Movie tie-ins certainly raise an eyebrow in the gaming world. It’s not that we don’t want them. It’s just they are never that good! So when the title of BAYALA was announced for Nintendo Switch,gamers had a right to be apprehensive. Taken from the fairy toy range, to cinema, to game. Has the tide changed and we get a solid title at last?
On load up, things start impressively. Some glorious presentation laced with story cutscenes that could have well been copied over from movie footage.
The background story goes that for years. Fairies were once assigned to care for dragon eggs for the dragons and there was peace and harmony in the land. Then one day a fairy developed a bout of kleptomania. Stole all the eggs and subsequently became known as the Shadow Queen. The dragons fled the kingdom, and instability and disarray ensued. Can our main fairy character Shulah restore peace by finding the dragons and the elusive shadow queen?
From the off, everything is quite graphically cute and impressive. Shulah has a jump command(A) , attack(X) , and is able to hang from ledges and handle objects with the prompt of the “R” flipper.
After a brief run through the first areas, it’s off to meet the BAYALA Queen and her associates from what appears to be a pumpkin type council hall. Here, Shulah is given various quests in the forms of collecting royal items, beetles from webs and tidying areas instructed to clean. Shulah can then exit from various portals that grant access to new areas of the map. Story progression pretty much relying on completing quests and expanding the choice of regions to visit.
At the start, gameplay is pretty solid and visiting parts of the town and cavern areas brings up the odd puzzles, requiring a bit of thinking and careful manouvering on what is basically a side scrolling platformer,with a little bit of combat thrown in for good measure. Hitting plants for example, throws out multicolor cocoon type orbs that serve as the games currency. This currency can later buy abilities or from the main menu, buy stickers that can be used in a collection album, with the promise of something special on completion.
It’s only at about an hour in, that you realise that the gameplay starts to crumble. The lavishly colourful town areas show quaint houses and horses and wagons, but unable to interact, you realise that this big labyrinthine world, suddenly feels very linear. The quest system and story progress is massively repetitive. Players will get quest/complete quest/go back to hall/get quest/complete quest etc,and not helping is the constant revisit of areas you’ve already explored to find something you were unable to collect the last time!
Combined is the controls that feel rather sloppy. Here, we get what I call the “one position-jump” mechanic that defies realism and science. Surely closer to the edge of the area you’re standing on, is easier because there’s a shorter distance to jump? No, here you have to jump from the centre of each spot in order the make the jump. The result feels very loose and cumbersome and when a platformer does this. You know there’s a problem!
Overall though. It’s clear this game is developed for a younger female player and a fan of Bayala toys and the movie. For this, it does the trick with plenty to collect, unlock and a fine slick and glossy presentation encompassing all the characters and the environments. For the rest of us, there’s a lot not to like under its very repetitive and linear structure and it sadly, falls very short there.
Thanks to EuroVideo Medien for the code.