Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling Review

Who’d have thought that bugs and insects would have a desire to search for their own version of the Holy Grail. Desperate to gain the power of eternal youth no matter the cost. Team after team of heroes and adventurers seek out the mythical item, but all fail, usually losing their life in the process. In Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling which was developed by Moonsprout Games, and published by DANGEN Entertainment you control a team of three insects. They must complete a number of expeditions around “Bugaria” the insect kingdom, where they will ultimately come face to face with the bug version of the Holy Grail, The Everlasting Sapling.

The Queen of “Bugaria” has long been obsessed with finding the fabled roots of The Everlasting Sapling, her attempts have been futile, and the item looks to have passed her by. That is until an unlikely team pair up to obtain an explorers licence. The team is formed of Vi the cocky and overly confident Bee, and Kabbu the battle hardened and honourable Beetle. To prove their worth they must gather the first artefact from Snakemouth Den. On paper it’s an impossible task, more experienced, and well known warriors have lost their lives to this mission. Can these two unknowns succeed where everyone else has failed? During this expedition the pair rescue a wise, yet confused moth named Leif, he has long been captured in the depths of the dungeon by an evil and dangerous spider. This trio must now work together, utilising each others skills and powers to finish each quest and gather the fabled prize.

Bug Fables is an adventure turn based RPG, that has a distinctive style. The colourful and striking 2D images move around the world in a smooth and fluid motion, turning on their axis demonstrating their hand drawn paper like structure. It was clear to me that the developers had been influenced heavily in their style and approach by Paper Mario. The use of small missions, and special powers to work from area to area, to overcome the many puzzles that you will face, added a fun and tactical element to the gameplay. Each of the characters has their own open world skill that helps to explore areas, and find any one of the in game collectables. Vi uses a boomerang which can be used to; flip switches, turn cogs, and stun enemies. Kabbu uses his horn to cut down bushes, and knock back enemies. Finally Leif discovers that he has magical powers, and can freeze creatures, and any source of water that he encounters.

As well as exploring, a lot of the action concentrates around battles, and the requirement to use the correct attacks to get the best out of each character. You are given the freedom to choose who leads the team, they will open up any fights, and will likely be the focus of the enemies anger and frustrations. Choosing who will take the least amount of damage, and planning who will be the most effective at defeating your foes comes with practise. Using the spy tool helps you to understand your opponents strengths and weaknesses. Any action you choose to complete uses a turn, so plan correctly to get the best out of your go. Like with most RPG’s, you have the freedom to attack, use items, or special powers. The latter is unique to each of the insects, and has varying effects, from; healing, and curing the team, to destroying and freezing the opposition. Using these powers cost Team Points or TP, a limited number is available, so choose wisely. When you are successful, you are issued with explorers points, these act as a form of XP, once you reach a set point the whole team ranks up, you can choose to increase; health, medal points, or team points. The rise in stats is minimal, so ranking up doesn’t suddenly make you a super hero, this keeps the battles nicely balanced. Medals can be found throughout, and these can help to reduce damage, increase health, and also change the game mode to a hardcore difficulty. I’d suggest using that medal later on in the game, as though the rewards may be tempting, repeatedly losing your life is not fun, so learn the basics, and then ramp up the challenge if you so wish.

With many regions to explore, you must ensure that you understand the relationship between your team members, and the NPCs that you will encounter. Every bug you find will offer witty, or interesting information to help you during your missions. The more you speak to others, the more depth you add to the story, and the world around you. Though it can be time consuming, the investment was worth the effort, the developers did brilliantly to create a vibrant and rich environment for the player to explore. Venturing from the Ant Kingdom, into the depths of the dangerous world of the Snakemouth Den, and then onto the Lost Sands, and finally into the Kingdom of the Bees, you will note the different enemies that you will face in each unique area. This evolving challenge keeps you on your toes, and ensures that you must be one step ahead, changing your team formation and approach ensures that you will be victorious, even if you do find that you fail a number of times en route.

A striking and vibrant presentation is what awaits you, if you decide to take on this insect adventure. This Paper Mario influenced game is a visual treat that is particularly fun to explore. The 2D models exploring a 3D world worked perfectly, and everything flowed seamlessly. The colours are particularly bright, all of the characters are well designed, and the insects are easily identifiable to their species. The variety of landscapes makes sure your adventures are constantly exciting and new, in this cutesy cartoon paper world.

Every element of the audio feels like a retro RPG, the high pitch tones that follow the text narrative, the classic and familiar weapon sounds, and the upbeat music that accompanies you on your journey, and when in battle. Add in that Moonsprout Games is heavily influenced by everything Mario, and you wouldn’t be wrong if you think that you are playing a classic Nintendo title. The music is superb, its lighthearted nature matches the theme and the look of the game perfectly. It managed to create both a fun loving, and suspense filled atmosphere. The developers have excelled themselves, and this game audio will be remembered for years by its community.

Normally when I look at how the controls work, I simply focus on how it’s mapped, and if there are any issues with input delays. In Bug Fables the control aspect is so important, it adds a whole additional element to one of the tactical aspects of the gameplay. You are asked to time both your attack and defence perfectly, if this is achieved, you will increase your attacking prowess, and reduce the damage taken. This is then taken further with unique combinations required to complete different tasks. Vi must time his boomerang perfectly by pressing the A button in the green zone, whereas Kabbu needs to have the analogue stick held down until the key moment. If you fail to get the timing right, then you will either miss all together, or you will fail to land a decent shot. Enemies vary greatly, so trying to time a defensive blow can be tricky, but you will want to perfect this, as this will be the difference between failure and success.

The main quest storyline is fantastic, it follows a tried and tested traditional thread. If you are a veteran gamer, this will feel very familiar to you. What I particularly liked was the sub quests for each of the characters. On completing each you will be awarded with unique items, and medals. These alter the gameplay and add a considerable amount of replay factor. The Hardcore medal rewards players with further unique treasures, which again increases the longevity. If you do attempt to complete each of the 3 sub quests, then you’ll be able to enjoy a variety of mini games, these all add to the fun and quirky charm that oozes from the realm of “Bugaria”. If you attempt to complete just the main story, I’d say you’re looking at approximately 20 to 25 hours of gameplay. If you want to play through all the options, and obtain all of the challenging achievements, then you will have to add around 15 hours. For me it was 40 hours well spent, and it truly was an enjoyable experience.

When I first ventured into this colourful world I didn’t know what to expect. The beautifully styled graphics, fun and lighthearted audio, and warm and welcoming NPCs make this an experience that you won’t want to miss. With the bonus of it playing like Paper Mario, but with its own unique twist on strategy and combat, this will tick the boxes for a lot of players from a number of different backgrounds. Bug Fables surprised me with its utter brilliance, and delightful world, I can’t recommend this one enough, and for me at least it filled that void in my gaming library, that only a Nintendo-esque game can fill. Gather your team of bugs, and start the hunt for the fabled Everlasting Sapling, this is a journey that you will not regret.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling Review
  • Gameplay - 8/10
    8/10
  • Graphics - 8/10
    8/10
  • Sound - 8/10
    8/10
  • Replay Value - 8/10
    8/10
User Review
0 (0 votes)
Comments Rating 0 (0 reviews)
Overall
8/10

Summary

Can the prize of eternal youth be yours? Of course it can, all you have to do is hunt down the fabled Everlasting Sapling. Gather together your band of insects, and go on an adventure that you won’t forget.

Pros

  • Paper Mario with a twist.
  • Beautifully designed graphics.
  • Excellent lighthearted and atmospheric audio.
  • The control mechanism is well thought out, and adds a tactical element to the gameplay.
  • The NPCs are warm and welcoming.

Cons

  • Gameplay can feel little slow until you get used to it.