Brave: A Warrior's Tale Review

By Kyle Wynen on September 2, 2009

Not many games use the mythology of Native America as inspiration for an original game's story, but at least one title is on that list, Brave: A Warrior's Tale. Collision Studios and SouthPeak Interactive have brought Brave to the Xbox 360 (and also the PSP and Wii), but the title is actually a port of a 2007 PS2 game by the name of Brave: The Search for Spirit Dancer. Without many changes since then, lead character Brave is back with the same story of his struggle against the evil Wendigo, which leads him on a search to find the only warrior up to the task of saving his village, the Spirit Dancer.

Brave: A Warrior's Tale, simply put, is a kid-friendly adventure game without much complexity or depth; fair enough, as kid-geared games traditionally focus on gameplay and fun-factor. The game starts out with the village chief retelling a story about the great crisis of the Wendigo, a powerful demonic monster strong enough to slay entire villages. The story the chief retells is in-fact the game itself, as the chief tells of the young warrior, Brave. At the beginning of the story Brave is not yet a warrior, but still in training. Soon after sharpening his skills as a warrior Brave's village is invaded by the Wendigo, and Brave is the only one left with a fighting chance to save his tribe's home.

Gameplay is quite simple as the game is a button-masher through and through, and not even a passable one at that. Brave's assortment of weapons throughout the game are quite limited, as he starts out using sticks, and then a hatchet and bow, with ice-picks and a tomahawk joining the arsenal at specific points in the game too. Brave is also endowed with the ability to absorb and use spirit energy to temporarily boost his performance as well. The button-masher combat consists of flailing around whatever weapon is at hand, hoping the hit-detection works, without much strategy past that. Hordes of beetles are common adversaries in the game, and it's completely effortless to just keep swinging around Brave's hatchet and walk through the horde.

Lacking any sort of defense ability within the combat system is a serious annoyance. The range of difficulty between the extremely-small-spectrum of enemies is huge. Beetles are as difficult as spreading butter on toast, while fighting skeleton warriors without spirit energy is beyond frustrating. With no defense Brave simply falls backward onto the ground when hit, where skeleton warriors proceed to stomp his body into the dirt; only then can Brave counter and leap into the air. As these enemies are not interrupted by any of Brave's attacks, their attacks are unjustly relentless. Nevertheless, at times Brave is given other abilities to fight, but only for short, one time fights in the game, like possessing a grizzly bear.

Long before Brave: A Warrior's Tale even finishes introducing the story and characters, the key fault of the game kicks in full-force: glitches. After falling through the ground in the middle of a path into nothingness and then simply being stuck in some rocks in the environment, the first real game-breaking glitch occurred when attempting to burn down a blanket that was blocking a path. While inspecting the blanket Brave simply fell down, and appeared on the other side in an animation glitch. Continuing on, the next obstacle was a gate of thorns, and upon defeating some crows, the thorn gate is supposed to open, however it did not. The original blanket gate was no longer accessible, and after intentionally dying a number of times to try to sort out the glitch, the gates finally opened after killing the crows for the umpteenth time. However, upon walking through the obviously opened passage of thorns, Brave again could not, as there was still an invisible wall that inflicted damage when walked into, meaning the wall of thorns was certainly still there, just not visibly. Reseting the game and burning the original blanket gate fixed this in the end. This is just one of the many aggravating glitches in the game alongside enemies simply disappearing, animation glitches, walking on the bottom of rivers, and continuing to fall through the world at quite inopportune moments.

Continuing the low quality standard of the game, the graphics and sound in Brave: A Warrior's Tale could easily be mistaken as a PlayStation 2 game, well, because it is a PlayStation 2 game still, just on the Xbox 360. The graphics look like a poor PS2 game at that, with terrible animation, and limp voice acting and sound effects. As example, massive boulders collapsing beneath Brave's feet should not sound like a small bag of rocks being shuffled around. How the developers behind this game could still manage to have the frame-rate stutter during some battles is a feat in-itself considering the poor, last-generation visuals present here. The camera is also mostly an after-thought, though not too bad compared to the rest of the game design. The in-game cinematics are embarrassing to watch as well; ultimately the game would have been less of a headache to drudge through if the poorly written story and script were left out entirely.

The single highlight of the entire game that deserves due credit is one occurrence when fighting a pack of wolves in the arctic. Wolves were the only remotely engaging enemies in the game, with the best part being finishing them off. Knocking a wolf through the air and into a tree trunk felt great as continuing to shoot a flurry of arrows at the wolf literally nailed it to the tree trunk, up in the air. In that moment a small glimmer of hope was born that Brave: A Warrior's Tale might get better, but as Brave himself glitched and fell through the world within a minute later, that glimmer of hope fizzled out.

In a final display, the poor game design of Brave: A Warrior's Tale climaxed during the climax of the game itself. In the end battle, while things are getting quite heated and the difficulty is picking up and things seem to be getting fun and engaging, the battle simply stops dead. As you may recall, the entire game is a story being retold by the village chief; well, the chief decides to stop telling the story in the middle of the climax, and sends the boy listening on a few completely useless quests, which must be completed before the final battle continues. This couldn't leave a worse taste in players' mouths you would think, but with almost no replayability present in the game beyond a few collectables during stages, Brave: A Warrior's Tale manages to make that taste even more bitter.

Final Thoughts

In all, there is literally nothing worth playing Brave: A Warrior's Tale for. Why this game has been ported in the first place is confusing as it was originally poorly received on the PlayStation 2. The game has only become worse in the transition from PS2 to Xbox 360, and the game likes to remind players of this with frequent glitches. The embarrassingly poor game design and story couldn't have put the mythology of Native America to worse use, enough said.

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