Welcome to our review of Baldo: the Guardian Owls, the Ghibli-esque game that looks the part but is something to be avoided though…
Journey through a magical land teeming with mysteries to unravel. Baldo: the Guardian Owls is full of challenging puzzles to solve and intricate dungeons to explore. Traverse this captivating open-world as Baldo, and meet a host of quirky and unforgettable characters, as you struggle to decipher the cryptic prophecy, and thwart destiny.
From delightful whimsy to thrilling adventure, discover new towns and their distinctive inhabitants, fight ferocious foes, locate hidden temples, and collect objects both magical and mundane to obtain powerful new weapons, or to help unveil the myriad secrets of this strange land.
Before starting my review, I want to make one thing clear, I am a big fan of the art work in games like these, I don’t think we ever had a game where Zelda was matched with Ghibli and the thought of this game, the first time I saw it, was just to buy it instantly as it became available. What prevented me from doing so, the mixed reviews it got. From truly horrible to nearly unplayable and needless side missions only made to stretch the gameplay hours, …. Some reviewers were not kind and well, they were completely right.
It starts from the very start, a single overlay with how to play the game, unclear as it was, that is it. There is absolutely no guidance when it comes down to the game mechanics and I have to call them garbage really. Heck, I know as a reviewer I am spoiled to be able to play games for free, but when I think that some might spend real-life money to play this game, I just cry inside.
The entire game revolves around the hero that comes once every bla bla bla, you know what the story is about. Your main item to use at first is a horn, which you first need to select, then confirm your selection and then press another button to actually play it. The lack of common sense in this mechanic is far beyond my comprehension and yes, you can call me lazy for not following the preset way to play, but is it really supposed to be this complicated?
Talking about complicated, the entire menu is just designed by what appears to be mid-century designers, it is that basic. Not to forget that every time one of the menus has a new entry or so, you get a notice on top of your screen that will stay there until you actually enter the menu to get rid of it. This was more of an annoyance in the hours I played than I would like to admit, it ticked me off a lot. It is just like the designers of this game system never played the game themselves.
Now the game is not all bad, if you can look past almost everything that is not design-related. Sure, most puzzles are very unclear and parts of the screen often hide way too much. Imagine getting cornered by a rat, the lowest of enemies in most RPG games, being unable to escape due to the nature of the game and then luckily at least have a quick revive at the same screen. That was probably the best side of this game, dying never really got bad.
Sure, you die quite often, not the only thing wrong with the game, I just felt like the hype and anticipation I had for this game, it just got shattered by just about everything. Reaction time of your actions can also get a little off which hurts during boss fights, I found that out the hard way.
Now, let us talk about the best thing, its graphics. I am a big fan of Ghibli and even visited the Ghibli Museum on my honeymoon back in 2011. I can see the resemblances and honestly, I admire the choice for this game. It is sadly the only thing to set it apart. I wish some parts would have been more clear, like those boxes you can move, just a bit more clarity surrounding them, it would have taken this game out of the dumps.
In conclusion, today I learned a harsh lesson about how expectations can be shattered harshly when the game is really not performing… Frustrating is the proper term to describe Baldo…