Baldo: The Guardian Owls Review – A Ghibli Adventure That Isn’t Very Good
Baldo: The Guardian Owls always intrigued me because of its Studio Ghibli-esque art style. Featuring its promise of an action RPG with Zelda-style dungeons and exploration, the game also appeared to have potential. Understandably, this was always going to be a massive undertaking that no one could accomplish, but what about the final game? Is it getting closer to satisfying our expectations?
Baldo: The Guardian Owls is a terrible action RPG that doesn’t look to provide much in the way of creativity. It has a basic story concept in which you play as Baldo, a youngster who mysteriously awakens a Guardian Owl. He eventually realizes that he must destroy evil in this world since he is the only one capable of doing it. This basic narrative of good vs evil has been recounted many times before, therefore it doesn’t have any impact here.
Aside from the story’s simplicity, Baldo: The Guardian Owls doesn’t have much to offer in terms of gameplay. The exploratory movement is clumsy, and the combat fails to click together. The camera controls are irritating and are mostly to blame for the difficulty. To top it all off, the game was riddled with serious flaws at launch, which were eventually patched up with many updates. It is still an inconsistent experience in terms of difficulty since the challenge level seems unjust at times.
Baldo: The Guardian Owls’ sole saving grace is the art style. It’s bright and vibrant, with a colorful cast and levels. It also has a visual aesthetic similar to that of the Japanese animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli, which I have long admired. The exploration is a bit of a mixed bag. While there is a lot to find, including secrets, the controls and camera don’t help. Because I was playing on the Nintendo Switch, the performance, including load times, felt a touch sluggish.
Although the environment is varied, the enemy diversity in Baldo is lackluster. The game’s puzzles were one of the most difficult things for me. There are no visible hints for these, thus the player must solve them on their own. It’s an issue when I’m stuck in a dungeon and don’t know what to do, and the game doesn’t assist much here. I get that this is part of the appeal for some people and an intentional design decision, but it doesn’t make the game enjoyable.
The game is heavily influenced by Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda franchise. This is also true for health, which is represented by hearts. It may be raised by acquiring more hearts. Some of the dungeons and monster designs appear to be influenced by the Zelda series, but it falls short of its brilliance. Inspiration is one thing; putting it into action requires a vision, which I believe is lacking here.
The main issue with Baldo is that it never gives the player the feeling that they have done anything. The tasks and puzzles are difficult to complete, but they might have been designed better. It is common to become stuck on a simple task only to learn that we overlooked a button or a lever somewhere that was required to solve it. Enemies are also frustrating because they continue to respawn while exploring these dungeons, and the battle isn’t entertaining, to begin with. The camera and hit detection are unreliable, adding to the pain.
Will I tell anybody about Baldo: The Guardian Owls? I don’t believe so. It’s not a horrible game in and of itself, but it’s not for everyone. If you can overlook its flaws, you’ll find an average game with a wonderful art style and some decent exploration.
Baldo: The Guardian Owls Game Information
- Price: $24.99
- Publisher: Naps Team
- Developer: Naps Team
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher