinkle in just a bit of variety.

SickBrick Turret Tank

There are also a few vehicle stages that showcase three varieties of player-piloted tanks.

SickBrick does manage to create an enjoyable experience despite the slim, simplistic look and feel. While it took me around four hours to complete, it seemed to be time well-spent. The game’s lack of frills actually keeps things moving, putting the action and combat first, if only because there’s nothing else to take center stage. Players aren’t presented with much of an actual threat for at least the first half of the game, and health and ammo remain pretty plentiful throughout, which helps keep things moving. Some hidden items in the game’s hidden corners encourage some exploration, but don’t seem to add much beyond that.

SickBrick Shotgun Bots

A steady onslaught of robots means there’s almost always something to shoot at, and the assortment of weapons serve a variety of uses in different situations.

While SickBrick may not bring a ton of complexity to the table, the responsive controls, ease of play, and mix of weapons still make for a good play. I’m not sure that four hours is worth the $9.99 price on Steam, but when the title gets swept up in an inevitable sale, it could easily fit nicely. The inclusion of a level editor, integrated with Steam Workshop, means there’s plenty of other things to do, so more invested players may easily get their worth out of a full-price purchase. While it’s definitely light in many areas, the fact is that it’s frantic, well-polished, and downright fun to play.

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