Songbringer Review, PSN platform
Available formats: PS4, Xbox One, PC (steam).
Songbringer is a top-down retro action game in the vein of the 8 & 16 bit Zelda titles. The unique selling point here is that the world is ‘procedurally generated’ which, in theory, means you’ll never play the same game twice. Officially, the synopsis is: “You play the role of protagonist and accidental hero, Roq Epimetheos. With a propensity for partying and making music, he cruises the galaxy with his skybot Jib aboard the ship Songbringer, searching for verdant planets absent the presence of galactic police.”
Sounds pretty sweet, but in practice it’s an excuse for killing things in dungeons. That’s a good thing though, if you’re a fan of these kinds of games. It’s part sci-fi, part medieval, and part trippy weirdness. The soundtrack has an old-school MIDI feel, and the graphics fall somewhere between NES and SNES in quality. It definitely recreates the feel of an early 90s action adventure, as you can see in a gameplay example below. If you enjoy watching bad game players suffer, I die at the end, or rather “give in to the fear”, which is how you end up at the game over screen.
The above video is an example of one dungeon, and there are 9 other dungeons to complete in the game as well as overworld missions and peculiar people to interact with. It’s pretty tough due to the low amounts of health given to you at the start and the enemies can be quite powerful. Your primary weapon is the titular “songbringer” which is a big ass sword that makes a cool effect when swung. Other weapons, such as explosives, become available, and are necessary for progression in various areas of the game.
Being procedurally generated it is totally open and non-linear meaning you can attack the dungeons in any order you like. A cool thing with the generated worlds is that each 6 letter input creates a unique world, however, if you re-input the same 6 characters it will create the same world. If you input the same 6 letter character on a different platform it will generate the same world, meaning you can challenge people to beat your time regardless of the system they’re playing on. This is particularly useful for speed runners of course.
Overall, it does what it says on the tin. It evokes a ‘zelda’ feel with the dungeons but falls far short of the quality of those games. That’s to be expected given the small nature of the developer, so isn’t a criticism per se. I actually think it was all designed by one person, which is actually pretty impressive. With that in mind I would recommend it to gamers of a certain age, like me, who have rose-tinted spectacles of a gaming era from too long ago.
6 out of 10