No Place for Bravery is a title capable of attracting attention from the first glance, thanks to a stylish and original pixel art, alongside a gameplay that recalls that of a 2D soulslike. We are therefore in front of a seemingly explosive mix, which leads many indie fans to wonder if the title is really worth playing. So let’s see what we have in front of our review!
The story of a father
The story of No Place for Bravery starts from very interesting premises, but it is decidedly not very thorough and, sadly, not too exciting. The game starts by showing us a journey between the protagonist and his daughter, who are now on their way back home. Before arriving at the village, however, the girl comes kidnapped by a sorcerer and disappears into thin air. In a desperate attempt to search, the protagonist then throws himself against a horde of demons, in order to reach the sorcerer and save his daughter.
At the end of this short fight, however, the man finds himself in front of one of his doppelgangers which, once killed, reveals a child locked up inside, with irremediably broken legs. Our hero then decides to adopt it like her son, but sadly cannot find the child.
The story continues many years laterwhen the protagonist runs into the sorcerer again and, in the renewed hope of finding his lost daughter, sets out on his trail. A very interesting opening thenwhich immediately shows the dark and cruel world of No Place for Bravery, made up of violence, monsters, and a general apocalypse that has led men to take refuge in cities to escape the dangers of the world.
Exploring you can then find fragments of loreas well as PNG to talk to, which allow you to understand much more about the game world and the general story. Excellent conditionswhich, however fail to materialize never in an exciting story or lore. Everything remains too linear, not very thorough and generally not very exciting. In other words, beautiful but not beautiful.
Nothing is forgiven in No Place for Bravery
However, No Place for Bravery seems to focus everything on gameplay and, in particular, on fighting. The title comes as a dungeon crawler that borrows some mechanics from Dark Souls, but nonetheless differentiating from the latter. The gameplay loop sees us advance in dungeons that alternate enemies, traps and the occasional puzzlewith few pauses for dialogue or game HUBs without hostile enemies.
Traps are not too big of an obstacle and are mostly reduced to environmental obstacles, such as arrows, flames or ravines. The puzzles are instead real rooms, where you can avoid traps and enemies, while trying to activate switches or overcome particularly complex situations. The focus of No Place for Bravery, however, is the fighting, definitely the largest part of the experience. In other words, we fight. And there is a lot of fighting.
The clashes are based on a few, simple mechanics. We have available three weaponswith which you can perform basic and charged attacks and each of these has a specific moveset and strengths and weaknesses (for example the sword is faster and safer than the hammer, which instead does huge damage leaving us uncovered).
Then there is the possibility of parry and parry enemy shots. Many hits from the most powerful monsters and bosses, however, can alone be countered by a parry successful, which is therefore a central mechanic in the experience. However, these actions consume a stamina bar which, if exhausted, leaves us exposed and stunned. The same rules apply to enemies though.
The result is a combat system that starts from excellent foundationsforcing the player to manage stamina, then taking into consideration enemy weaknesses and in general preventing spamming compulsive thanks to the massive damage suffered with each hit. Still, we are not in front of a perfect title.
A small flaw concerns the aiming system of our shotsthat strangely does not always follow the direction where we point the mouse cursor. For example, it happens to point an enemy at the top of the screen, only to see the slash / parry in the opposite direction. Surely something you get used to, but a flaw nonetheless to deal with. Then there is a too small parry window, which makes some incoming damage really inexplicable, which instead seem blocked.
All this, while being fun and well thought out, is sadly ruined by a unintelligent level design and a poor variety of enemies. In the latter case, the consequences are a general repetition of the game and, continuing the adventure, an inevitable lowering of difficulty given by the excessive predictability of the shots.
In the first case, however, we are faced with a major defect. In fact, it happens to come across situations where there is a sudden high peak of difficultywhich however is not given by a particular tactical situation, but simply by a very large number of enemies or by archers placed in places too difficult to reach. Added to this is a fixed shot that sometimes doesn’t allow you to see where the enemies are until their arrows enter the field of view.
It is therefore not a question of well-thought-out challenges, where perhaps you need to exploit the mechanics properly to be able to get out of them, but simply of little thought of situationswhere is it the difficulty is artificially created by numerous enemiesbadly positioned or an unfair level design.
Moreover, the excellent foundations from which the combat system starts they are never “deepened” with mechanics or enemies that can add layers of depth to the formulabut they tend to remain similar throughout the game, with few additions, mainly given by the unlockable active skills.
No Place for Bravery it is therefore a dungeon crawler where you advance, defeat enemies, overcome traps and puzzles, and then kill other enemies. In all of this, it is possible unlock active skills that expand the protagonist’s move parkor collect items that can be exploited to get out of various situations. Surely we are therefore faced with a successful formula, fun and suitable for fans of the genre, but still undermined by defects that lower the overall quality.
Pure pixel art
No Place for Bravery boasts a truly excellent technical sector, which offers the player detailed sprites, always well-defined environments and animations that manage to be satisfying most of the time. The close-ups in which the enemies are dismembered are in fact animated well in most cases, but are too “jerky” in others, with animations that skip frames.
The art sector, on the other hand, is the most successful part of No Place for Bravery. The game boasts a truly spectacular game world to see, thanks to fascinating environments, always spectacular landscapes and a dark aesthetic that has style to spare.
The same goes for the sound sectorcomposed of excellent tracks perfect to accompany the various moments and which help to outline the atmosphere of the title.