Bard's Gold (PC) Review

By Renan Fontes 27.10.2015

Review for Bard

Bard's Gold touts itself as "a platformer coming straight out of the '90s." Playing through the game, it becomes abundantly clear that Erdem Sen, the developer and publisher, has a misconception over '90s platformers. The only quality even remotely similar to a '90s platformer is its unforgiving difficulty. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a game being hard. For a lot of games, the difficulty is often its greatest strength. Dark Souls and Ninja Gaiden are fantastic examples of hard, but satisfying, games. It's obvious that Bard's Gold wants to be seen as such, but it forgot one clear component needed to make a hard game enjoyable: game design.

Game design and gameplay are two things that absolutely need to complement each other for a game to be good. This is a concept that Bard's Gold blissfully ignores.

Moving the titular bard is sluggish and clunky. He has a double jump that barely gets any air, and his hitbox is perhaps one of the most repulsive things about the game. There is absolutely no excuse for a hitbox to be so bad that just by jumping near a set of spikes it should cause death.

On the topic of deaths, enemies move sporadically without set patterns. The worst offenders being the worm-type creatures; monsters that will lunge away from the bard and lunge towards him depending on which direction they're facing, making it so that the only way to damage them is in small increments, lest the bard be killed, as he can only take one hit before dying (three in Hardcore Mode).

On top of the enemies' random movements, monsters take a lot of punishment. The bard does miniscule pea shooter-sized damage with his starting knife. It can be upgraded via shops or from finding a hidden axe in levels, but upon death, all upgrades are lost, and since death happens often, the bard will most likely be toting his weak, miserable dagger for the majority of his weak, miserable journey.

To add insult to injury, each stage is timed, and as each stage is effectively a game of trial and error with traps killing in one hit and being abundant, with most of them not being telegraphed, there is little time for the bard to explore the layout of each level and figure out how to proceed. One of Bard's Gold's selling points is its random level layouts, effectively making each playthrough of the main game different, but what Erdem Sen failed to relay was that there are only four different layouts per stage.

Screenshot for Bard's Gold on PC

Normal mode will always be the same, no matter what. Retro mode uses an RNG to determine whether or not the bard will traverse through one of two different layouts per stage, and Hardcore mode one of four.

While there is potential for different combinations to give the adventure some fresh air, it simply isn't enough, as each level is, basically, the same. The bard spawns at a door, he must then find a key, and he must then use that key to open a new door. All throughout, dodging traps and killing enemies to get gems so that he can upgrade his stats and maybe have an easier time next go around when he - and he most certainly will - dies.

In regards to the upgrade system, Bard's Gold gradually unlocks more stats to level up, and once it does, it becomes incredibly clear that the game was designed with full upgrades in mind. It's only through these upgrades that it begins to feel fair in its challenge. It doesn't change the fact that the level design itself is amateurish, but it is a silver lining that, perhaps, things could be better with a few updates.

Presentation-wise, Bard's Gold is nothing short of terrible. The art style reeks of MS Paint and the music itself is grating, eternally looping until the end of time itself.

Screenshot for Bard's Gold on PC

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

Bard's Gold is a bad game, truly. It should not have been released in the state it's currently in, let alone for $8. It simply isn't worth the money and aggravation that comes with the experience. It has potential to get better in the future, but the point stands: Bard's Gold, in its current state, had absolutely no right being released to the public for a price.

Developer

Erdem Sen

Publisher

Erdem Sen

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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