Review: Tiny Barbarian DX

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I’ll give Tiny Barbarian credit for one thing, it has one of the best openings of any platformer around. Right when you start, the game pans up to a desperate mountaintop siege, you versus an endless horde of slavering monsters. The game proper starts when you inevitably die, but it’s a great sort of free-form tutorial and a lot of fun on its own. It might also be the one truly unique part of the game, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable on the whole.

Tiny Barbarian is a retro platformer that poses you as a Conan-looking fellow about the size of a Broforce character (flexing and all!) against many stages of monsters and traps. In your quest to vanquish evil and rescue your comely companion, you’ll master a host of sword slashes and combos that can juggle your opponents in hilarious fashion. You can also hang from and climb vines and chains, and vault up ledges you can’t quite clear. The controls are tight and the challenges the stages present give you some creative workouts with them.

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As a platformer, it hits all the right notes without being too terribly hard. You get a life bar of about seven hits before you go down, and death just puts you back at the start of the immediate area. There are two chapters to tackle, the first being a straightforward romp through deserts and caves to take on an evil warlord, and the second being a fantastic journey through jungles and on the backs of bees to save your beau. There’s a jump in difficulty between the two that I didn’t find particularly welcoming, but nothing that really turned me off of the game.

The only factor that should give anyone pause at the moment is the state of its future content. Tiny Barbarian was slated to get two more episodes to round it out but they were promised years ago, with not even teaser images to keep hope alive. However, the game has just last year been picked up by Nicalis who is intent on releasing the full experience sometime in the near future. In anticipation of that the price has gone up, so that at least lends credence to the idea it’ll be finished eventually. But that also means you’re paying a premium for content that isn’t there and has been promised for longer than some games have lived in Early Access.

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I’m sure you know by now I don’t normally factor pricing into my reviews but this is a pretty unique situation. All you’re getting right now is about two hours of quality retro platforming, priced up for something at least twice as dense. Don’t expect any big unlocks or secrets, just jumping and hacking away. It occupies a nice space between the likes of Volgarr and Shovel Knight, more accessible than the former and simpler than the latter. Assuming it gets finished with enough content to round out its jarring price hike, Tiny Barbarian should be a good bit of hack ‘n’ slash fun.

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