[Originally reviewed on Apr 23, 2018]
Usually when I see a video game being massacred by modern times critics, because of its high difficulty[Originally reviewed on Apr 23, 2018]
Usually when I see a video game being massacred by modern times critics, because of its high difficulty and challenge, I tend to discredit the criticism itself. I mean, let's face it: many people who talk about video games and difficulty, simply cannot play, as happened to Dean Takahashi with Cuphead.
However, in this case, I have to make amends. A Bastard's Tale is a game that starts from a nice and interesting idea, but that has been developed in a wrong way – probably result of need for alternativism in the panorama of today's too easy modern games. What good this game have in its conceptual ideas? Just as shown in the well-known "Just Pain" trailer, no QTEs, no executions moves, no XP points, no better loot. A game with these characteristics would already in itself be a great challenge, but the developers went further.
What's not working? Well, the player character is excessively too slow, for example, both in the attacks and in the movement. While some of the enemies, but generally all, tend to be at least twice as fast. I would have increased at least a 50% speed of movement and attack of the player character, because in the actual way is simply ridiculous. But flaws don't end there: although the protagonist knight is armed with a two-handed longsword, the attack range of the weapon is mockingly short. Sometimes you have to be a few inches from the enemy's nose to hit him, inevitably being smashed by him. But it didn't end here. The parry system is something simply wrong and inconceivable: in a game with two dimensions, you can not simply think of introducing an attack-blocking system to the left, to the right and to the top. It is difficult to understand where the attacks come from; being a 2D game, a parry system blocking attacks simply to the top and bottom would have been much more effective. Among other things, the player character cannot even move when he attacks and can dodge attacks only somersaulting backwards. Here is a game design failure that I show you in this game: who played it, will know that enemies in black cloak, "composed" of crows, throw rotating blades against the player. Well, to defeat them you need to hit the incoming blades with the sword and approach the enemy (remembering that, like poor Leon in RE4, or hit or walk), but even when you are close to the enemy, he tends to back away. You can hit him but ... surprise! One of the rotating blades he is about to throw spawns right in front of the player, dealing damage or killing him. What? Should I attack taking more distance? Of course, but how can I do it if: 1) the attack range of the sword is the same as a spoon and 2) I cannot hit moving, while the opponent can? A failure of game design, in fact. And these enemies are among the easiest to fight. I could also add that I found the most powerful enemies, endowed with a too solid health bar, that in this case I would have lowered by half.
All these elements make A Bastard's Tale an exhibitionist game, which necessarily wants to be alternative, but which fails at a fundamental point: being fun. Personally I stopped playing at the third level, I cannot kill the anthropomorphic crow armed with blades and I'm enough annoyed to continue, I've been even too much patient. And I'm not going to waste my time further with an indie game that lives of poor game design.
The graphics in 16-bit pixel art is cute, but it doesn't shine for artistic originality. It's very generic. Good the soundtrack, but also in this case, nothing special.
So I have a dispassionate message for the guys at No-Pest Productions: did you really believe that this was enough? In the end the game didn't even get so much popularity or prestige as Cuphead did and do you know why? Because it's not fun. Do you want to know which 2D game was absurdly challenging and yet original, fun and unique? It comes out from the 1990s and it was truly popular during the age of arcade: it's Metal Slug. Because Metal Slug is the game I gone back playing with, after A Bastard's Tale annoyed me. I suggest you to learn from the best. Greetings, goodbye.… Expand