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Songbringer Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Songbringer is an adventure game that takes inspiration from the original Legend of Zelda and creates something fresh and fun. It doesn't merely take the popular tropes, but builds on them and then shoves it all into a procedurally-generated world. It's occasionally repetitive and some may balk at the challenge, but I couldn't take my eyes off of this debut release from Wizard Fu Games. You're in for a real treat. Rating: 78%
Songbringer
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  • Review Score:

  • B+
A few years ago there was a game called 3D Dot Game Heroes that attempted to recreate the fun of the original 8-bit Legend of Zelda by using 3D voxel graphics. I liked the game and found it easy to recommend, but a part of me always felt like it was copying more than reinventing. It was basically just the original Zelda with different graphics. That's not the case with Songbringer, the debut release from Oakland-based developer Wizard Fu Games. While it bears more than a passing resemblance to a certain Nintendo classic, Songbringer actually bothers to come up with some original ideas. Whether or not those new ideas improve on theme is certainly worth talking about.

This is the story of a young man named Roq, who is one of the crewmembers aboard the spaceship Songbringer. They've anchored near the planet Ekzera, which I'm sure you already know is two jumps deep along Orion and right next to the star Bellatrix. Anyway, the planet is supposed to be abandoned after the Great War, but when they send down a scouting party, something goes seriously wrong. Our hero and his robot buddy Jib are struck by an unexpected bolt and sent falling to their deaths.


The good news is that they don't die. Roq and Jib wake up on a mysterious planet with a mission to locate his fellow crewmates and reestablish communication with the Songbringer. But here's the bad news: Mere minutes into his quest, Roq decides to take a glowing sword and accidentally unleashes a terrible curse on the planet. Little does he know how much that rash decision is going to complicate his life.

Songbringer is a procedurally-generated adventure game where the goal is to travel through a series of dungeons and kill all the monsters. It's also about finding the crew, but let's be honest, the real star here is fighting large monsters and solving puzzles. We'll pick up a wide variety of weapons, collect the hundreds of items, clear out every dungeon and even travel back to the ship to combine objects. Best of all, you can tackle a lot of the game in any order you want, though some of the later dungeons will definitely kick your butt if you don't have enough health.

Now when I say that the world is procedurally-generated, I don't want you to take that to mean that Songbringer is a roguelike. It's not. I mean, it can be if you fiddle with the options, but by default, it's not. It's also not the kind of "procedurally-generated" where everything feels random and thrown together by a computer. It is thrown together by a computer, obviously, but it gives off the impression that some care was put into constructing the world and dungeons. Had I not known going in, there's a chance I would have gone through a large chunk of this game not realizing it was procedurally-generated.

Songbringer (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

That said, you do run into some of the problems so common with this type of game. Probably the most obvious issue is that you'll start to notice recycled rooms used throughout the different dungeons. Thankfully, there's enough variety here to where that is rarely an issue, but there are moments that will remind you how this world was constructed.

What I found that I really liked about Songbringer was the combat. Not necessarily the hack and slashing, but just how many weapons you can hold at once. There's a top hat that works like a boomerang and can pick up items from far away, bombs that can be used to open up new areas, a blink orb to get you out of trouble and more. All of these moves are mapped to different buttons, so there are always a lot of ways to kill the monsters. Sure, the game is occasionally challenging and maybe even a little frustrating, but it's not because of the gameplay.

Have I mentioned that I love the graphics? Because I do. I love the way this game looks. It uses a distinct style that simultaneously evokes the spirit of the original Legend of Zelda while having a completely different look. It's not really how old school games looked, but rather how I imagine they look in my head. I never once got bored exploring the procedurally-generated world because I never wanted to stop looking at the graphics.

Songbringer (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

My one major complaint is that the game feels a bit repetitive at times. I had a problem where the dungeons started to blur together, though there is some effort to add new elements in each one. I couldn't shake the concern that if the world of Songbringer was the same for everybody, perhaps the developers would have been able to play around with more compelling puzzles and dungeon designs. On the other hand, I can see the appeal of playing through the game multiple times with different layouts. There's certainly a trade-off, both good and bad.

Songbringer is an adventure game that takes inspiration from the original Legend of Zelda and creates something fresh and fun. It doesn't merely take the popular tropes, but builds on them and then shoves it all into a procedurally-generated world. It's occasionally repetitive and some may balk at the challenge, but I couldn't take my eyes off of this debut release from Wizard Fu Games. You're in for a real treat.
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