No Place for Bravery is an interesting, if not problematic game. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and in a lot of cases it’s true. It’s often the case in the game industry that developers are inspired by the games they love and want to utilize similar concepts. However, sometimes it can go in the opposite direction—trying to implement another game’s ideas without fully understanding how they work.
Such was the case for No Place for Bravery, describing itself on its official website as “Sekiro-esque,” and very clearly inspired visually by games like Hyper Light Drifter. In fact, it was these things that initially drew me to the game. But my time playing it was left frustrating and deflating, and not in the good way that a Souls-like should accomplish.
Since this is a mini-review, I’ll cut right to the chase—No Place for Bravery’s biggest problem lies in its combat. Despite being inspired by both Dark Souls and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, it doesn’t really capture either of those game’s combat in a satisfying way. Like Sekiro, there’s a stagger mechanic where attacking and timed blocks will break an opponent’s stance; but, unlike Sekrio, breaking an opponent’s stance doesn’t leave them vulnerable to an insta-kill deathblow.
Furthermore, No Place for Bravery, also has a stamina bar—something Sekiro rightly did away with because it didn’t suit its faster, more block/parry focused combat—so even if you manage to break an opponent’s stance, you might run out of stamina before you can land a few good hits, since blocking/parrying uses up stamina. But aside from functionally not really working, No Place for Bravery’s combat doesn’t feel satisfying on a technical level.
“…I really wanted to like No Place for Bravery.“
Blocking itself has a very strange timing window, since, unlike Sekiro—which was wise to have the Wolf used a single sword, so blocking went up in a second—Thorn uses a sword and shield and takes a second to pull his shield down, so you’re never totally sure if pressing the button at the right time is a parry, or at what point in the animation constitutes a parry.
This is compounded by the fact that attacks feel weightless and don’t stagger enemies, so you end up taking damage in the middle of a combo, and you never get a good sense of when is a good time to attack, or when to try and block. Adding to this further is a “dodge,” that is one of the most ineffectual, pathetic little hops forward I’ve ever seen in a video game, and often doesn’t work, since enemies seem to always aim to where you’re going, and bigger enemies have the widest hitboxes known to man, so dodging always feels pointless.
The combat, which is the core gameplay loop of No Place for Bravery, never feels challenging in the way that Sekiro, or any of the Souls games did, because you can’t really plan around bad design. And that’s before you get to some of the way instant kills feel janky and staggered; with a couple playing out in still shots and lacking any fluidity.
It’s a shame because I really wanted to like No Place for Bravery. The developers clearly put a lot of love into it and the story—which covers, “the role and duties of father figures and the consequences of their choices in a troubled world,” which was inspired by the developers personal life experiences and stories. But try as I might, I just couldn’t get past the combat being so frustratingly unpleasant, especially in relation to the games that inspired it.