Giga Geek Magazine was gifted with access to an early build of the game. All of the opinions in this article are for that early version, some things are subject to change as more is developed.
Independent developers never cease to amaze me. Some of my favorite games of all time have come from these smaller studios, which is refreshing in an age of micro-transactions, always online checks, and broken releases. Songbringer comes from humble folks—inspired by the top down days of Legend of Zelda—and is shaping up to be a memorable classic.
Songbringer is a procedurally generated adventure through mysterious locales, slashing baddies with a nano-sword or tossing a boomerang top hat. Created by a single man with ambition beyond mortals, Nathan Weis is crafting a science fiction love letter to Zelda. Not only is Weis making this one solo, after twenty years or so of being a developer, but he’s also been streaming daily on Twitch. Keeping it simple, Songbringer won’t have A-list actors doing voice overs, or music played by an orchestra; however, that gives it charm.
Primarily, there are two ways to play Songbringer: normal mode will let the hero die to respawn like a normal adventure game, and permanent death mode, which is exactly what it sounds like, turning the whole game into a rogue-like game similar to Binding of Isaac.
Playing around with the build sent to me by Weis, there is a lot to love already. Combat is simple and familiar, using items assigned to buttons and swinging a sword. While combat is essential to survive, there is a heavier focus on exploration. The system generates a fairly large overworld, with areas that require specific items before you can explore.
Dungeons also spawn throughout this strange planet. During my time with Songbringer, I saw the conquering of four dungeons. There weren’t any real puzzles to challenge the sword wielding hero, but there were plenty of enemy types to learn. Demons lower their head and charge with their wicked horns, and little bugs attack in large groups. There are some rooms that have way too many enemies in them, turning the challenge into mashing every item to try and survive.
One of the few criticisms I have for the game is the lack of music. Of course this is bound to come in later builds, but it made the world eerily silent. Overall the sound design is interesting with droning pulses and bit-crushed attack effects, but that lack of music made me realize just how important it is in games like this. Imagine Hyrule Field without that iconic score; it would feel wrong. Once again, the build I played was an early one, so music is probably in the works.
Songbringer is an incredibly ambitious project for a single creator. That alone, the game deserves a large amount of praise. As a game amidst a sea of others, Songbringer does stand out as more than a simple tribute. Its themes and style are excellent and the gameplay is familiar enough to understand in seconds, while building on that framework.
In short, there is a mass amount of potential for this project. I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for future builds and the inevitable release of Songbringer. Beyond that, Weis will be a developer to watch for his creativity and sheer willpower.
To see the game in action, check out my preview below.