Bardbarian is exactly the sort of slightly bonkers mash-up of genres that the App Store does best. Its mix of lane defence, RPG, and arcade shooter feels fresh and familiar at the same time, and its rich presentation makes it an experience that's easy to enjoy.
Single finger controls, a rich progression system, and a wonderfully intense Survival mode finish off the package. It's an impressive and addictive experience that takes the best features of the genres it borrows from and blends them into something surprising.
The mortal bard
The game sees you taking control of a barbarian who's grown tired of the hacking and slashing lifestyle and reforged his battle axe into a lute. Said lute can now beckon projectile-firing acolytes to battle the goblin horde that's attacking your village.
It costs notes to call on these minions, and you can also use them to perform a variety of different unlockable solos that buff up your attack, defence, and speed. The goblin horde attacks in waves, red dots on a map in the top corner of the screen showing their position.
You scurry around using a single finger, in a conga line with the acolytes you've called up. They fire automatically, leaving you to weave your way through the various projectiles and powers that the monsters you're scrapping against are firing.
As you progress through the levels you collect gold, which you can spend on upgrading your units, hero, and village. As you finish certain levels you'll unlock new units too, which give you more scope to experiment with play.
Grab your lute
A crazed Survival mode hurls all manner of monsters at you, dropping giant monsters in after set time limits, and dropping random heroes to help you. It makes for a manic scramble to survive while trying to grab as much money as you can.
Bardbarian is a heavy blast of cartoon violence that slowly but surely develops into a concentrated and exciting action game, that's not quite like anything you've played before.
It's precise and polished, and layered with enough interesting gameplay tweaks and army-building strategy to keep you occupied for a good long while.