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Bard's Gold Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Bard's Gold turns Spelunky into a more traditional action game. Collect hidden treasure through a series of increasingly difficult stages and then pour it into your character's attributes. Unfortunately, the repetition sets in quickly and keeps an otherwise solid platformer from reaching its full potential. Rating: 57%
Bard's Gold
Bard's Gold Bard's Gold Bard's Gold Bard's Gold
  • Review Score:

  • C+
Are you the kind of gamer who couldn't get into Spelunky because of the mechanics? You saw friends and critics rave about the hugely-popular platformer, but found the roguelike elements to be off-putting. If this sounds familiar, then let me introduce you to Bard's Gold, the brand new title from developer Erdem Sen. This retro-inspired release takes the best elements from Spelunky and turns them into a slightly more traditional action game.

You play the Bard, a silent hero who is out to find gold and fortune. He does this by tackling a series of increasingly difficult areas, each broken up into six challenging stages and a boss fight. The goal of each stage is to locate the key and open the door. That's it. But don't get too comfortable, because there are a bunch of enemies and traps looking to slow you down. One touch of the spikes will send our hero back to the start of that level.

Each stage is filled with treasure, both hidden and out in the open. Although it's possible to skip over the gold and gems, it's vitally important to collect everything. This is not only the way to buy extra live and weapons at the shop, but also upgrade our hero between games. After you've run out of lives and the game is over, Bard's Gold has you pour all your money into different abilities and attributes. You'll be able to increase the amount of lives you start with, how much treasure you find, the range of your weapon and more.

These role-playing elements are a great hook to keep you coming back for more. At first it will feel like the unfair difficulty is more than the Bard can handle. But after pouring your treasure into the different bonuses, the game opens up and becomes a lot easier. This is the kind of game that rewards players for playing through areas over and over, constantly grinding for shiny things to collect.

Bard's Gold (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

This ends up being the game's biggest problem. For a game built around replayability, there isn't enough variety to keep Bard's Gold interesting. The levels aren't procedurally generated like Spelunky, they are simply pulled from a library of designs. While it's nice that you won't always see the same levels in the same order, it won't take long for them to repeat. I found my interest in grinding through the levels diminished the moment that happened.

Even after you've upgraded your character and memorized the stage designs, you'll still suffer through a lot of cheap deaths. In that sense, it captures the spirit of Spelunky perfectly. An arrow will shoot out of nowhere if you aren't paying attention to every step and there are hidden spikes everywhere. This is the kind of game where you don't dare jump down too far, since there's almost always an enemy or bed of spikes waiting for you.

Bard's Gold (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The visuals look a lot like other recent throwback releases, using pixel characters to mimic games from the 1980s and 90s. While the enemies and bosses look great, I wish there were more types bad guys to avoid. Much like the level designs, you'll see all the same enemies and deal with them the exact same with every time. It just gets to a point where it's too repetitive for its own good.

All this grinding takes its toll early, well before there are dozens of attributes to level up multiple times. With shallow gameplay and only a few areas to play through, I had a hard time staying invested in Bard's Gold. It's a charming platformer that never lives up to its potential.
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