Reviewed by Thomas
The Braveland series has been around for several years. Initially launching in 2014, this strategy game is akin to Heroes of Might and Magic. The Nintendo Switch version offers three books in the Braveland Trilogy. It’s hard to say if this version offers the best value for the content when compared to other platforms out there. At the time of this writing, Braveland Trilogy is priced middle of the pack for Nintendo Switch. The mobile version coming in at the lower end while steam is priced higher.
Braveland Trilogy is presented as three books. Each one features a different hero and builds upon the next in terms of game-play elements. The first book, simply titled Braveland follows the tale of a young lad. This farmer-turned-soldier finds his village ransacked and embarks on a quest to uncover the culprit. Braveland Wizard is the second entry in the trilogy. The heroine is an apprentice at the school of magic. To become a full fledged wizard she must complete a final trial. The third and final entry is Braveland Pirate. Young Jim decides to join a pirate crew. At sea, these innocent pirates are accosted by evil ghosts and shipwrecked on a deserted island. Each story is essentially the same. Your hero bands together with like minded individuals. They slowly build an army of assorted warriors and traverse the lands seeking justice for the downtrodden. The stories in Braveland are simplistic and cliche. The dialogue is brief and sometimes humorous. Though the writing won’t be winning any awards, it serves its purpose to get your character from point A to point B. Since the heroes don’t participate in battle and are a simple avatar on the world map, I found it hard to care about their individual tales. Well, with one exception which I’ll touch on below.
Braveland Trilogy has two parts of gameplay. First is exploration of the world map. You move your avatar from point to point. The routes are stagnant and predetermined. This isn’t an open world where you can go as you please. Throughout each map you can find relics to boost your hero. There are also locations to buy troops to increase your army or items for your hero. Side quests are triggered by following branching paths throughout each map. Braveland is the most basic entry with no replay value once the world map is fully explored and the campaign complete. Braveland Wizard offers a few dungeons where you can compete in additional battles for more experience and gold. Even these dungeons closed after a set amount of attempts. Braveland Wizard also introduces a deeper leveling system for the hero. Each entry in the Braveland series evolves and builds off its predecessor. Braveland Pirate is no different. It boasts more randomness with battles at sea. You also have more freedom in exploration. Despite these additions, each book gives little reason to stay in its world once you complete the main story. There’s a finite leveling system and your army is bound by a point system to keep you from becoming too strong.
The battles make up the second portion of the game. Braveland Trilogy is a turn-based strategy title. Each character on the board represents a larger force. The number associated with each one is the amount of troops for any given warrior type. In reality, it acts as the hit-point counter. If your troop is reduced to zero, they are incapacitated until the end of battle where they are automatically revived. The combat is simple and requires little actual strategy. Most skirmishes result in a slugfest to see which unit can outlast the other. Each board uses hexagonal tiles for movement. Ranged units can attack from afar while melee units charge in for hand to hand combat with counterattacks on either side. The variety of maps give the illusion that strategy and placement is key for your army. I was disappointed that the barriers on some boards didn’t block ranged attacks. The main heros have little impact on each battle. Eventually you can use spells and skills that they learn in each encounter. Braveland Pirate is the exception. The hero Jim takes to the field to fight alongside those he commands like a true general. I liked that addition as it bound me to Jim’s well being and overall story much more than the others.
With Fire and Sword
Braveland Trilogy also includes a Duel mode. Here you can complete with another player in couch co-op. It was fun challenging my kids to strategic duels. When you begin a multiplayer match, each person selects a hero. In addition to the main heroes of the stories, you can also chose the villians and control their armies. It was nice to take control of your enemy and see how their moves and skills worked. Multiplayer is restricted to set armies however. You can only pick the hero and their army is preset with no customization. I found some armies are stacked better against others and despite my decades of strategy game experience, I suffered heavy defeat at the joy-con of my ten year old daughter. Perhaps my wounded ego is more to blame for that criticism.
The Art of War
The hand drawn graphics of the characters is charming. I liked how the troops moved on the battlefield. Watching the little feet of your armored swordsmen shuffle across the screen or the large tree-trunk arm of an Ent smash down on enemies was satisfying. The sound effects were fitting and the background music was pleasant. Thanks to Braveland’s mobile roots, the game runs perfectly in handheld mode. The touch controls are spot on. I found myself using the touch screen as my preferred method of play. That’s not to say the game didn’t look good on the television. Despite its mobile heritage, it presented very well on the big screen.
Braveland Trilogy is not a deeply complex strategy title. As a veteran strategy gamer, I could play this in my sleep. That doesn’t stop it from being fun though. I actually found its casual approach pleasurable. I enjoyed my time in Braveland. Having a bite size strategy game on the go for brief excursions works well with Nintendo Switch. It’s certainly targeted for a more casual gamer or someone new to the strategy genre. I would recommend strategy veterans to watch for a sale as they won’t find a challenge in Braveland.
- Control Varied Troops
- Cute Graphics
- Casual Game-play
- Thin Strategy
- Little Replay Value
- Casual Game-play