Go on the defensive and slug it out
The Incredible Baron has been available on mobile platforms since it was successfully Kickstarted back in 2015. It’s designed with an eye towards touch screens, but does it translate well to a PC setting? It’s with this in mind that we examine its latest incarnation on Steam.
Playing the game, you’ll find yourself in the role of one Baron Buffon Hildengard, who is on a mission to catalogue various undiscovered species in the name of science and fame (though not necessarily in that order). While travelling on a boat, Hildengard and his crew are soon attacked by a species of hostile, acid-spitting slugs. They are quick to devise a successful counter-measure, but alas their new inventions end up destroying the boat. Once shipwrecked, they proceed to salvage parts of their ship to help construct new inventions against the attacks of more, ever-dangerous enemy types. It’s a silly and lighthearted story that is nevertheless endearing and cute..
The core gameplay takes on a notably tower defense-style approach, albeit with a more tug-of-war mechanic. Many levels follow a linear path where the Baron’s base is on the left side of the map and has to continually defend itself against enemies approaching from the right. There are a wealth of different defensive creatures to train, and knowing which ones suite which situation is the meat of the experience. Other factors, such as researching new technologies, earning cash and dealing with a defense’s cool-down all help to add a pleasant tactical angle to the experience.
Though it occasionally feels repetitive, other gimmicks are thrown in to keep the experience fresh. These take on the form of variations on objectives, or throwing players into a situation with artificial limits like a restriction on cash. The Baron himself can also provide attacks to assist the creatures, such as a devastating shot from his flintlock pistol. Although other benefits are available, I found myself falling back on the trusty flintlock time and again because of its devastating nature and ability to attack enemies on the far end of the screen. Finally, the creatures you train exhibit different color variations, with certain hues being stronger or weaker against others, giving rise to deeper considerations of the rock/paper/scissor variety.
One of The Incredible Baron‘s most notable traits is the wonderful 16 bit-style art. It’s cute, colorful and wouldn’t have been out of place on the old SNES. Music, too, appropriates itself for every situation and you’ll likely find yourself mindlessly humming it while at work.
The Incredible Baron is an excellent example of strategy accompanying simplicity. The retro graphics, straight-forward learning curve and eye towards producing odd creatures all come together to create an enjoyable, unpretentious experience that rewards both casual playthroughs and those who sit down and invest more time in it.
Get by navigating to its Steam page here. The soundtrack, too, is utterly worthy of investment.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: PC (reviewed) ; Publisher: Black Shell Media ; Developer: FlatRedBall ; Players: 1 ; Released: 27th of May 2016
Full disclosure: This review is based on a Steam review code provided by the publisher.