Once in a while, I come across a promising-looking game that no one's talking about so let's take the road less traveled with Baldo.
After watching the trailer for Baldo The guardian owls, I was pleased with what I saw as I have a soft spot for cute action adventure games. So, I gave it a go and I'm rather happy with what it has to offer overall although it's definitely not quite on par with many other games in the genre. Anyway, you play as a little fellow named Baldo who's on an adventure to uncover the mysteries of his magical world. Soon into the journey, he learns how to play a tune on his horn that can cause cool things to happen when used in certain spots via the power of the owls. At this point, he doesn't even have a sword to defend himself with but after solving many puzzles while working through the first dungeon which is an abandoned ship, he'll finally get his very own sword which opens the doors to combat.
Unfortunately, fighting enemies is one of the disappointing aspects of Baldo The guardian owls as all you do is swing your sword in the enemies' general direction until they bite the dust. Attacks don't feel like they actually connect but despite that, watching some of the defeat animations is surprisingly rewarding. In addition to the awkward combat, there are many more clunky elements such as how you're prompted to push immoveable boxes, falling long distances ends your life instantly, and switching between usable items in your inventory is incredibly cumbersome. As a result, you'll constantly find yourself struggling with tasks that would be simple in any other game.
Most of the challenge within Baldo The guardian owls relies on puzzle-solving and exploration. The puzzles themselves involve tasks such as pushing boxes, ringing bells in a certain order, uncovering key items to use somewhere, and toggling switches to move platforms. Overall, these puzzles are rather enjoyable, especially considering how intricate the dungeons are designed. Speaking of which, exploring the dungeons can be a treat because you'll discover many hidden treasures. On the other hand, navigating them becomes a huge pain due to the general lack of direction. Many of the rooms are interconnected and with no map, it can be frustrating to say the least.
On the plus side, there are oodles of rewarding side-quests that the cute and colourful NPCs give you and completing them is almost always worthwhile as you can acquire some super-helpful rewards such as an extended life meter. There are also lots of treasures to find throughout the world so exploration is satisfying, too. Plus, considering the fact that the game world is so vibrant, colourful, and quaint; discovering new areas to run around makes for a hearty reward on its own; that is, if you don't get completely lost.
Yes, Baldo The guardian owls is one of those games where you can completely lose track of what you were doing or where you were going. To help with this, there is an overworld map with highlighted areas that correspond to each story-based and optional quest but to know exactly where you are can be tricky. You can also activate and use warp points which is helpful. However, with uninformative quest descriptions and the unintuitive map, I sometimes felt like giving up simply because I didn't know what to do. With that in mind, there are no repercussions for failure in Baldo The guardian owls because whenever you perish, you simply respawn from seconds ago and can keep on truckin'. This also means that there's no real sense of challenge; aside from getting your bearings which is quite unfortunate.
Baldo The guardian owls is the sort of game that you'd dig out of a bargain bin but that's not necessarily a bad thing because some of my fondest gaming memories came from such bins. In other words, it may be clunky but you'll still appreciate what it has to offer.
- + Simple gameplay with plenty of practical puzzles that are quite rewarding
- + Colourful world with cute characters
- + Lots of side-quests and hidden treasures
- - Gameplay is rather clunky in almost every aspect from using items to combat
- - Virtually no consequence for failure
- - It's very easy to get completely lost