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Fraymakers Preview – A Fun Indie Smash Bros Might Finally Arrive, Just Not Now

Fraymakers just launched in Early Access, and while it has a long way to go until release, it is steeped in promise. This game features indie icons like Octodad and Commander Video, and places them into battles across familiar landscapes, similar to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It struggles with a few controller input issues, but after some tweaking by the developers, there’s much to look forward to in Fraymakers. Just don’t buy it right now.

Developer: Team Fray and McLeodGaming
Publisher: Team Fray and McLeodGaming
Platforms: PC (for now)
Release Date:
January 18 (Early Access), 2025 (expected full release)

A Promising Game With A Rocky Early Access Launch

Let’s get this out of the way. If you’re not super into the idea of an indie Super Smash Bros-style game, you should wait until the full release. This first public build of Fraymakers is relatively barebones. The AI on computer-based enemies in the free play is rough as it willingly jumps off ledges, and some animations aren’t yet complete. In addition, I wasn’t able to match up to an opponent in Quick Play on the first day of Fraymakers’ release. 

The developer McLeodGaming alongside Team Fray, has a lot of experience with the platform fighter genre as they’ve been developing the Super Smash Flash series for over a decade. So far, Fraymakers is the closest any developer’s gotten to the feel of Super Smash Bros, with MultiVersus and Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl being a close second and third. 

Despite a lot of accuracies to its inspiration with wave-dashing and spiking foes into the abyss, the game does struggle with a controller input at this point in time. The movement feels a little stiff, and reaching platforms is challenging once knocked down. Tap jumping isn’t reliable either, which is a big problem for many players. On the other hand, when everything works, combos feel natural to pull off, and once everything is a-okay, it will likely feel rewarding to play. 

It’s still early days with the development of Fraymakers, so these issues will likely be fixed as we near the release of the full game, hence why you shouldn’t pick it up right now unless you want to be there for the ride toward the final product.

The Indie Love Is Showing

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However, what is here shows a tonne of promise. Instead of picking up assist trophies in Super Smash Bros, you set them as an assist in Fraymakers. They’re similar to how assists work in the Marvel vs. Capcom series, as they provide help during a bout. For example, Diogenes from Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy isn’t a character but can whack away with his hammer when he’s summoned.

It’s a neat change to the platform fighter genre that urges tactical timing rather than a random summon you don’t know you’ll get. It makes it more competitive, and there’s a lot of indie representation in Fraymakers. Even a crewmate from Among Us is in the game. 

Unique Characters In A Crowded Genre

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Each character in the game so far feels unique. Octodad fumbles his floppy arms in front of him and does a beautifully animated spin attack. Welltaro is a unique platform fighter that blasts foes under him with a limited bullet amount. Once he’s out of bullets, he can’t recover, so you’ll have to watch out. Orcane works similarly to his Rivals of Aether origins as the dolphin-like creature uses bubbles to trip up their enemies or jumps out of a puddle he previously made. Lastly, Commander Video feels like the most awkward character so far. His reach isn’t that far, and his abilities lack power compared to the rest of the roster. 

The majority of the current roster is unique, and the excellent animation helps bring out their personality. Yes, it is 2D, but each character’s expressions during attacks or being pummeled are well done. In addition, the character’s picture on the bottom also reacts to each moment they’re struck, similar to how Kingdom Hearts. This is a neat small element you can spot while playing Fraymakers. While basic with its gameplay design so far, the stages look stunning in the game’s 2D art style and pay tribute to the indie games we know and love. 

What also helps the stages is the stellar music so far. You can recognize the themes from the games, but the composer adds a twist to each song to make them feel natural in a fighting game like Fraymakers. The original compositions, like the main menu theme, are also super catchy with a jazzy inspiration throughout. 

One of the coolest things about Fraymakers is its modding tools for the game. You can play in stages inspired by the wonderful Celeste and the Shantae series’ Scuttle Town from the Steam Workshop. There’s also the WarioWare level from the Super Smash Bros. series. In addition, users have uploaded a playable Mario and even Gengar. Not a lot has been implemented so far, but as Fraymakers gets more popular and has time to grow, this could be an element of the game that will excite the PC audience. 

Hold Off For Now

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Overall, Fraymakers has a lot of potential, but it will need to fix its significant issues, such as the lousy controller input quality, to become a hit within the platform fighter community. Wait until the game’s full release in two years to play Fraymakers, folks.