Review: Songbringer

A simple scouting mission becomes a desperate fight for survival. With only your trusty bot and a nanosword by your side, you must do all to return to your ship, the Songbringer.

Genre(s): Action Adventure

Developer: Wizard Fu

Publisher: Wizard Fu

Release Date: September 2017

Played Main Story

Platforms: PC

Purchase At: Steam

Good:

  • Non-linear.

  • Campy & trippy.

Bad:

  • Uninspired dungeon design.

  • Buggy enemies.

  • Procedurally generated worlds.

Review

Songbringer is one of those games I’ve followed for a while, hooked on the promise of a Zelda-like adventure, full of dungeons and mystery. Now that I have my hands on it, I can say it sort of delivers on the promise, but not without many glaring faults and not without stumbling around.

One thing I love about it is that it has that open world and nonlinear approach to dungeon crawling of the original Legend of Zelda on the NES, where dungeons could be completed in nearly any order, with only a couple of items required to progress between them. In Songbringer from the moment you pick up your sword in a cave—a clear “It’s dangerous to go alone, take this!” reference—almost every corner of the world is open to you and so are its dungeons…and the horde of demons you unleash by pulling the sword free. No biggie.

Songbringer - Nanosword

Only missing a kind old man.

As you explore the world and kill its denizens, you’ll collect the local currency, which you can use to purchase a ton of items, from flying and exploding top hat drones to map scanners that reveal the next point of interest. There are even elemental items you fuse with your other equipment to change how they work, with Ice + Bomb being the most useful and overpowered. I mean it, when you can freeze bosses, you know you’re winning.

But it’s hard to describe the world of Songbringer because it’s procedurally generated, so the biome you get will depend on the seed you use, though from what I’ve seen, wetlands and deserts seem to be the primary terrains. On my first playthrough I had something that could only be described as half & half, most of it a barren wasteland but some lakes and swamps scattered along the way.

Songbringer - Demons

Where have I seen the plot point of a sword sealing away demons? Hmmm, something about a Wind Waker I believe!

What I can say is that the characters and their design are surreal as hell and you’re not at any point supposed to take them seriously, which could be said for the game and its story as a whole. Hell, there’s a recovery item that gets you high, turning the colours all psychedelic. It’s distracting and annoying to be honest, but part of the Sonbringer charm as it were, as much as the fact that the lightning that forces Roq to crash tears off his shirt, leaving him a bare-chested warrior with glorious hair.

But the procedural generation of Songbringer has a downside, the main downside of any procedurally generated world—and the main reason I am absolutely exhausted of this kind of game—and it’s quality control and mechanical consistency.

Songbringer - Boss

Just whack it, there are no mechanics in boss fights, just hit them!

Too many times I broke open chests to see my items stuck on a wall, or enemies flying out of bounds. Hell, I had a game-breaking bug in one of the runs, with my last dungeon having a kill-room that consistently bugged out and left me in a closed room without exits and without the ability to at least open the door to the boss room.

I suppose it’s because of the procedural generation that the dungeons are so plain. For one, they’re all identical dark grey to black rooms filled to the brim with one form of enemy or another. If you’re lucky you’ll find a room with some environmental hazard, though nothing too complicated. If you finish one dungeon in Songbringer you’ve seen all that the game has to offer, as even the boss fights lack anything creative or even interesting, they’re just hack & slash fests. Tank & Spank as you would say with MMO bosses.

Conclusion

I came into Songbringer with the promise of a Zelda-like adventure, and it’s true, it’s kinda like Zelda, only lacking in anything to make it as memorable as the Nintendo franchise. The procedural gives you countless worlds to play in, but no matter the biome, they all lack personality and soul.

TMA SCORE:

2.5/5 – Average

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