Checks Out Balrum

Hey guys! You might have noticed that I managed to record and upload a couple of new episodes of Checks Out over the weekend! First up was Balrum–you can see the first 50 minutes or so below:

So, what’d I think?

Honestly, I’m unsure about this one.

I’ll start with the good. Massive effort was clearly put into making the world around you feel alive: NPCs have behaviors tied to the day and night cycle, and you can interact with nearly everything on the screen to an extent that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a modern RPG.

Now, here’s the problem: Balrum starts off really slow, and I get the nagging feeling that I was barely able to scratch its surface during the less-than-an-hour I had to give it. Most of my playtime was taken up with character dialogue–and frankly, that dialogue was neither interactive nor gripping enough to really suck me in.

I wasn’t thrilled by my experience with the combat system either, although I’m pretty sure I did something wrong in my various attempts to incinerate the wildlife wandering around our woodland village. (There’s no way a fireball spell would actually force you to engage at melee range, right?)

If you like your RPGs with a heavy dollop of survival and crafting, I get the sense that you will enjoy the hell out of Balrum. As a matter of taste, those things just aren’t core to what I personally love in RPGs, so the experience left me a little cold; but perhaps I’ll warm to Balrum a bit more once actual dungeons (present on the game’s feature list) and combat start to show up.

Balrum is available on Steam for $14.99. Windows and Mac.

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  • Filippo Dart says:

    That’s a little weird. I loved the graphic style but the gameplay seems clunky. I’m going to give it a try anyway 😀

  • BarryB says:

    Thinking about this one. Craig, you may want to think about doing a video review of Stardew Valley, which my wife and I are playing separately. Pretty much a WRPG: tons of different crops with different characteristics, foraging, mining (with a good range of monsters–and an adventurer’s guild that rewards you for killing x number of each), fishing (which is a mini-game, and pretty damn tough), relationship-development, purchasing add-ons to your little farm (like a kitchen, which lets you cook recipes you get from watching tv, or from building friendships), etc. Learn how to make increasingly effective sprinkler systems, preserve jars, wine kegs, etc. Sell, make a fortune, and spend it on other stuff.

    Uh, kind of a lot going on.

    • Craig Stern says:

      My first impressions videos are pretty much exclusively limited to games that have been sent to me by the developers. If the Stardew Valley devs send me a build, then I will try it out!

  • Chris Chittleborough says:

    Minor correction: it’s also available for Linux.


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