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  • John Bush

Game Review #461: Songbringer (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: John B Developer: Wizard Fu Studios Publisher: Double Eleven Category: Action, Adventure, Role-Playing Release Date: 5.21.2018

Price: $19.99


Buy Songbringer from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

When I booted up Songbringer for the Nintendo Switch for the first time, I did so with a tiny bit of trepidation. The name seemed to imply that there was some sort of musical or rhythmic element to the gameplay, which is a problem for the rhythmically-deficient portion of the population – a group in which I count myself a member. Then I actually started playing, and was instead warmly greeted by a procedurally-generated, old-school Legend of Zelda style action RPG. I firmly approve of every single one of those buzzwords, at least in theory, and luckily for me, Songbringer is an excellent example of why I approve of those concepts in practice.

Roq and Jib

You assume the role of Roq, a crew member aboard the Songbringer, a ship that roams the universe looking for places to party where the galactic cops won’t bother them. Along with his trusty robot assistant Jib, Roq is sent to reconnoiter the mysterious planet Ekzera. After his hoverbike is struck by lightning, Roq is separated from the rest of the scouting party and stranded near a cave where he finds the Nanosword, setting in motion events that may eventually lead to the awakening of an ancient evil. And he has to find his shirt.

Procedurally Generate, Um, Everything

When you start a new game in Songbringer, the first thing you do is enter a six letter world seed; this seed is used to generate a unique game world every time you start a new game. And when they say unique, they mean unique; it’s not just the map that changes, either. Secret areas, dungeon layouts and locations, side quests, and even the bits of backstory that are revealed in your playthrough are part of your seed also. Even more interesting is the fact that a seed string will always generate the same world, so if you enter “prefix” as your seed and a friend does the same, the game will generate the same game world for you both to play! It’s a really cool mechanic that accommodates replayability and speedrunning in equal measure. You can enter a new seed and get a pretty new experience, or you can enter the same seed and try to beat it faster than you did the last time.

Slash & Dash, Search for Merch

In the open I said Songbringer plays like an old-school Legend of Zelda, and I meant it. The basic gameplay mechanics are almost indistinguishable from the original LoZ for the NES. Your main action is Roq’s sword attack, much like Link’s, whereas the main goal is to explore the map and clear dungeons. Along the way you collect artifacts that have some fairly obvious Zelda influences, like a hat that acts like a boomerang or some bombs you can set to blow up obstacles or weak walls. You also get some more unique artifacts, like an orb that gives Roq the ability to dash, and sword upgrades that enhance both the speed and damage of the Nanosword. I found it to be a satisfying enough system, but it may be a little too simple for some players. The combat frequently boils down to just spamming the attack button, even during boss fights (although some combination of dodging and attack pattern recognition is required also).


I have a strong affinity for pixel art games, and Songbringer is no exception to that. The graphics have a highly-stylized 16-bit look to them, somewhat similar to the graphics from Superbrothers, although not quite as detailed as that game’s borderline-legendary visual style. Still, things are colorful, visually interesting, and detailed enough that the graphics are counted as one of the game’s virtues. The music is more of a mixed bag for me; I love chiptunes as a general rule, so a lot of the music was welcome to my ears. At times, however, the soundtrack incorporates a bit of a dubstep influence, of which I am something short of a fan. The short, harsh, dissonant sounds didn’t mesh as well with the gameplay for me most of the time.

Party Roq

It’s hard not to recommend Songbringer to Nintendo fans. Do you like Legend of Zelda? I imagine most Nintendo fans do, so then you’ll probably like Songbringer. If you like fast-paced action gameplay, pixel art graphics, and chiptunes music, you’ll definitely find something to like. The gameplay can be fairly simple, however, which may turn some players off – it truly wasn’t a big deal for me, though. Even my low tolerance for dubstep didn’t really affect my enjoyment of the game that much; you can always just turn the music down, after all. It took me a little over four hours to beat my first world seed, so it even manages to be that rare game where it doesn’t demand a huge time commitment, but the procedurally-generated worlds makes it endlessly replayable as well. If you’re hankering for some old-school action-RPG flavor, Songbringer should be high on your list.

Score: 8.5/10

Buy Songbringer from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow Wizard Fu

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Follow Double Eleven

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*A game code was provided for review purposes

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