Bard’s Gold review (Vita)

Bard’s Gold has found a new home on the Playstation Vita, and it’s probably the best fit for this small indie title.

Previously available on Steam, Bard’s Gold can now be bought in the PSN store for PS4 and Vita – and we tested the portable version. Our first impressions were of a game that harkens back to the early 90s, at least visually and in terms of basic gameplay. Platforms are relatively ‘square’ looking, the jumping and the animations feel relatively crude and the music is fairly basic. That’s not criticism, it’s just a style that echoes a different era of gaming. Having grown up in it, I certainly didn’t mind it.

What Bard’s Gold does very differently from the games of the early 90s is the inclusion of roguelike elements and randomly generated environments. This certainly adds a more modern spin on the game, which has a very simple premise: you’re a bard, and your gold gets stolen by a goblin – who you subsequently chase through a portal only to end up in a world filled with puzzles, enemies and boss fights. This, also, reminds me of an era gone by: nearly every arcade game in the 80s had a similar way of setting up the premise: a few screens with a few lines of text, and into the game proper you go.

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Bard’s Gold is very similar – its gameplay is self-explanatory, as is the upgrading system while you progress. The downside is that that may take longer than you like, due to the roguelike elements in the game. Death is not the end, as you retain your acquired upgrades and thus restart the same section stronger than you did before. It definitely stretches the game’s length and it’s a dynamic that has been popular over the past few years, but gamers generally either love it or hate it. The same can probably be said for randomly generated levels. For me, nothing beats an expertly crafted level that the designer put a lot of thought into. Sure, random levels add replayability and there are good ones in there, but it still feels hit and miss.

That is why I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed Bard’s Gold much as a console game. On a Vita, however, it’s a fun little diversion and the Vita’s nature as a platform that you can use in short bursts makes the grinding aspects much more tolerable as well. There are better platformers and better roguelikes out there, but as a game that lays the ‘retro’ on pretty thick, Bard’s Gold is a decent little indie title.

Score: 6.4/10

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