Bravada – What We Think:
Presenting itself as a turn-based RPG with elements of strategy, Bravada sets up certain expectations about its gameplay. There has been a strong resurgence of strategy/RPGs lately, but those looking for a typical example of these genres in Bravada may find themselves surprised. While it shares some mechanics with more conventional entries in the genre, this is a game with some unusual features that could disappoint some players while exciting others.
Bravada puts you in the shoes of a young dwarf who is lacking that most important feature of his race (as established in most Tolkien-inspired fantasy): the mighty beard. The hero of Bravada sets out on an adventure laden with the goal of obtaining a beard to secure his place as a true dwarf. The admittedly basic story serves as a backbone of light-hearted humor that fits the tone of the game well.
Onwards and Upwards
The gameplay of Bravada takes place in a single vertical, linear passage through which your party travels, battling enemies and gaining new party members as they move. At first, this narrow corridor of terrain can seem extremely limiting, but as time goes on, Bravada begins to prove itself, as different gameplay features work together to create a surprisingly cohesive experience. The linear path, coupled with the reasonably fast pace of the combat, creates a sense of constant forward motion. This is further enhanced by the fact that your party heals by moving forward, encouraging constant progression.
Despite the simple environment, the gameplay is surprisingly diverse as you travel from area to area – there is a wide range of terrain types including caves, forests, snowy plains and more. The landscape serves more than merely aesthetic purposes; each area offers unique challenges, from falling rocks to stampeding herds. The linear path creates something akin to an obstacle course experience as you work to push onwards.
Movement and combat takes place on a grid but this should not be confused with more ponderous turn-based games. Commands are not issued one at a time. Instead, the whole party moves as a group when you drag your mouse in a particular direction, maintaining their formation as they move. Individual units can be dragged and dropped to create optimal formations, something that will matter more later in the game as positioning becomes essential.
Get This Party Started
Loot and leveling up are present here but they’re considerably more basic than some might expect from an RPG. Only the hero can be equipped with items and this feels somewhat limiting. All characters can be leveled up, and every five levels units can be upgraded to a new class. This has mainly statistical ramifications but it can change how a unit attacks (moving from melee to ranged or allowing it to attack two enemies simultaneously, for example). These traditional gameplay mechanics are augmented by the ability to copy enemy units and thus add them to your party, widening the range of options considerably.
Visually Bravada has its ups and downs. The environments are both varied and attractive but the units themselves can be a bit clunky. During combat many characters nudge into one another rather than fully animate while others are more dynamic. Generally it all comes together to form an attractive game with a few aesthetic niggles here and there.
Bald Faced Adventure
Bravada is an enjoyable and unique strategy/RPG experience that brings a fresh sense of pace to the genre, often feeling like an action/RPG/puzzle hybrid. Some may find Bravada’s gameplay disappointing, especially those looking for a fully-fledged RPG experience, but once you get past your expectations and take the game on its own merits you’ll find a well-designed, compelling title that will have you coming back for more.
Watch the trailer for Bravada: