Bravada is a unique game for many reasons. For one, it is a strategic turn based, lane RPG, which is something I have never seen before. Even stranger is the main character, a beardless dwarf, which is a rare occurrence in fantasy. It is a charming, albeit simplistic game that is better in short doses rather than long playthroughs.
You play a dwarf with one very apparent problem: he has no beard! This is an issue, because all dwarves have beards! Along with his talking bat companion, he must embark on a quest to find a solution to his beardless dilemma. The story pokes fun at the fact that he is a dwarf without a beard, but it doesn’t harp on the subject too much which causes the joke to never tire out.
Gameplay on the other hand, can get very tiring after long bouts. Using the keyboard, or controller you move the dwarf, and his ever increasing band of companions down a lane where they face off against various foes. The fighting happens automatically when an enemy comes into range, allowing for fast paced gameplay, while maintaining the strategic placement of your dwarf and his companions.
To keep you from growing bored of moving up a straight path, you have access to several different abilities and powerups. You have your traditional boosts like an armor buff of course, or bombs that cause AOE damage, but there are also some more unique ones as well. There is a powerup to turn back your turn in case you made a terrible mistake, and they even give you the ability to possess an enemy, and turn them into an ally.
Companions are a fundamental part to the game, and you can specialize them to perform certain tasks, such as heal you. However, they tend to be more vulnerable to death than the beardless protagonist. When one of your companions does die, they are gone for good. With every death of a companion, you are granted the ability to possess an enemy. This makes your roster of companions dynamic, and thus takes away from the monotony of the lane based gameplay.
The RPG elements only come in when dealing with the main character. When your dwarf levels up, you can choose to increase either his health, armor, or damage. Also, while playing, you will come across weapons and armor that you can equip to increase your hero’s statistics. While basic, I found the addition of these elements to aid in the overall depth of the game
The visual assets are nothing special up close, but look decent enough from far away. The problem I ran into is that the game insists on showing you the characters, and other models close up. The cutscenes are done in a grey-scale picture format with text below for dialogue. I cannot say I was too much of a fan of this either, mostly because it felt lazy, and didn’t match the rest of the game’s color pallet.
One of the first things you will notice in Bravada, is its excellent soundtrack. The opening theme on the menu is superb, and I found myself leaving the game running after I stopped playing just to hear the track play. It does a good job to make up for the ho-hum sound effects, which were anything but special.