Review by Nicola Warren
If you are a fan of Rogue-Like games, then Bard’s Gold is most definitely the game for you! Bard’s Gold is a retro style platform game developed by Pixel Lantern in which you jump and double jump your way through spooky levels in the hunt for a goblin that steals your gold and jumps down a well in the opening scene of the game. The game is familiar to the likes of Alex Kidd, Rainbow Island and Super Mario.
This creepy 2d platformer brings you some of the usual suspect enemies which you would expect to find in a typical retro game like Bats, Goo, Skeletons, Flying Books and Random shooting daggers, yet you will have to play around a little to start with as there is no tutorial on what to do and how.
As soon as you start the game you will be given three game play options, Normal, Retro and Rogue-Like. As you can guess the normal mode is the easiest of the three, the level doesn’t randomise, you start with the most lives and you have check points. The retro mode has the same checkpoints as the normal level and doesn’t randomise yet you start this mode with less lives. Then you have rogue-like. The most difficult of the three modes where the levels randomise, there are no checkpoints, you have very little health and after you die you do not get the chance to upgrade anything.
The aim of each level is to find the key to the exit door while killing all enemies and collecting gems to power up as you go. Each of the levels has different platforms and layouts which makes each play through different and you can never guess which level you will get to next which makes the game a lot of fun. Every level has a few hidden or non-hidden doors that you will stumble across, one of the most popular ones you will see are a greenish colour door with shop above… no need to tell you what that is! When entering the shop, you will be given the option of ten or so different items all with different abilities which you can purchase with the gems you have collected to help you through the game. My personal favourites are the triple blade, the shield, the magic glasses and the speed boots. Now the magic glasses are where the other doors come in to it, when you are wearing them you will see little sparkles on the screen, if you shoot them, you’ll either get extra gems, bits of a collectable map or … you got it… doors. These hidden doors take you to other levels where the timer stops, and you can grab some extra gems to help you through the game and when you leave the hidden level you’ll go right back to where you were on the level you left. As I just mentioned there is a timer in the game which on the normal mode you get 3 mins to complete a level and 2 minutes on retro…but once the timer runs out beware! Fireballs start falling from the sky and you better get your dodging shoes on! The key element to Bard’s Gold for me is double jumping, especially if you are running low on time because you will fast learn to jump and more so double jump over enemies which will consume a lot of time to kill otherwise.
When you die in the game all of your items and power ups you have collected or purchased in the store will be removed, that is unless you have a shield, in which case they will be saved for one death and once you use up all of your lives you die completely… but this isn’t a bad thing. It seems the aim of the game is to die because when you do you can then use your gems to upgrade your skills and life. Doing this will help you get stronger and live longer through the levels again building up a stronger defence each time giving you more and more of a chance to survive until you actually do. It is a very easy plot to follow, defeat enemies, collect gems and keys, go to the next level, upgrade skill books, and defeat the bosses. You can’t really get simpler than that!
Bard’s Gold is made up of some really good retro graphics, but they are sadly let down slightly by the dull colouring. The controls are very simple which is pleasing and there are many skills and abilities to unlock as you work your way through the different levels. You will find that you will die a lot in this game especially towards the beginning, but that’s okay, it’s the aim of the game! There are plenty of bosses to take on and the different array of weapons you can choose from in the shop makes it different and fun giving us some challenging game play. The one thing that really niggled me in the game though is the soundtrack. Don’t misunderstand me, the soundtrack does enhance the game and its morbid and creepy dungeon setting but there is only a short segment of music, roughly 50 seconds or so which is repeated over and over again. Not only does it get very boring and tedious but after around an hour of listening to it, I really wanted to throw my Nintendo Switch across the room, so needless to say I turned the volume off.
Bard’s Gold is a great side scroller with a nice slice of death. It can be slow paced at times but the secrets that are a big part of the game mixed with the chances of instant death makes it very challenging. The game may take you a while to complete, especially if you are going for all of the hidden rooms and achievements but as long as you have patience you will do well!
Overall, I give Bard’s Gold 7/10