We Play Some Isbarah: The First Journey – Hot Take
There are good ideas in games left, even those who seemingly combine simply elegant traits that were already known. In the case of Isbarah: The First Journey on Steam, this is applied by taking bullet hell shooters and throwing it in a platform mechanism that results in a tense challenge, the likes of Super Meat Boy, but different. A video commentary discusses this in detail, but have a recap as well:
In short, the idea and execution of Isbarah works in a serviceable manner. At face value, some illustrious scenes make drawn characters more elaborate than many flatter peers. A rocking soundtrack in the background also ensures that the intensity matches the onslaught in most senses.
Impulses will be high during gameplay, even if it may seem overkill at some points. Likely, balancing incoming stimulation is a part of the puzzle.
Challenge seekers can also find plenty of it in the course of the game and that early on. As the main design prides itself on being tough, bullets and other projectiles will fill screens immediately and won’t let up at any time.
With just a few powers, the playable character, whose story is dismissible, can increase survival rates. Dashing helps to avoid, slowing time allows more precise maneuverability and putting up a barrier can create new ground or help block attacks.
If anything ruins the party, it would be that Isbarah opts for keyboard and mouse controls, necessary to aim dashes, but chooses to pitch exact platform positioning that requires controller precision. While key inputs work on a basic level, the finesse demanded just isn’t technically possible and that causes copiously frustrating events, especially in a game that revels in brutally punishing any imprecision.
As to be expected, Isbarah: The First Journey is a hard sell, though it grows beyond the borders of just its challenge alone. Those who can live with its tricky limitations will certainly be able to connect to a strong, original idea. To those who demand perfection to participate in grueling trials, they won’t see it paid back in kind by the technical design.