Game: bayala – The game
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam and PS4)
Developers|Publishers: Independent Arts Software| EuroVideo Medien|Visibility Communications
Price: US$ NA| AUS$ NA | €39.99|£35.99
Age Rating: EU 7+ | AU NA |US NA
Release Date: 24th October 2019
Review Code Used Many Thanks To Visibility Communications
Schleich figurines create a magical world
Adventure game bayala is based on the movie bayala – a magical adventure. What’s more, the movie, and the game, are based on the lovely figurines by Schleich. And who doesn’t know about these wonderful toys? I remember my daughter having an entire menagerie of horses from Schleich growing up. They are still stowed away somewhere in our basement. The figures are durable, look lovely and are all handpainted!
Schleich started in the 1950’s as a family owned company making Smurfs and character from Snoopy. In the 80’s the animals, dinosaurs and knights where added. More lines followed, and the company was taken over by a British investment company. In 2007 the Elven were introduced, a line of Northern and Southern Elven that depict the battle between light and dark. That’s where bayala comes in!
The journey of Surah and friends
In the beginning in bayala, there was a magical link between the Elves and the Dragons that was so strong, that the Elves even guarded the dragon’s eggs. Until the evil Shadow Queen Ophira stole the eggs. This was the beginning of a worrying time, because when the dragons disappear, the power of magic might vanish, too. Surah and her friends set off on an adventure-packed journey through forests, into caves and across bayala’s Dragon Mountains. She faces off against the evil Shadow Queen Ophira, to save bayala from certain doom, and bring back the magic!
When you first enter the world of Solyas Kingdom you come just at the right moment. Eyela is getting ready for her Coronation as Queen of the sun elves. Her sister Surah (that’s you) is tasked by all manner of little quests to get the kingdom ready for the event.
Pretty soon Marween arrives at the gate with a mysterious stone that makes noise, together with little Piuh (an adorable purple raccoon with a mischievous streak.)
The mysterious stone is no stone at all, but rather one of the dragon eggs that have disappeared a long time ago. As the Coronation is disturbed by crows of the evil Shadow Queen Ophira, who was responsible for the dragon eggs disappearance. Surah, Eyela and friends decide to take the dragon egg back to his parents, so Ophira can’t steal it again.
While you travel you go from area to area, doing tasks, solving little puzzles, playing mini games and race on horseback from one location to the next.
The movie and the game
The movie, bayala: a magical adventure is in cinemas in Germany and will soon be released in other European countries as well. I haven’t seen the movie though, but I just looked at the trailer: looks lovely.
The thing is: a game based on a movie is always a difficult start for a game. Normally, fans of the movie are disappointed by the way developers make their beloved story into a gaming adventure. A bit like reading a book and then seeing it depicted in a movie. You have your own fantasy about the main characters and the world they live in and that might not be the same as the movie makers had.
A good thing then, that before reviewing the game I had heard or seen nothing about the movie. And as my daughter is already 20 years old, I had no idea what the current day figures for Schleich are.
The main gameplay is a linear adventure
Your first segment is in the throne room before the Coronation. Eyela and Surah’s sister Sera are there, and each of them has a task for you. It starts off with simple tasks, like gathering flower seeds for Sera and tidying the town streets for Eyela. There are portal ways in the room that lead to different parts of the town, where you can explore just that part of town. You can’t wonder around freely, I’m reminded of a platform game, with beautifully detailed levels.
Surah learns the basics this way, like how to get on ledges, how to get seeds from the flowers, how to jump from one leaf to the next and how to climb on flowers growing on a rock face. The game is pretty linear that way. For instance, I had already seen the presents lying about or the spiders in the webs, but it wasn’t until I got the request that I could act upon it.
From time to time, you see parts of the movie in excellent quality. Marween finding the talking stone and arriving at the gate with Piuh and causing a ruckus. The Coronation of Eyela and the attack of the crows. The game then progresses seamlessly into a new kind of gameplay.
After Marween finds the stone you control her balancing on the stone on the road towards the gate, trying to avoid all obstacles along the way. When the crows swoop in Surah has to fight them, to protect Eyela. The transition is flawless. I must confess I didn’t know I was back in control to guide Marween towards the gates until she rolled straight over a horse!
Combining various game elements
Doing tasks and exploring the areas to do so is the main part of bayala – the game. I’ve already mentioned the segments where you race in endless-runner mode to avoid obstacles. And the bit of fighting you have to do to make sure the shadow Elves don’t take over.
The exploring, mild fighting and racing is combined with mini games as well. For instance, there’s bayala’s take on match three with Jewels and there’s catching fish with Piuh. All mini games initially are part of the tasks you have to do, and they are fun too. And once you unlock a mini game, you can access it through the main menu of the game.
And if that isn’t enough to keep players occupied, you can also buy puzzle pictures pieces with the plant seeds you have collected. Some of them though can only be found in the game, the glittering puzzle fragments. With them, you can fill up your Collector’s Album in the main menu.
bayala is a good fit for the target aurdience
bayala – the game is aimed at an audience of 7+. It won’t surprise you that that is also the target audience. The game is clearly made for the fans of the toys and the movie. Not to say that the game is far too easy, it’s more that the game is forgiving. When you fall into a green slime pit of hissing bubbling goo, Surah just comes to life back on the ledge you were standing on, without any penalty.
Her energy does deplete in the fighting segments, but the energy sparkles come just as freely from plants around her that it seldomly happens that her energy circle is empty. And when it does, she comes to life in the same place and moment. The puzzles aren’t very difficult to solve, but I must say there are some bits that I made me think twice. This had to do with the effects a trigger in one level had in one of the other levels that I didn’t expect. But, at the same time, that was a nice touch, opening areas that I couldn’t reach before.
The game looks awesome, the scenes are so lush and vibrant. Just like a magic world should be. I’m pretty sure the girls who are fans of the figures and movie will squeal at seeing the horses and unicorns. Even without knowing anything about bayala’s background fell under the spell of this adventure. The soundtrack and sound effect are fitting, and the movie segments are great.
The levels are so gorgeous that I would have loved to be able to roam freely and turn the camera. The left stick was a bit iffy when climbing on a wall or ledge. At times it just didn’t want to work well. Dropping down again with B and trying again usually worked.
There were bits of gameplay that I found hard to master. Like jumping from springy mushroom to springy mushroom to bridge a distance. It might be just me, but I think that has to do with the depth in the game. I found it difficult to gauge where I had to jump to when the landing places weren’t next to each other, but farther in the back or more to the front. Might be because I played the game in handheld.
I get that the game is linear, so that I can’t pick up the presents in the street until I get that task. But it was a tad annoying that this means you have to revisit every level several times. This made it a chore on some parts of the game, maybe it would have been better to have players to do several quests simultaneously by making a sweep of a level allowing you to fulfil all quests. Then again, I think this does make the game more appropriate for a young age group.
Somewhere on the forum of a gaming site I found a comment on the announcement of bayala that said something along the lines that this is the kind of game that you play when you aren’t a real gamer. I must say I totally disagree.
First of all, I think all games are good games as long as the audience that it was intended for enjoys playing them. Sure, this is no Breath of the Wild or Monster Hunter, but that is not the purpose of the game. This is a game made for fans of the movie and fans of the toys. And the developer did a very good job at it.
Secondly, even though I’m not in the target audience, I really enjoyed my time in bayala. I didn’t know anything about the background of the movie and such, and maybe that helped. No expectations or ideas of how it should look. I just went in without prejudice.
Based on my fun time in bayala, which include the little niggles above, I will say I like the game a lot. It’s doing a good job to keep me playing. And if you or your child is a fan of the world Schleich created, I’d say this is a must buy for you!
Verdict: I Like it a Lot