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Brave Tribe

Score: 50%
ESRB: 9+
Publisher: G5 Entertainment
Developer: Taploft
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Simulation

Graphics & Sound:

Brave Tribe has cute and quirky graphics, but sometimes they can be a bit odd. At the beginning of the game, you choose between a male or female hero. Almost immediately, you are tasked with creating an Archerís Hut, I guess so that you have some assistance. Once you have your Archer, she can help you with the various tasks at hand (more on that in the Gameplay section). When your Archer is basically doing nothing, she constantly jumps up into the air, raising her fist. If you want a laugh, click near the Beekeeper Hut so she stands next to it and it appears as though she is angering the bees and they are swarming her raised fist. Once this game really starts to annoy you, you may need this bit of relief to keep you from throwing it across the room Ė again, more on that later. She looks peculiar and this is part of what I meant by saying the graphics can be a bit odd. Youíll encounter Roman spies/fighters from time to time and they are goofy looking men, typically hiding in trees and bushes. This amounts to a man standing in your field wearing a tree trunk. Very scary. Not really, but it can be amusing.

The music is quite good and tends to get stuck in my head. It's fanciful and merry and sounds rather fairytale-ish. Sound effects range from the clinking of coins when you collect money from your buildings, to the sound of chopping wood when you cut down a tree, the swish of grasses when you gather vegetables from your garden, or the thunk of restocking your buildings with food. They are nothing special, but they get the job done well.


Gameplay:

Brave Tribe is one of those games where you start off with pretty much nothing and you must build a village from the ground up, defend it from incoming enemies, feed your citizens, and expand your holdings. By all accounts I should love it, but as you can clearly see from the score, I hated it. Why? Because Brave Tribe wonít let me play Brave Tribe for any length of time. The game suffers from self-constricting gameplay which renders it damn near unplayable, unless you are willing to sink countless real world dollars into it to get anywhere and/or shamelessly plug it on Facebook, among your Facebook friends, and at the App Store. Brave Tribe is not a Facebook game, so I really don't appreciate the "quests" that require you to either rope your FB friends into playing it to assist you or buy your way out of them using runes or hearts, both of which are collected as a very slow pace from either random squirrels that you rescue from boxes or by completing quests.

There's a list of 5 or 6 quests on the left side of the screen. Currently, all but one of my "quests" are Facebook, App Store or G5 newsletter signup related. Sure, I could waste precious runes to get rid of them, but that just seems like a cheap and annoying ploy of the game, so there they sit. The other quests I currently have are one involving the Archer and one involving building certain buildings. Let's start with the Archer's quest. When you click on this quest, two options will pop up, and each one costs food amounts (which is made in the production buildings or grown and costs money to produce). One has a time limit of 5 minutes and requires the Archer to collect a number of arrows. Completion pays 20 gold coins. The other requires her to pick up a set number of branches, costs more food, has a 30 minute time limit and pays 80 coins. This is an early quest and although I have clicked on it countless times, for the life of me I have no idea what she is supposed to do to get this task done. Most times, when I click to begin the mission, I get a pop-up Celt Message that Archer is busy working and Iíll have to catch her later. Sometimes, Iíll get a blue arrow pointing to the Archer Hut and when I click it, my food supply is depleted by the given amount specified and the Archer remains where she was, jumping up into the air like a fool. Another mission had me asking the Archer to clean up the yard. Again, I either got the same "Archer is busy" message or one that told me I had no crops, even though I clearly had crops both growing and in need of harvesting. Again, I used precious runes to remove this quest because no matter what I tried, I simply couldn't complete the quest.

Another quest wants you to build additional buildings, including a Henhouse. I built the Henhouse, which cost about 975 gold pieces, but then I was required to "Hire some Friends" to work in the Henhouse. These friends must be solicited through Facebook or you can buy them with 15 hearts each. Since, at the time, I didn't see any way to obtain hearts, other than by shelling out the almighty real world dollar that Taploft is so in love with, I can't even open my Henhouse. I cannot possibly convey my disgust adequately with mere words. Well, then I found something interesting. There's a menu that you can access by tapping the right side and it has several things that I can't access like Cauldron and Marketplace, but there's one called Friends, so I clicked it. Apparently, for 40 stars (represented by hard-earned experience), you can visit the Chief's Village, so I thought hey, why not? You can also add Facebook friends here. When I paid my 40 stars and was transported to the Chief's Village, I was surprised. There were buildings everywhere, all with gold waiting to be collected. There was bountiful produce waiting to be harvested. It was amazing, so I thought to myself, well here is where the game tries to redeem itself and gives you a break. Wrong. Back at my village, I had 47 energy points, but suddenly, I have 5 here and really can't do much more than collect a few coins (and a heart for each building visited!) before I must wait another ridiculous number of hours for my energy to recharge. Yes, HOURS. Huh? It's bad enough that in my own village, I am limited to this tiny area where I have fought every enemy, cut down every possible tree, pulled up every thatch of grass, and built everything I could afford to, but then after 5 minutes of gameplay (no exaggeration), I am told I must wait for my energy to build back up. Here, it may take 2 or 3 minutes, or maybe even an hour or so. But what kind of game thinks it's a good idea to let you play for 5 minutes, then makes you stop playing until your energy recharges. Oh, of course, you can BUY energy. Naturally.


Difficulty:

Brave Tribe is only hard in as much as it stifles the player from actually playing the game. The battles with the encroaching Romans are turn-based, so I never really seem to suffer from fighting them. Perhaps, they drain some energy. Some of the stronger enemies, like the Centurion, may take 7 "rounds" of fighting to defeat, but that's as bad as I have encountered so far. Of course, as I stated earlier, I can't access most of the game because I am either not at the correct level to be allowed to play the game or I can't afford to buy access to the game, even once I achieve the correct level. For instance, I was so excited when I achieved level 14 so I could finally open the area called Trade Routes. When I attempted to do so, I discovered I now needed either 1000+ gold coins and some hearts or a stack of hard-earned runes to buy the expansion. I can understand a game that makes you work to open new levels. I get that and I actually enjoy working to open levels, but when you have to work to achieve a certain level, then PAY to open said level, that's just annoying. Some areas require 500+ runes to open them. There's no way that I can see a player ever opening those other than spending actual cash for runes.

Game Mechanics:

After all of my ranting and raving, I haven't even mentioned the best (joking - it's the worst) part of all for Brave Tribe. It requires that you be connected to the internet continually while playing. Of course, because if you weren't, how else could they force you to continuously hit Facebook, the App Store, etc., right? Well, I don't know about you, but my iPad uses wifi, not it's own 3G account. So imagine my surprise when I pulled it out to play Brave Tribe on my lunch break and discovered I couldn't. Couldn't even open the game up. Umm, it's a bit stupid to have a portable game that requires a constant internet connection. Taploft, if you don't realize this, ask Microsoft about the outrage they experienced when they announced this requirement with their new console, the Xbox One (which is not even a portable device). Not cool, not cool at all.

As far as the actual controls go, you will be tapping on buildings to collect coins and restock them with food, tapping to fight enemies, tapping to cut down trees and pull up grass and tapping to release squirrels locked in boxes. These guys will give you a needed gift ever so often, which is nice. Choose wisely, because you never know when you will need what they provide. I tend to go with building materials. Imagine my surprise when I was finally able to afford my Fishing Shack, which costs 950 gold coins, and built it, only to see a message pop up that required a bunch of wood, some rope, some fertilizer and two hammers before completion of the building. I already had some of these items because I had been cutting down trees the whole time and the squirrels had gifted me some of the items, but really? Again, you can buy these with runes or hearts. When that happened, I just put the game down and turned it off. I am done with it.

The sad part about Brave Tribe is that it is exactly the type of game I would love, if given the chance to play it. I love clearing areas of trees and brush, fighting off enemies and building up production facilities. I love exploring new areas and challenging myself to do each level faster and faster to get an expert score (as in the case of a game like Roads of Rome. In fact, I will go back and play Roads of Rome whenever I just want to play something, for fun. When I see the huge expanse of levels that Brave Tribe has to offer, I can only imagine the fun I might have had opening them up, clearing them and expanding my village. Alas, I will never know. Any game that forces you to bother your friends on Facebook or buy coins is a dud, in my opinion. That option can be there, sure, but a game developer should also allow the player to progress through hard work and be able to achieve the same feats. In fact, to me, it means even more if I did it myself through hard work. I feel like giving Brave Tribe a zero, based on this premise alone, but I can't deny that it has a charming look to it, great music, and promising gameplay, if you are willing to shell out the extra money and bother your FB friends. I am not, however. Sure Brave Tribe is a "free" game, but personally I'd rather pay upfront for a game and not have it hassle me, than get it for free and have to pay over and over for any enjoyment. What a shame.


-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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