Posted: July 10, 2014
Bardbarian "is a mixture of Tower Defense, RPG & RTS with some 'Shmup and Snake elements". I have no clue where the RTS element is.
It's essentially a game about defending your town crystal from incoming waves of enemies. How do you defend it? You summon party members with different abilities, and you run around dodging bullets and buffing your party (you do not control your attacks, that's all done automatically).
When I saw this game, I thought it looked interesting enough to give it a go. The reviews were surprisingly positive, so... why not?
I'll just say that I was extremely disappointed with this game, and the reviews are unbelievable. I honestly don't know why people think this is a good game of PC! Here's a more lengthy analysis.
First off, presentation
look a bit average to me, but they're fine. What you see is what you get (from the screenshots). One problem with it, is that it's highly repetitive, even visually, since you have only one map for the campaign. And it doesn't really change its look. Other modes have different maps, but nothing beautiful or interesting.
. That's all I can say about it.
was actually not bad. It's almost neo-classical metal, instrumental only. Unfortunately, there's only one song on the campaign. The song loops the entire time, which can (and does) get repetitive after listening to it hours on end. The song loops pretty seemlessly, so that's good (from what I could tell). It was just background music, didn't really add to the experience.
There were no volume sliders either. Only music/sound-effects on/off.Very limited
overall. A bit more effort and it could have been much more enjoyable, but playing the same track over and over and over... not good.
was fine. The mouse support works fine on the menus. I played the game with a Gamepad and it worked well as well, so good job on that. Unfortunately, the concept of an Options Meny seems to be very foreign to the developer. There's barely anything, which is really annoying. But hey, at least it had rebindable keys!
It's.. again, fine. Nothing noteworthy here, it's missing a bunch of options, but it didn't really prove to be a problem, in my experience.
So, how's gameplay
Well, it's a grindfest. Almost a waiting game...
As I said, you don't actually attack. So, your whole job is to summon party members, and run around the map, getting close enough for your party to attack. You can also boost the party with +Attack, +Speed, +Defense, or a special Stun ability. If your party member dies, you'll have to summon them again, at a cost. If you Bard dies, or your Crystal is destroyed, you lose. Simple enough.
To summon units and use buffs, you'll need to gather "Notes". You gain a few over time, and you get some more from enemy drops, sometimes.
And that's pretty much it, as gameplay.
Enemy variety was pretty good. They'll shoot at you, with some of them being faster, some firing multiple shots, in multiple directions, etc. It felt inspired by The Binding of Isaac (in a good way). That's not to say that the enemy variety is even remotely closer. Not at all. There are about 10 different enemies, and some of them are fairly similar.
So, all you have to do is literally run around, for the most part. And it gets very old, very fast. It's clearly designed as an iOS game... And a lazy one.
It does have some bullet hell elements. And those could have saved the game! But, there's a huge problem with that. As I mentioned, you have units. These run around you. Which means that your hitbox is huge, and very inconsistent. You simply can't do those awesome dodges you would in a bullet hell. There's no way.
There's an upgrade on the shop for the party to stick closer together, but it barely helps... Everytime you move, they'll stay a bit behind, which would be fine, but it provides nothing of worth! It simply inutilizes most of the dodging. Which means that you'll always play safe, run around, not feeling like a badass.
That's all the gameplay is. Running around.
The Boss fights were significantly better, but still not very good. A few simple patterns, but they at least felt more refreshing.
The second part of this game, is the upgrading system. The game is structured with 4 times of the day, each with 5 levels (a Boss Fight in the 5th). Once you beat a Boss, you can't start from that point after you die, or you can go back to the beginning. This could have been fine, but it isn't.
The upgrades are absolutely necessary. It's literally impossible to make any progress without upgrading everything. And that's usually how games go, but this is different. Your progress is 95% affected by your upgrades. There's no skill involved. It's a question of either having enough damage, or not having it. Even if you're a good player, you'll simply be overun by enemies that will rush you crystal. Once you die, there you go upgrade some more, and then beat it easily. And that's the whole game. The upgrades aren't at all interesting. They're just that, upgrades. More damage, more health, more speed, more money, more notes, etc.
This makes for a very, very stale game. You're always doing the same thing! Running around, collecting gold so that you can buy more upgrades, until you reach the end. There are no deep mechanics to learn or master, no strategy, no anything.
The only glimpse of strategy, is choosing your units. You'll unlock different units throughout the game, with different abilities. There's a huge problem with it, though. First off, some of them are pretty much useless. They're not helpful at all, so there's no point in even existing. The other problem, is unit upgrades.
You can upgrade them too (see it as levels, basically. higher level=better version of the unit, simply that). BUT, if you want to test a unit, and see if they're any good, you'll have to upgrade them to the same level that your other units are. Otherwise, you can't compare them very well, can you? But, to upgrade them, you'll waste gold, that you only want to use in a unit that you know will be useful. And this is where the system falls apart.
To try the unit, you'll have to waste gold already, otherwise, there's no point, as they'll be incredibly underpowered. This makes it a waste of gold (which equals to a waste of time, as your play time is simply to collect enough gold to make progress!). It's broken and pointless
. This leads to a very limited cast of characters. I stuck around with most of the initial ones because of it. And I've done fine. Different characters could interact differently, but when the gameplay is literally just running around, it makes almost no difference! You don't play with the characters, they play themselves.
To its credit, there are 2 other game modes. One is just survival, in which you get a random unit spawn that you must collect, and sometimes food (healing). There are bosses, from time to time, and the enemies will try to kill you (no crystal this time).
The other one is an infinite runner mode, you a few stationary enemies (pretty much towers), and randomly spawned obstacles. Both of these modes unlock 2 cross-over characters, so you are encouraged to try them out.
The achievements were... meh. Barely anything to encourage you different (and interesting) character combinations, which is a really big miss. They're mostly for beating each Boss, unlocking characters, upgrades, etc. Nothing interesting. And that's unfortunate.Conclusion
This game is literally a waste of time. You'll collect gold to buy upgrades and progress in the game. You'll not learn how to master the mechanics the more you play. You won't feel any kind of rewarding sensation whenever you beat a Boss.
The game has potential, but ends up feeling like a lazy iOS game. You'll be entertained for 1-2 hours. Not more.