Barbaria is here, and it answers the age-old question: what happens if you cross Clash of Clans with Gorn? Well, it’s on Quest now, so strap yourself in and let me tell you.
Barbaria sets you up as a god, or, more accurately, a semi-god in charge of your own realm. You have your piece of land, which you can expand, you have your own brutal self, embodied in VR via a huge and ridiculously muscular player avatar whose arms are so bulging with muscles that they’re practically touching all the time, and you have a goblin mentor who guides you as you make your way to nether worldly conquests!
Gods & Monsters
The action in Barbaria takes place in two modalities. The first is a hands-on experience that feels a lot like Gorn but with less ridiculous physics. You embody your muscle-bound avatar, and you invade another semi-god’s realm, either alone or with some of your minions, and you set about to destroy their defenses and destroy their altar crystals, giving you your victory and earning you some loot or treasure.
As you go about your raiding, you’re armed with a variety of upgradeable weapons; axes, swords, and bows. You can also, obviously, use your fists, hurl rocks, or even throw your enemies at each other. It’s all wild and crazy and incredibly bloody and quite a lot of fun. It doesn’t hurt that you can also zoom out to god-view and use magical superpowers to shift the tides of battle.
The multiplayer element in Barbaria is asynchronous and comes in when you attack other players’ realms and contend with their defenses, or when you come back to the game and are updated on attacks that have taken place against your own realm. You’re never fighting another player in real-time, but for realm-builders, there’s a lot of fun to be had in building up your realm, fortifying it with all kinds of defenses, populating it with minions and monsters, and seeing how it fares against players who attack it!
Chronicles of Cruelty
The gameplay in Barbaria is very cool, the combat is physics-based, but it feels good and solid and much less rubbery than that of Gorn, for instance. You can stun enemies and grab them, hurl them at each other, decapitate them, and indulge in all sorts of brutal punishment. It feels good and provides quite a lot of satisfaction.
The graphics are stylized and utilize a cartoony aesthetic that works well with the Quest, providing a lot of atmosphere while always being sharp and clear. There are a lot of graphical flourishes all around and the presentation is generally superb.
The sound is equally well crafted, from the special FX associated with the fighting to Edvard Grieg’s ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ that plays at the start of the game. It all adds to the whimsical and carefree mood of the game and sets the tone quite well.
There’s a lot of truly enjoyable whimsy on display in Barbaria, starting from your goblin instructor and mentor whose writing is constantly deriding your realm-destroying efforts, insulting you, and making a point of sounding quite surprised whenever you achieve any victory, to the catwalk-model goblin who comes out to display your chosen banner colors, to appropriate music and catwalk spotlights.
These kinds of touches are sprinkled throughout the game, and add a real sense of joy to all of Barbaria. They make things fun to unlock, fun to play with, and fun to look at and see.
Stalwart Games have done well here, clearly enjoying their game, peppering it with fun elements, and allowing players to really feel like they’re in a fun playground.
Cruel and Cruel Yet Again
There’s a lot of game in Barbaria. The more you play, the more loot you acquire, the more weapons you have that you can use, and the more gold you have with which to purchase expansions for your realm and upgrades for all your defenses, weapons, minions, and avatars.
Building the perfect defenses and seeing how they fare against other attacking players can prove to be quite addictive. If you’re a player who likes that sort of thing, you already know you’re going to enjoy it.
There Can Be Only One
Barbaria is a great game that’s a pleasure to play. It’s not afraid to show attitude, and it carries itself with an endearing, whimsical stride. It’s a lot of fun for fans of brutal first-person melee combat, as well as competitive base-builders who like to see how their base-building holds up against other players. It’s well-priced and easy to recommend to anybody who’s into either genre. Stalwart indeed.