Billed as a Sekiro-esque 2D top-down action RPG, No Place for Bravery sets a high bar before leaving the start menu. Developed by Glitch Factory and published by Ysbryd Games, No Place for Bravery attempts to combine the challenge of games like Sekiro and Elden Ring with excellent storytelling seen in games like The Last of Us. And, for the most part, it mainly works.
No Place for Bravery is, first and foremost, a game about family. Players slip into the shoes of Thorn, an aging and weary veteran in the world of Dewr that feels equally as weary as he seeks to find his lost daughter, Leaf. The idea of presenting the main character fighting to save their child is not exactly unique, but the combination of that story alongside a world that feels incredibly distraught works really well. Enemies and obstacles are numerous, and the challenges Thorn faces along his journey make his quest feel increasingly more hopeless as the game continues. There is an incredibly fine line between making a world feel hopeless and still keeping the player engaged, and thankfully No Place for Bravery threads that needle with exquisite finesse. There are also plenty of twists and turns along the way that keep the story fresh and add to the challenge all while holding the faint hope of rescuing Leaf alive.
It’s not just Thorn and Leaf that make for a compelling story. Phid, Thorn’s disabled foster son, joins Thorn on his journey and allows for some really interesting exploration of what it means to be a father. Their dynamic also helps put the entire world into perspective, as I quickly learned that no one in Dewr is necessarily “good.” There are a handful of moments along the journey that feel a little phoned in—simply trying to be dark for the sake of being dark. But, overall, the different characters and areas I discovered helped keep anything from ever feeling rote. Additionally, I would have liked a bit more interaction with NPCs to help flesh out the story of Dewr even more, but I understand why that was not always a feasible option.
As much as I enjoyed the story of No Place for Bravery, the real bread and butter is found in the gameplay. Comparing your game to major Soulslike games is a bold strategy, but I really enjoyed Glitch Factory’s approach to the genre. As expected, dodging and parrying are vital components needed to defeat the countless enemies players encounter in the world of Dewr. There are also weapons and skills that can be unlocked that come in handy, but learning to master the dodge and parry mechanics is by far the most important thing if you want to make it through some of the tougher parts of the game.
Thorn is absolutely a badass, which is evident when he starts cleaving enemies in half in a beautiful pixilated display of gruesome victory. While he may be quite the badass, his enemies are equally as badass, primarily the boss fights encountered throughout the game. There are some truly challenging bosses that took multiple tries to defeat, which is something I really appreciated. It’s nice to enter a video game world where the main character may be an ass-kicking hero, but that doesn’t mean the enemies are pushovers. No Place For Bravery nails the balance between having a powerful character while still having organic, challenging bosses.
My only real gripe with the enemies is that sometimes encounters revert to just dealing with massive waves of enemies. I don’t mind the challenge of fighting a horde, it just feels significantly worse when it is sandwiched by really interesting boss fights. The world enemies just felt stale after a while, especially when they just get thrown at you. In a game that prioritizes slow and deliberate combat, it can be tough to focus on dodging and parrying when there are simply too many enemies around to escape.
While I may have occasionally felt mixed on the combat and story, the visual and audio aesthetic of the game is nothing short of spectacular. I truly felt transported into the world of Dewr, and the difficulty of Thorn’s struggle was so evident in every scene. Whether it was the visual design of the more challenging enemies or even just the broken-down world that Thorn travels through, it all came together in such a fantastic package that helped keep me thoroughly engaged in No Place for Bravery. Dewr is an unfathomably cruel world and every single background, character, and movement oozes that cruelty from start to finish. The attention to detail in the smallest things is just the icing on the visual cake too.
No Place for Bravery is not a perfect game, but it comes damn close to reaching the lofty heights that Glitch Factory aspired to achieve. Thorn’s quest to save Leaf is exceptionally well-written, and the world of Dewr is one of the more enjoyable video game worlds I’ve explored in some time. Despite some minor quibbles with the combat and some of the world-building, No Place for Bravery is still an excellent game that players looking for a challenge are sure to enjoy.
No Place For Bravery
Thorn’s quest to save Leaf is exceptionally well-written, and the world of Dewr is one of the more enjoyable video game worlds I’ve explored in some time. Despite some minor quibbles with the combat and some of the world-building, No Place for Bravery is still an excellent game that players looking for a challenge are sure to enjoy.