Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5
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Bardbarian is quite the mash-up of genres. Part tower defense game, part shoot-em-up, part RPG, with a dash of grinding, it's certainly an original proposition.
Players control Brad, a barbarian who is fed up of his current violent occupation and just wants to make music. So that's exactly what he does, fashioning his axe into a lute and inspiring the village folk to fight invaders with the power of music. It's typically outlandish and works well as the backdrop to some entertaining chaos.
Using a one-touch approach, players run around the village area collecting gold and musical notes from fallen enemies in order to spend such currency on new recruits. These recruits then do the fighting for Brad, attacking through a variety of different means. As is typical of a tower defense game, new units are unlocked the further that one traverses within the game. Bardbarian only has 21 waves of attack within the story mode but there's plenty to sink one's teeth into here. The shoot-em-up element comes from the need to avoid the 'bullets' that come from enemies, sapping at Brad and his team's strength and HP bar. In later stages it can be quite hectic.
Much of the time spent playing Bardbarian involves grinding for gold, to an extent. Gold is used to buy upgrades for the units, as well as the village and Brad himself. This means that while things might seem very tricky early on, it's not long before one can work their way steadily through the waves. It's a satisfying way of doing things, giving players plenty of flexibility as to what they want to upgrade next.
Brad has his own set of buffs as well as a stun attack that can be used to temporarily incapacitate foes, but the stars here are the village folk. Archers, brawlers, wizards, healers, and many more different types of units can be used here, with players able to pick and choose however they wish.
Together it forms a fun and varied way of playing. Simple to lose oneself to with plenty of reason to keep playing, in the form of new upgrades, Bardbarian is an entertaining mix of familiar types bringing new life to some old ideas.