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Baladins Review (PC)



Baladins Promotional Art

In recent days, I’ve found myself harmonizing with the ever-sprightly cast of Baladins—a five-piece troupe of happy-go-lucky figures—and their fruitful pilgrimage to spread joy and happiness to the masses. Granted, I didn’t quite know what to expect when I made the solemn vow to join them on their journey through the luscious wisps and woodlands of the Gatherac kingdom, but I knew, alright, that if I was to tether myself to their ankles and echo the gospel of their faith, then I’d eventually wind up with a better understanding of what it meant to be a Baladin. After all, it couldn’t have been that hard — merrily skipping from one port to the next and sharing a little love with the communities of an ecstasy-deprived nation. But, as it turned out, there was a little more to it than that; it also involved having to carry a moral compass.

Baladins’ mission statement is almost too easy to read: find an unhappy person, and do whatever it takes to elevate their lowest attributes in order for them to find a new meaning and muse to drive them forward. That is, in short, the basic setup for the recently released single-player and co-op RPG—a cutesy sticker book-like adventure game in which players take to the elegant tides of a seemingly depressed world that’s in dire need of a little kindred spirit to remediate its moral decay. Sounds all rather complex — at least in the eyes of a mere human. But, you are, whether you like it or not, a Baladin — and happiness is in your DNA.

If you have just passed into the realm that is Seed by Seed’s newest chapter in the fantasy genre, then be sure to read on for a few pre-purchase pointers. Let’s get…ecstatic?

I’m Ecstatic, Apparently

Baladin entering a small village via the overhead map (Baladins)

In case you haven’t put two and two together yet, then just know this: Baladins is a one-to-four-player RPG that’s coherently written to incorporate elements of traditional tabletop role-playing. As such, the player must set out to create choice-oriented avenues, each of which contain one of several dialogue choices and outcomes. The game, whilst largely focused on letting you forge your own narrative, tells the tale of five young heroes, all of whom share the simple and wholesome purpose of wanting to make the world and its countless inhabitants happier and a little less, shall we say, depressed.

As far as storylines go, Baladins paints a relatively clean and straightforward portrait; it’s easy to flow through, and not to mention impossible to fail at, given the fact that a single loss in any particular encounter can, and often does result in, well, having to rewind the clock and start over again. But honestly, this isn’t too much of an issue, as the choices that you make throughout your journey aren’t necessarily critical to your success; in fact, even if your select an option that puts another character at risk of losing out on something rather important, it isn’t as if you’ve fallen short or missed out on an overarching plot point. The fact is, certain choices can unlock various avenues to explore, but to say that you need to make the correct choices, however, isn’t necessarily true.

Baladins paves the way for five unique characters in total, each of whom possesses a selection of traits and skills to deploy in the world. Regardless of the character that you choose to work with, each of these skill sets can be evolved by completing odd jobs in each of the available towns, or simply progressing through various dialogue points and scenarios. Simple.

Carving Your Own Path

Baladin making critical decision (Baladins)

Progression in Baladins is more or less comprised of moving from one town to the next, and locating certain individuals to either assist in one of several jobs, or exploring hidden areas to unlock new opportunities to develop your skills and talents. Naturally, these attributes are best honed by participating in various encounters; for example, in one encounter, you might bump into a group of bandits, at which point you will need to make the decision of whether or not to resort to a defensive action, or utilize a vocal response to persuade the enemy to look the other way. Now, depending upon your skill level and experience at the time of the encounter in each of these areas, one of two things are likely to happen: you either bypass the confrontation, or you succumb to the threat, at which stage you will return to the previous scenario.

The good news is that Baladinsdespite using a “luck of the dice” approach in the vast majority of its operations, isn’t a tough cookie to crack. The point is, with so many endings embedded into each of the quests and a plethora of outcomes and choices to sift through, you can’t really put your foot out of place; in fact, it often coerces you into believing that the best approach is to alternate between numerous paths and experiment with the narrative. Sure, it can be a little difficult to knuckle in on the preferred approach, but it’s also forgiving enough in the case that it allows you the freedom to rewrite a few lines and alter the conclusions, too.

A Hidden Wonder

Character exploring an enclosed woodland area (Baladins)

Without a doubt, two of the best features in the game are its storybook art style and enchanting soundtrack—two accompanying components that consistently provide a solid foundation for the game’s overall cute and engaging gameplay aesthetic. Needless to say that, the theme that it adopts is as equally as merry as the band of characters that it sews into your heart. And honestly, that momentum doesn’t often fade, either, but instead remains perfectly consistent from the moment you breach the borders of the kingdom, to the second you graze the boroughs of the final beacon and sweep the last remaining quests beneath the rug and part ways with the credit roll.

In addition to the lovable personalities and idyllic settings that flesh out the kingdom of Gatherac, Baladins also delivers a powerful message that remains on your mind long after the final chapter teeters towards its natural climax. Sure, it’s a little silly — spreading joy to the masses — but given the fact that the vast majority of rival RPGs wouldn’t think twice about capitalizing on such a concept does, in all fairness, make it even more appealing. It’s also a premise that’s oddly rewarding, what with several of the culminations instilling a genuine sense of accomplishment and selflessness. I can’t argue with any of that; it made a point to spread a message, and to be honest, it was able to sign, seal, and deliver it remarkably well without overstaying its welcome.


Baladins character stats screen (Baladins)

Given the sheer volume of RPGs that simply resort to mindless violence and morally bankrupt characters and what have you, it does come as an awfully nice surprise to witness something a little less serious and combat-obsessed. And to be honest, it’s something that I’ve grown to love lately — a simple and elegant design that allows you to slump into the hands of a new, albeit slightly childish mode of play. Don’t get me wrong, there could’ve been a few more bits and bobs in Baladins that would’ve allowed me to get a little extra from that initial serotonin boost, but for what it’s worth, I do believe that Seed by Seed has brought something utterly unique to the table here, and therefore, I’m more than willing to give credit where it’s due and gleefully sing its praises. It isn’t perfect, but it’s far from incapable of conjuring a smile.

To cut a long story short, yes, you should give Baladins some time and affection — especially if you’re an avid fan of either tabletop role-playing games, or simply allowing your moral compass to devise a compelling narrative that bends at the knee to your every decision. If it’s the latter that you’re going for, then I can assure you that you’ll find more than enough to keep yourself busy for the long haul. Granted, it isn’t the longest journey that you’ll ever embark on, but where it lacks in longevity, it certainly makes up for in countless other ways—its original characters, backdrops, and musical numbers, to round off just a few of its most memorable assets.

To state the obvious: Baladins clearly bears all of the hallmark qualities of a solid indie RPG — and then some. Is it perfect? No. Did it make me a happier person? Absolutely.

Baladins Review (PC)

The More the Merrier

Baladins’ original art style and harmonic score combined with a genuinely heartwarming message of love and kindness make for a great role-playing experience, truly. It isn’t without its own minor flaws, for sure, but for what it’s worth, I do honestly believe that this is, all things considered, a hidden gem that anyone with a heart for old-school tabletop gaming should take the time to play.

Jord is acting Team Leader at If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.