No Place For Bravery’s strengths lies in its rich story, challenging combat, and beautiful art style.
I often found myself digging deep into the lore to try and piece together what happened in the world war-torn past as I got engrossed in the story.
A Brutal Revenge Tale: No Place For Bravery’s Story
You play as Thorn, a mysterious warrior with a checkered past that slowly unravels throughout your journey. Early on, your daughter is taken from you, and what follows is a twisted tale of revenge through a dark & realized world.
I was genuinely invested in finding Thorn’s daughter, and although I think the game makes one too many twists throughout its runtime, the story was a strong plus for me. It went to some dark places that are even more heartbreaking after hearing the Developers at Glitch Factory draw inspiration from real-world experiences and parenthood.
A Political War is waging in Dewr between the old and the new guard, and as Thorn, you often get to decide how or if to intervene. Your choices influence how your foster son Phid sees you and the world around you. Phid accompanies you on your journey, and I found myself seeing the world through his eyes as Thorn tells him stories of the past and confides in him his doubts and fears.
The only knocks I have with the story come from progression and the occasional dialogue that feels forced. I wish that specific story beats that lead to items or fundamental gameplay elements, such as fast travel happened a bit earlier on in the game, but that is a minor complaint.
The World of No Place For Bravery
Dark themes of oppression, addiction, and poverty run deep through the world of Dewr, a Nordic-inspired land that has seen long years of war & bloodshed. The lands are dotted with skeletons of Giants that tower over towns and battlefields.
It is gorgeous and makes for quite the backdrop as you explore the world. The Giants aren’t just there for set dressing; Glitch Factory has made an impressively dense world rich with lore if you explore and read everything you find. I spent plenty of time reading glossary entries to learn about the world around me.
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The developers have partnered with Eduardo Zolhof to create some truly stunning music to accompany the visuals. Throat singing sets the mood perfectly, and the ambient soundtrack as you explore the world is lovely. After seeing this game behind closed doors at PAX earlier in the month, I instantly downloaded the two songs available at the time. Give them a listen below.
No Place For Bravery’s world takes cues from the Metroidvania genre and locks certain areas behind weapons or items that you won’t find until much later, forcing you to circle back if you want to see everything and upgrade Thorn to his fullest.
And what a pretty world it is. No Place For Bravery has a wonderfully detailed pixel art style that I couldn’t look away from. When the fiancee walks by and stops to watch, you know you have something special on your hands. The environments are lovingly crafted from vistas littered with the skeletons of giants to intricate Dwarven Ruins. Little details such as Thorn holding up a map when you enter the map screen or kneeling and rummaging through his bag as you manage your inventory impressively. Enemies explode in a glorious bouquet of pixelated blood and guts, which accents the brutal combat nicely.
Combat in No Place For Bravery
Combat in No Place For Bravery is a challenging dance of slashing, dodging, and parrying. Learning to master each enemy type and exploit their weaknesses is essential to surviving in No Place For Bravery.
One boss early on all but forced me to master my parry timing before I could finally come out victorious. Parrying an enemy rapidly breaks their defense meter, and when you finally reduce it entirely, the world slows, and the audio distorts as an almost instant “job well done.” It’s incredibly satisfying. As you progress through the world, you acquire weapons to compliment your trusty sword and shield and skill items that you can trade in at checkpoints to unlock deadly skills for your weapons.
When an enemy’s health is depleted, they enter a downed state and are open for a brutal execution. These executions are devilishly tricky, and each enemy has at least one unique execution. My only complaint is that you can enter a zoomed-in execution animation in the middle of combat that doesn’t offer much invincibility. This means you are locked into an animation with no way of dodging enemy attacks. In a game as punishing as No Place For Bravery, a single hit can put you in a world of hurt. I often found myself not using executions mid-battle, which is unfortunate because they look so rad. I would’ve loved to use them as a momentary respite from the intense combat, the same way I do in DOOM or the recent Metal: Hellsinger.
Minor complaints about executions aside, Combat is No Place For Bravery’s strongest asset. It’s challenging but fun and kept me engaged even when I ran into repeated bugs that forced me to restart combat engagements repeatedly.
Unfortunately, my experience with No Place For Bravery has become a bit soured. Bugs were quite prevalent in my playthrough. Everything from game crashes to enemies spawning where I can’t reach them.
The most frustrating bugs came from the enemies. Countless times enemies were invisible in the world but still able to attack me. I didn’t realize that restarting the game would fix this before I died multiple times and lost almost all of my currency. Another time I faced a mini-boss that guarded a skill book, and every time I eluded him, he was pushed into a pillar in the environment and disappeared.
Usually, I’d be okay with that, but because I didn’t kill him, that skill book couldn’t be picked up.
Nothing was genuinely game-breaking until yesterday, when I went to finish the last bit of the game. There was an update that I hoped would fix some of these bugs, but instead, it wiped my save. Maddeningly, I’ve not seen the end of this game, and I’m not sure I’ve got the stomach to redo it all.
I truly hope that a day one patch accompanies the game launch because I know there is an excellent game somewhere. I enjoyed most of my time with No Place For Bravery, The combat is rewarding, and the story and world are lovingly crafted. I only wished I was able to enjoy it unimpeded.