I know, you’re thinking, why are they having someone who isn’t a videogame expert reviewing a videogame (again)? Well, perhaps there are some of you out there who, like me, haven’t played many of the post-Tetris big game behemoths and you want to see how the game would be for you. I haven’t played Legend of Zelda. I haven’t played World of Warcraft. I haven’t even played regular Warcraft. So please take this review in that context. Here is my review of the Wii version of Brave: A Warrior’s Tale.
The storyline of Brave: A Warrior’s Tale is quite interesting. The game starts by telling the background story featuring a native American village elder, Brave, telling his tales of saving his village from evil when he was young. Among others, he shares his stories with a village child, Courage, who perhaps holds great promise for the future. So for much of the game, you are living out and controlling Brave’s experiences in a flashback. The main goal of the game is to collect the 48 secret totems hidden throughout the land.
Between tasks, they tell more of the story to introduce you to the next task. There is a lot of exploring and wandering around until you figure out what to do, however. Perhaps all games of this type are this way, but it was new to me. I felt lost most of the time, like I didn’t know what I was doing. And sometimes some of the video and play are closely interspersed, causing a lot of watching and then frantic play.
Every time I played, I felt like I had some new thing to figure out, and I referred to the manual often. The buttons do different things depending on what part of the game you’re in, and in what view you currently have.
The first time I looked at the manual, I knew I was in for a steep learning curve. Almost all of the buttons on both the Wiimote and the nunchuck are used. Possible actions are so varied as to include conventional movement, jumping, double jumping, swimming, attacking, tracking, rolling, magic, speaking, fishing, uprooting, reading, lighting fire, mimicking, diving, firing arrows, throwing objects, using the mobile stone, changing point of view, using spirit charge, re-centering camera (I used this one more than you’d think), spearing fish, ice climbing and more. In addition, you can possess animals, use spirit energy and even transform into a bear. At first, you can just use sticks as weapons, but eventually you get a bow and arrows, and a tomahawk.
As Brave moves around in the game, he just turns around instead of changing the player’s point of view. You have to constantly re-center your point of view so you can look at what you want to be looking at. And sometimes this causes you to miss seeing what you need to see, such as what to jump to next. The graphics in the game are a little dated. The text they use is pretty small and very hard to read, and the menus are not at all intuitive. Also, I found I frequently lost interest in the game, and kept having to put it down for a while.
If you want to work off of a different saved game, it’s not initially clear how to do this. I think my son accidentally played my saved game at least once. The game saves with the name of the scene you’re on, and doesn’t allow you to give it a name yourself, such as “Mommy’s Game – Don’t Touch!” or even just “Jenny”.
There are a few things that I have wondered about the game. They let you choose your gender in the beginning, so I chose female. But then the storyline turned into the flashback and I was controlling a boy, which was confusing initially. The page numbers in the manual’s table of contents are a bit off. This is pretty important when the game controls are complicated enough to require frequent manual referencing. Also, it isn’t clear how to save your game. There is an autosave that seems to save your game whenever it thinks it needs to do so. But whenever you quit, it warns you that you’ll lose progress.
Despite the animated violence in the game, my 5 year old son really enjoys it. He will explore and explore and explore, trying out every possible combination of things before moving on. So it seems to be an entry-level exploring/manual dexterity type of game, for kids or adults with a long attention span that are new to this type of game. But for an entry-level game, the controls and difficulty getting around are pretty tricky. And the graphics aren’t too fancy. But if you like exploring and fighting games, Brave: A Warrior’s Tale is worth checking out. It is available for the Wii and the Xbox 360. Its $29.99 price tag, however, suggests more replay-ability or nicer graphics than it has.
Wired: A wide variety of tasks to complete and challenges to overcome. A very interesting storyline. Infinite lives, where you get a new one whenever your energy meter runs out, sometimes moving back a bit in the game.
Tired: Complicated controls, dated graphics and unintuitive menus.