How would you score your patience levels? Any anger management issues? Well this game may not be for you; or me for that matter, as it had me hurling some abuse at the screen more than once. But perhaps that is the objective of such a game – to kick your ass, over and over unapologetically. Breaking you down until you snap, and with it your $50 ps4 controller.
A Bastard’s Tale does exactly that.
It’s a side scrolling platformer, which has you play as an armour-clad bastard knight, roaming the land with a massive claymore slung over the shoulder. The game’s mechanic is a very ‘casual’ one, you simply walk to the right, engaging enemies one after another, sometimes in quick succession. Slain foes are added to a running tally, further framing the casual nature of the experience.
There is no negotiating or time wasting dialogue, It’s kill or be killed, sometimes in as little as a single hit.
So what makes this game special and worth playing? It comes down to two factors:
It would be a stretch to say this game is a 2D Dark Souls, but there are definitely some comparisons to be made. You see, finding success in A Bastard’s Tale’s combat system relies on mastering directional blocking, positioning, the art of provoking enemies taking a swipe (basically agroing them with close proximity). It’s challenging, so much so that you may lose interest after a few fights – especially If you got the game for $3 during the recent sale.
However, if you do become a master of the sword, the game has an element of depth, through stunning environmental progress, and new interesting enemies to stumble upon. Which bring us to the next pretty face of A Bastard’s Tale.
Pixel art is pretty common these days, seems like every kid and his dog is shipping some cool looking pixel art indie game. Partly because a lot of polished pixel art has been made available through asset stores for a few bucks. With that said, so many of those pixel art indie games are starting to look the same, as if the same 2-3 artists are behind them. I dunno.
A Bastard’s Tale has a pretty unique look, like it came straight out often mid 90’s. It has a little grit, with a more muted colour pallet – which separates it from much of the other cookie cutter examples out there. The first screen-shot I stumbled upon, I immediately thought, ‘that looks different’. The colours are intentionally undersaturated and muted, which gives the land a mild feeling of despair and misfortune. The scenes are simple yet beautifully staged with some nice props – such as a derelict farm house and church.
The environments have nice contrasting variations which gives a convincing feeling of progression. The problem is, with the games particularly brutal and unforgiving combat system, you may never behold the beauty of the later environments in person. But one could argue that aspect alone creates a hell of an incentive to do so.
There is no other progression to mention, which is kind of a shame – as the graphics and medieval themes allude to a much deeper experience. I’d personally love to see these guys put together something similar, but with a few light-weight RPG elements thrown in.
All-in-all, for a game with a current price tag of $4.99 USD, you really can’t go wrong. In fact, part of my purchase was driven by a want to see the sweet pixel art light up on my 70″ LED TV. (If you love pixel art I’m sure you can relate!)
Go have yourself a play, the first enemy you encounter will likely kill you. But fret not, dying is the nature of knights.
Also available on PSN