The Expendabros Review

Screenshot of The Expendabros
The Expendabros. Bringing freedom to the world through the use of American flags.

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: Free Lives
  • Publisher: Devolver Digital
  • Release Date: 5 Aug 2014
  • Time played: 1.7 hours

What is it

Free Lives is an indie South African games development studio founded in Cape Town in 2012. Their first game was actually an entry for the game jam competition Ludum Dare in April 2012. Their entry was called Rambros and would eventually become the game Broforce. Broforce was a critical and commercial success and in August of 2014, The Expendabros was released for free that served as a movie tie-in game with "The Expendables 3", an action movie starring several old 80s and 90s action stars such as Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham and Dolph Lundgren.

The Expendabros is a run and gun co-op platformer where you and up to three other friends fight a whole bunch of bad guys using characters from "The Expendables 3" film. Like in Broforce, each character has different weapons and abilities that vary in effectiveness, depending on the level you're on. Your goal is to get to the end of the level, kill the general or boss and then evac by chopper. You are able to rescue teammates along the way that gives you extra lives and the ability to switch characters. There are 7 characters you can unlock in the game with unique weapons and special attacks.

The Expendabros is not rated on Metacritic but it does have an "Overwhelmingly Positive" rating on Steam due to 97% of the 17,248 user reviews being positive.

Steam users praised the game for its fun co-op and the fact it's free, however criticisms were made about the lower quality of the game when compared to the original Broforce and how short the campaign is.

How I got it

The Expendabros was a free game that was released in August 2014 which is when I added the game in my library. It sat there for many years until I finally gave it a go this year, but not because I finally remembered to try it, but because my mate Luke (a previous contributor to this blog) invited me over to play it on the Steam Link at his place.

I'm a fan of 80s action films, but nowadays I think I appreciate them more for their "so bad, it's good" qualities. I was very much the target demographic for films such as The Expendables where you get to see a whole bunch of your favourite action stars you grew up watching, come together for some mindless entertainment. The Expendabros is no different except instead of the actors playing their roles on the big screen, you've got 2D pixelart versions of them that you control on the small screen.

Screenshot of flexing scene in The Expendabros
The game has its funny moments such as this sequence where you have to flex your muscles to escape

What I like:

Tie-in made in heaven

The original Broforce game was all about bringing 80s and 90s action heroes back to life in a game full of guns and explosions. Considering The Expendables movies have the same goal (i.e. bringing 80s and 90s action heroes back to life in movies full of guns and explosions) The Expendabros turns out to be one of the better movie tie-ins when it comes to computer games.

Retro pixelart

The game has appealing retro pixelart that kind of suits a game containing 80s and 90s action heroes. The animations, character portraits and cinematics are reminiscent of 80s and 90s arcade games such as Final Fight and Metal Slug.

Over-the-top announcer

The game has an announcer that shouts out countdowns or instructions to you in an over-the-top, manly voice. It's hilarious and what's especially funny is if you fail the mission enough times he'll shout a despairing "NOOOOOOOOO!" that could rival Sylvester Stallone.

Variety of playstyles

Each of the characters carries different weapons and consequently has different play styles. For example, Bronnar Jensen gets a sticky bomb launcher meaning you have to use his weapon from range or else you can endanger your own life when the sticky bombs go off.

Use the environment to your advantage

Just like the game Worms, you'll find a lot of explosive barrels, gas canisters, mines, etc. scattered across the map. Blowing these things up from a distance can sometimes mean using the environment to your advantage, although just like Worms, sometimes your plans can spectacularly backfire and you end up wiping out your squad!

Works on the Steam Link

You can play this game on the Steam Link. I played with Logitech F710 controllers and it worked more or less fine.

Screenshot of Area Liberated screen in The Expendabros
Just when you're getting used to the game, it's over.

What I dislike:

No manual selection of character

Once you've unlocked more "bros" in the game, rescuing ones in captivity will automatically switch you with another character. Unfortunately, sometimes you're quite happy with the character you already have and you might end up switching to an inferior character or one that is unsuitable for the obstacles you're up against. It would be nice if you were given the option to choose which character to switch to.

Limited replay

Once you've finished the game there's very little reason to return and play it again.


It took me and Luke less than two hours to complete the campaign, so you can usually finish it in one gaming session.

No Steam Achievements and Trading Cards

The game is free after all but some Steam Achievements would've been nice.

Score – 8/10 (Recommended)

Since The Expendabros is free you've got nothing to lose in giving it a shot, except some of your time. If you're a fan of "The Expendables" franchise or 80s and 90s action stars and want to try out a funny, retro, run and gun platformer with some mates over local co-op, The Expendabros is definitely recommended. Just don't go expecting much in terms of longevity.

If you like this game, you might like…

[ LINK: The Expendabros Steam Store Page ]