Hack and Slash
It’s clear that a lot of pixel art indie games take clear inspiration from The Legend of Zelda. Each time, though, they attempt to bring something new to the franchise that will make it stand on its own. That takes me to Songbringer from Wizard Fu. Can this action-heavy, Zelda-esque adventure game make its own mark on the Switch library?
Songbringer is a manly game. It starts you out as a man named Roq Epimetheos. His ship and crew crash landed on a mysterious planet. With some of the crew missing, Roq is left on the surface, missing his shirt, and with a small robot companion. He then decides to go searching for his comrades and try to return to the Songbringer ship that sent him out.
Eventually, Roq comes across a strange sword that he picks up. Unfortunately, in doing so, he awakens a mass of goat-headed demons who to try usher in an era of darkness on the planet. From that moment on, it’s up to the player to scour the planet, take on the demons, and do it all with just your courage. You don’t even use hearts as your health. You pick up demons’ teeth to keep your courage up.
Songbringer progresses just about the way you’d expect from a Zelda clone. You get some items, crawl through some dungeons, and take out massive bosses. The big difference with this game is that there is no linear path- you are free to explore how you want. However, there is a major mechanic that I have to take the time to praise with the exploration. Songbringer has you name the world with a six-letter code (or word) at the start of the game. This code then generates a completely unique world. Because of this, you can play through the game millions of times and never have the same experience twice. That design deserves to be praised.
The only downside with Songbringer is that it doesn’t give much reason to play through the game again. Considering that it doesn’t tell you enough about the story or its mechanics to give you any sense of confidence as to what’s going on, it’s hard to want to experience again. Furthermore, the combat is more fun that what you’d see out of an early The Legend of Zelda game, but it can easily become repetitive and downright unfair.
Oh yeah, another thing. Songbringer is painfully difficult. Some rooms require skill to clear all the enemies and others require godlike status. Even some of the bosses are so challenging that I wanted to throw my Switch and be done with it. The game is unbalanced when it comes to difficulty.
While I am getting tired of pixel art games (they’re pretty much everywhere you look), there’s no denying that Songbringer looks astounding. With little effects in the environment and fluid animations, there were times where I didn’t even notice that I was looking at pixels moving together.
If only I could say the same for the soundtrack. Most of the tracks are fine, but some of them just sound so artificial that it’s like tapping a few instruments together and hoping something good comes out of it. It’s not that horrible, but it’s definitely not the highlight of the experience.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Songbringer was provided by Tinsley PR.