Bite Sized Reviews: Bulwark Falconeer Chronicles

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Bite Sized Reviews: Bulwark Falconeer Chronicles

Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles is challenging to write about. You can probably tell given how long it has taken me to write this up! It might be one of the most unique games on the market today. While its hands-off style can be overwhelming, I found the extensive freedom refreshing. It is definitely not for everyone, and it can be a tricky game to recommend. Because of the nature of Falconeer Chronicles, this isn’t my usual format. Honestly, the game needs more of my time to get the attention it needs!

I’m back with my reviews! While I’m working on recovery from surgery (joyful health things), these articles will be less frequent while I get back on my feet. Given my surgery was on my two big toes, that is rather literal! I have some cool projects in the works, but as people say self-care and health come first.

Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles is a solo project by Tomas Sala, a direct sequel to his debut 2020 title The Falconeer. I’m working on an interview with the man himself, although we’re both waiting until we have more free time to do it justice. Still something to look forward to! Falconeer Chronicles launched on Steam on the 28th of March, enjoying some nice success. In an industry buckling from the massive layoffs, I always like seeing people succeed, particularly Tomas. Being a huge fan doesn’t mean that I’m blind, of course. While I can recommend this game to anyone, it does take a carefree approach to its game design and learning process that will turn some people away. That is okay too!

At its core, Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles is an open-world city-builder game, set forty years after a devastating war that shattered the world. The first thing to get used to is the controls, as it does things differently to others in this genre. Controls are split between building and exploring, the latter all done from the mighty airship that is the heart of your budding empire. It can be a little strange getting used to the building controls. You use a single button to build across the waterworld, or a mouse click if using a keyboard and mouse. Like me, you’ll probably find the controls a little odd at first, but I got used to it after a while. I now prefer playing with a mouse over a controller.

As Tomas says during the wonderful title screen narration, this is quite a chaotic game with movement, unlike anything I’ve played previously. Fortunately, his voice is extremely relaxing. Ahem, moving swiftly on.

Bulwark is a gorgeous game and backs that up with great performance. Almost minimalist in its approach, the world is made up of small islands scattered across the vast ocean. Water is king, and land is gold. With the airship, I found the visuals quite breathtaking. It might be simplistic by base design, but this is one fine-looking city builder. It also runs great even on modest hardware, so even if you have an old system, Bulwark should be fine for you.

As for gameplay, this is a deeply relaxing city builder. There’s nothing in the way of interface, you interact with the world through just a couple of buttons. While the free-build mode is the main part, Tomas provides players with three expansive tutorials in a campaign mode. Since launch, he has improved upon the tutorials and prompts on how to play. While it is designed to be a game for players to teach themselves, it can be daunting for those who prefer a little more guidance. Fortunately, you can toggle them on or off, as well as other difficulty options.

Sadly you don’t get to see the happy people of the town run around, but they will organically develop their lives and jobs as you build up infrastructure. Outposts and towers provide routes to resource places like wood mills and stone quarries, and building ports unlocks ships. This will bring exploration and captains into the fold: powerful commanders of your ships that provide trade and defence to the budding empire. With the airship, you explore the large open world for new opportunities in the form of random events. This can involve captains looking for work, new colonies, or rival nations.

This isn’t a game that reveals all its cards straight away. Players need to invest a fair bit of time to see more. Because Bulwark leaves many things up to the player to discover themselves, this can be confusing. I spent ages working out why I was out of resource extractors, and I’m still unsure of the specifics.

It is early days for Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles. Tomas has already made several chunky patches to the game as well as several extensive roadmaps. In fact, there’s a big patch due in beta that will improve and add to the content significantly. While this article won’t feature the upcoming patch, I’ll mention how it affects the game in a future article.

Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles is a man’s ambition to create something unique, and Tomas Salas has really brought that to the table. This is different from any citybuilder I’ve played, and the result is a polarizing one. I completely get why it may turn people away, as it takes a great deal of time to explore what it has to offer. That answer is a lot! The odd controls and minimalist interface take work to understand, but you can tell just how much heart is put into Bulwark.

I’m still a long way from understanding what Falconeer Chronicles is about, but how can I not enjoy it? It ticks all my boxes, and I only hope to continue my journey in Tomas Sala’s new game. It deserves more of my time, and it deserves more of your time as well.

A beautiful city builder in a unique settingMinimalist interface and odd controls can make this difficult to learn
Its casual and calm gameplay makes this a delight to playThe tutorials are great, although the game’s encouragement for players to discover the bulk of content on their own can make this a confusing game
Immersive with a surprising amount of depth

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TheThousandScarAuthor/Blogger/Cartographer/Streamer/Narrative Game Writer/I play far too many games. |

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