Bravada is unique title with some innovative features tucked inside it. It is a strategic, turn-based RPG that is filled with humor and epic boss fights that, surprisingly, doesn’t really feel like a turn-based title the majority of the time. Interbellum has designed an enjoyable – albeit repetitive at times – game that brings a new, and enjoyable twist to the grid-based strategy-RPG gameplay.
I’ll be honest, the story isn’t gripping or necessarily emotionally provoking, but it is funny; and that is what it is going for. Bravada is a light-hearted and fun gaming experience and the story works magically with the overall style of the game. The opening tutorial has our would-be-hero tasked with slaying a dragon, a feat which he accomplishes and then promptly wakes up. From there, some brainwashed chickens and evil slime monsters are brought to justice before our hero decides that he is missing something: A beard. He is a dwarf, after all, and any self respecting dwarf has flowing locks sprouting from his face. It is at this point that the journey truly begins.
As I said, it isn’t deep and you won’t be breaking the tissues out, but it provides a great breather in between the stages. The cutscenes also brought a smile to my face, as they are minimal in animation, with an artstyle that amplifies the game’s quirkiness. It is also hard to not like the the various mumbling noises the characters make when speaking.
Gameplay is where the game really shines. Like many strategy-RPGs, you will be mostly fighting. Over and over. Same holds true here, only difference being that it feels much, much faster paced than many other strategy-RPGs that can be found. Often times while in the midst of combat, I barely noticed that characters were strictly sticking to a turn-by-turn rule. Movement can be made in a continuous stride, constantly ticking up the turn number’s value, but never will the action stop, unless, of course, the player simply sits there and stares at the screen.
Units attack automatically upon coming into range of enemies, so one simply just guides their characters along the field in a continuous path forward. There is no turning back for items that have gone past the screen’s bottom; instead they are gone, so important items that fall upon the battlefield need to be grabbed up whenever possible.
Thankfully, the stages are not set up as simple paths where one just approaches monster after monster, waging in battle nonstop until the boss makes it appearance. There are other things to worry about, too; such as falling rocks or a raging forest fire, or even violent waves of the ocean, just to name a few. There are also various non life-threatening dangers laid out before our hero and fellow cohorts, that do nothing more than disturb your formation and cause the need for a readjustment. Minor annoyances that pop up are what they are, and they become tedious at times.
Formation is an important factor, as it is with many strategic-RPGs, and an ill placed unit can bring forth the downfall of our heroes. Every unit has there own weakness and proficiency, be it support, ranged attacks, melee, or healing. Some can also take hits better than others; you don’t want the healer in the front row, or the melee man in the back. There are times when last minute switching around may be needed – which can be done when needed with the mouse – whenever enemies circle around the units. Things can get challenging, and units will die, but often times their deaths can be prevented by thinking ahead – save for the few bum rush occasions.
One thing that changed the overall feeling for me, however, was the boss battles. After experiencing the first two or three, I found myself growing bored with the basic levels that lie before them. I couldn’t help feeling as though the preceding levels were no more than filler, placed in to make me wait for the real battle. While the gameplay is fun, I could only handle banishing wave after wave of enemy, and dodging various obstacles for so many hours before finding myself growing tired of the grind. These feelings were remedied by boss fights, however, as they help break the repetitive cycle.
Other than repetitiveness of the gameplay, I only have one other complaint with Bravada, and that is with the in-game animations: There is a strange imbalance between them. Some enemies have beautiful animations – especially bosses – while many others, as well as the player units, just slide about the battlefield and bump into each other to signify attacks. This doesn’t ruin the experience, but when great animations pop up, you can’t help but feel the wanting for more love to have gone into other areas as well.
Which brings me to the subject of graphics. Environments are varied and nicely detailed and feel alive. The environments also feel well utilized, instead of simply adding a visual flair to the experience. Wooded areas have enemies rushing from thickets of trees, caves have moles bursting up from the ground and rocks falling onto your head, and other such touches that add a nice feel to the experience. Character design is simple, as you can easily tell by looking at the Hero in the status menu; they look good and coincide with the vibe of the game, though a little bit more animation would have been nice.
Bravada is what it is, and it brings some freshness to the strategical side of the RPG fence. Interbellum has crafted a fun game that is filled with humor and solid gameplay,and though I found it to become repetitive at times, it is one I still would recommend for fans of the genre to try. At $9.99 for the amount of game time – I clocked in around 13 hours or so on the hardest difficulty – the fun to be experienced with it is well worth the price.
Bravada is available for purchase on Desura for $9.99 USD, and even has a demo available for those that want to try it before making a commitment.