No Place for Bravery, developed by Glitch Factory and published by Ysbryd Games, is a 2D top-down action RPG with a hefty narrative.
The most standout features for the game were the art and music design. The world was an endless gallery of lovely pixel portraits similar to Hyper Light Drifter, but it maintained a low fantasy aesthetic and family theme that more closely resembled Children of Morta. Where No Place for Bravery tried to set itself apart was in its commitment to telling multiple stories about the struggles of being a strong parent. Unfortunately, the execution stumbled because it tried to tell all of those stories simultaneously through a single character.
Thorn was an ex-soldier searching for the warlock responsible for kidnapping his daughter. Throughout the adventure I responded to moral dilemmas with either patience or fury. The only options available when dealing with the likes of angry drug addicts, pushy soldiers, and wandering rebels were slay or spare. It was far too binary to have any nuance and soured the narrative regardless of what was chosen.
Thorn violently yearned for his daughter and revenge, but if I chose pacifist options, he was perfectly content with ending his 10-year search. In multiple instances, the game ended prematurely while preaching about the virtues of moving on and letting go. If I chose the aggressive route that Thorn wanted, he’d grow apart from his friends and family while the game scolded me for being unprincipled, but that was the only way to see the rest of the game. The only cohesive point the game seemed to deliver was to put it down for everyone’s sake.
Enemies respawned after resting at bonfires, but I didn’t have to reclaim my corpse upon death to regain my resources. Enemy attacks were relentless, but Thorn was only suited for hit-and-run combat. As the game progressed, combat visuals and audio grew more and more out of sync, so it took away any hope I had of giving Thorn’s unreliable parry another chance. I continued to explore and find resources to upgrade my weapons and attacks, but none of them impacted combat in a meaningful way. Instead, different weapons allowed me to unlock different parts of the map. It’s a good thing the map was pretty, because the game had a heavy dose of re-traversal. Sadly, this also increased the likelihood of hardlocking the game and being unable to progress.
At times the objectives didn’t show up on the map or my character became stuck at a bonfire after a cutscene. I thought some enemies were invisible, but it turns out their assets didn’t load in and were immune to damage. Reloading the save was enough to get through most of these mishaps, but the worst ones caused my character to be stuck wandering around with nowhere to go because an event wouldn’t trigger. Both of my save files stopped working around the same time, but it gave me a chance to try out some of the branching choices and different difficulty settings.
I think the easier story mode difficulty served the creative vision better because I didn’t have to dawdle around fighting big health bars. The pacing was improved, but the plot was still all over the place with mismatched tones to the point of being nearly comical. I’d almost recommend it if I had any faith that it wouldn’t break after four hours. As it stands, this game embarks on a noble journey to deliver lessons of patience while also being a test of patience.
No Place for Bravery is available September 22 for $19.99 on Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam.
Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for No Place for Bravery.