They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Songbringer, from one-man developer Nathanael Weiss and now available on Nintendo Switch, is a homage to the original Legend of Zelda. You can purchase bombs to blow up cracked walls and charge up your sword for a devastating spin attack. You have a robot companion that follows you around and you eat cactus that causes you to have crazy hallucinations… Ok, it’s not totally the same but there is a long list of similarities that I could drone on and on about. While Songbringer may take cues from the beloved Nintendo series it strives to be, it ultimately fails to live up to its mentor.
Songbringer is the “story” (there really isn’t one) of intergalactic rebel Roq, who crash lands on the planet of Ekzera, separating him from his mothership, the Songbringer. Against the advice of his companion droid, Jib, Roq enters the nearest cave and pulls a sword out of the ground (not exactly like Zelda, but pretty close), unwillingly unleashing demons upon the planet. Equipped with a nano sword, Roq and Jib must explore the unknown to locate their lost crew-mates, vanquish the demons, and return to the mothership.
The entire concept of Songbringer could best be compared to the Chalice Dungeons from Bloodborne. Whatever name you use for your profile will procedurally generate the world you will be playing in. The story stays the same, but the planet you’re stranded on could be a swamp or a desert. Essentially, there’s an unlimited number of different worlds you could explore. If you really love the game, you could play it forever if you wanted to.
The map you traverse is a grid set up, where you can see dungeon locations and points of interest that you have found. Discovering where you have to go next on the map isn’t explained, so just like the old Zelda, you wander around hoping to find your next objective. Remembering, where certain things are is a pain though because the graphics are so pixelated, a lot of it starts to blend together.
For what it’s worth though, the graphics are unique and run fluidly, especially when swinging Roq’s nano sword. Chopping things up becomes second nature. You’ll have access to various tools such as Bombs and Meditation skills to gain access to new areas. Dungeons are your main objective and defeating the boss in each one will net you some sweet loot. The bosses aren’t too hard but they each have great looking designs and animations. The same can’t be said for the enemies you fight. Most of them just blend into the environment and are pretty forgettable.
Songbringer has great style and brings back fond memories of the original Legend of Zelda, but the world you’re exploring is so vaguely explained and uninviting, that I found myself trudging through just to complete it. There really isn’t anything driving you forward. I guess the same could be said for The Legend of Zelda, but I enjoyed the music and dungeon designs much more in that one. It was more inviting. I constantly found myself just wanting to play The Legend of Zelda instead of playing through another game of Songbringer. – NVJ
Songbringer is now available on PS4, PC & Nintendo Switch
Nintendo Switch review code provided by Double 11