Hot off the heels of Another Dawn starting next-gen's awful titles sneaking past certification, TADVGames Studio decided to join this illustrious race to the bottom. Unlike that previously mentioned title tempting you with "Series X|S Optimization," Warrior Boy is – ironically – more honest about its shambolic state. Even its storefront description is littered with grammatical errors. Nevertheless, there was still a pull here to see if this studio's freshmen effort could contain a few novel surprises. Turns out it does, but they're comically awful.
As the title suggests, you play an unnamed warrior who is also a boy during The Middle Ages. Somehow this young lad stumbles upon a panoply of colorful jewels and hordes them in a lockbox. Suddenly, he's attacked by heavily-armored warriors. Overwhelmed by these numbers, he's eventually defeated and his jewelry chest is stolen. Now, he's on a quest to retrieve all of these gems.
The Call To Un-Adventure
What's absolutely strange is that narration only describes the first cutscene. There's actually more backstory placed within a loading screen, the only place it can be viewed within the game. Since I'm one of those lucky bastards with a Series X, I was given roughly one second to read an entire paragraph. From I could glean via the game's description, warring factions are always fighting for these priceless gems. Upon hearing an easy target caught a huge haul, they take his lockbox and build a mine to reproduce more jewels. So... what's special about the gems he found that'll help in mining, exactly? Are his gemstones essentially seeds in this world? That point is never clarified.
The fact I'm overthinking this can clue you in on this non-existent, stupid story. There are no supplementary characters, no central antagonist, no dialogue, and so on. The only purposive motivation behind the boy is retaining these jewels scattered across the map and killing anyone, or anything, along the way. I wasn't expecting Game of Thrones or anything like that – especially so for such a nascent indie developer; however, it's fair to expect something more than "these bad guys took my diamonds and now I must get back my diamonds and stop bad guys.
Perhaps just giving the most basic of motivations is so more mental energy can be spent on gameplay. One might think that. The reality is Warrior Boy is among one of the more "functional" asset-flip games on the market, being as it can actually get past console certification. Its third-person action gameplay is boilerplate nonsense with photocopied tactics against every enemy: run up to anyone so they'll backpedal, kite around them so they’re constantly disoriented, and repeat. There's only one enemy variant who has any counter against close-quarters whacking, but it's so slow and irrelevant. The only thing keeping fights from a quick game of Whack-A-Mole is their importunate respawn timers and insatiable hunger to attack you until you've vacated that area.
To its credit, there is a smidgen of variety. The boy has four different weapons: his fists/feet, a dagger, a magic staff, and magic grenades. These constraints still can't avoid the terrible balancing. For starters, it's amazing just how effective fists are compared to the dagger. Since he can effectively clip into an enemy, the boy's punches and kicks can triple in damage output. You can tell it's unintentional because the onscreen damage numbers are split mere milliseconds apart; same with the audio resetting in quick succession in tandem. Instead of hearing 'Oof!' it sounds like 'Oo-oo-oo-ff!' as though audio is glitched. One of the key highlights of this overall horrid sound mixing. Being as it's a special pickup, the magic staff could be a great choice were it not for wretched hit detection; spending several extra seconds hoping any strike would register frustrated me to no end.
Potential Bright Spots?
To its credit (which is stretching it), I was able to discover limited enjoyment with grenade tactics: lure a mob of 10 enemies to give chase, toss a few bombs behind me, and revel in the carnage. There's something visceral when seeing that the first time. I also didn't think TADVGames would have disparate enemy types. Sure, the big/mini rock golems aren't fooling anyone, but having them alongside melee/ranged soldiers and shield-bearing skeletons was at least something. It's the only time I was sold on the Medieval Fantasy aesthetic.
Plunging back into the negatives, the world design is utterly banal. Aside from portal entrances/exits, this medieval setting has no flavor to it. The same townhouse exteriors, generic gem design, etc. damage my interest to appreciate the otherwise variegated landscapes. It's a shame. There's no excitement to explore in this collect-a-thon either because hitting the back button reveals all gem locations anyways. You're essentially just play-acting as an errand boy. Put simply: it's a woefully-conceived combat system where I have to mentally strain myself to recall a scintilla of genuine enjoyment I had. And even that credit is thanks to breaking the rules of its undercooked game design.
On its own, I don't think reprimanding prefabricated assets from a storefront is a valid criticism. They can be part of a presentational toolbox and tweaked for the developer's vision. Warrior Boy's usage on the other hand just seems like there was a 'Fantasy Setting' bundle and called it a day. It's tough to even call this look mediocre for an indie title. The singular visual bauble I genuinely like is the boy's attire. It's the only aesthetically interesting quality I can remember; I can't recall anything else that suggested artistic skill or taste.
An Ignoble Warrior
Even miniscule praise can't be found for the audio. I can't remember any sort of soundtrack, so you're just sauntering between areas with only the hollow sounds of footsteps to fill the air. On top of the stated sound-drowning issue when punching enemies, there's no good feedback when either getting hit or finishing enemies. It's all just bottom-of-the-barrel sound foley work. Worse than that, the one audio slider found here is currently defective. Decreasing combat noise only applies to the boy. His grunts when swinging may be subdued, but an enemy's screams or the gem-collecting audio cue permanently remain at a default high pitch.
Perhaps this vilification over a rough game may seem like too much. A price point of $4 sounds like TADVGames just wanted to release something. Maybe I should consider these special circumstances; after all, everyone has bills to pay. Herein lies the rub: this game originally retailed at $30.49 before dropping down to $15. This fairer single-digit price arrived after several revisions. Although one could acknowledge this dramatic change as a mea culpa for charging so much for ~1.5 hours of content, I don't believe I'm obligated to dampen my frustration. I always try to be even-handed in such situations, but I believe this developer/publisher knew what they were doing from the start.
From its generic title to its abysmally unbalanced combat, TADVGames' freshmen effort exists as an unkempt hitchhiker in my memory. It's sad when Warrior Boy's most notable gem is that I managed to complete it.
TechRaptor reviewed Warrior Boy on Xbox One with a copy purchased by the reviewer. The game is also available on PC.
- Can Be Completed
- The Boy's Attire Looks Neat
- Laughably-Unbalanced Combat
- Ever-Present Audio Issues
- Among The Most Banal World Designs
- Feels Repetitive After 15 Minutes
- Looks, Sounds, & Plays Like An Asset-Flip Game