Studio Puffer’s 10-Minute Barbarian is a pixelart 2D army tactics and exploration game that plops you down into the single player role of a sort of General with one very simple task – command your ever-growing army through nine different scenario-like stages and save your conquered kingdom from the baddies! Sounds easy, right? Well, that’s because it is easy. Very easy.
The simplistic point and click game play that 10-Minute Barbarian offers has a couple positive aspects. Not only does it make the game extremely easy for anyone to pick up and play while getting the same experience any other gamers, but it also allows the player the ability to boot up the game and start slaying demons on a wide variety of devices. Since clicking (or tapping for the touchscreen user) is the only mandatory action used in the game, playing with a standard PC mouse is equally as easy as using a touch pad laptop style guide.
That being said, the game is lacking a serious sense of replay value. Although battles can be exceptionally large scale (1,000 troops vs. 1,000 troops is pretty massive!), every single battle feels almost identical. There are a few controllable units that you can manipulate throughout the battlefield, the most abundant being dragons and cavalry, but most of the troops are set free at the start of every battle set to attack only the troops closest to them and move across the battlefield. Effortless gameplay can often be the key to incredibly fun games, but for an army/tactics game, this game felt a little too tactic-less.
The plot of any given game is often the backbone of the title, sometimes even a series. Too much story and some players could avoid following all together. Too little story and, well, you must have yourself a copy of 10-Minute Barbarian. Before I get too far into this subject, yes, the title DOES imply that this game isn’t meant to be a 1,000+ grindfest with hidden plot secrets that will go uncovered for years after its release. As you wander around the land of any one of the given levels, your sole purpose remains the same – roam the land for X amount of days (each step you take through the land ticks the countdown timer down a day) building the biggest army you possibly can before the apocalypse brings forth the wrath of some very powerful demons. On top of the whole demons-potentially-ruling-your-land thing, collecting as much gold as humanly possible and taking control of as many troop-producing fortresses as you can to prepare for the inevitable dawning of hell’s mightiest are your main focuses. That’s about all the story line you’re going to get here. While each new level does come with a pretty hefty difficulty increase, there’s no veering from the path when it comes to the “story” behind each scenario.
While pixel-art and retro style games are making a huge comeback right now, there’s always going to be a lack of excitement that comes with the absence of detail. Par with it’s genre, 10-Minute Barbarian’s graphical work is the best thing about the title. Each of the lands you set out to save comes with a new, and usually more challenging geography. Although the art for many of the small towns and large fortresses from area to area remain the same, the design for the atmosphere as well as individual character design and battlefield layout were well thought out. Music and FX are very present in this game with a decent mix of tracks and sound bits playing while attempting new levels.
10 Minute Barbarian is pretty basic, a game you fire up to get a quick fix of battlin’, brawlin’ mayhem while a bigger, better game finishes it’s mandatory install. It’s fun yet forgettable, but maybe that’s what Studio Puffer was going for. 10 Minute Barbarian is out on Steam for Mac and PC, but you can play the first three levels in the free demo first to see if this bite-sized barbarianism is for you.
Worth 10 minutes of your time
Gameplay - 6.5/10
Plot - 4.5/10
Design - 8/10
While the title really sucked me in with the hopes of a repetitive, but progressive RPG, I was very let down with monotonous battles and a sever lack of story to bind any of the ingredients together. The overall design of the game was okay, but it certainly wasn’t breaking any boundaries in the games category.