South and Central American mythologies are perhaps not as popular as Greek and Roman mythologies, but nonetheless they are equally unique and intriguing. Brazilian folklore is one example, their stories and myths are the result of their rich blended mixture of peoples. You have African slaves who brought over their myths and legends and their stories became intertwined with medieval tales from the Portugese settlers, and also the indigenous Amazonian peoples residing in the land. On top of that, you had the superstitions and stories from missionaries the Catholic Church was bringing over, and the result is a mix of Brazilian tales and myths that are distinct. The reason for the history lesson, is because it is at the core it inspired the bosses and creatures you will face in this fun yet short action game. While the game isn’t perfect, and may seem off putting by its bizarre art style to some players initially, I found a fun game with a story I wanted to read, that’s tinged in dark humor throughout.
You play the role of Dad in Daily Espada, and you’ve been tossed into a bizarre game show arena that takes several queues from games like Smash TV. Now Dad has a lovely wife and daughter, they are the reason he’s risking his life in this twisted tale. At least on the surface, this family has it’s shadows and mysteries as dark as the levels you’ll play in. With each stage you complete you will win grand prizes like a brand new house, a complete college education for your daughter and more. Emails tell the behind the scenes reactions from your wife, as she eggs you on for bigger prizes while your daughter eagerly asks for you to drop out of the show and just come home. I was actually wrapped up in these little emails, and looking forward to the next one as a boss went down.
Fluid controls for this type of game are a must, and I found Daily Espada delivers a satisfying fast paced gun and sword slashing action. Combat is kept interesting by the use of “power ups” which can either boost your combat chains, or give you special energy attacks to decimate the onscreen enemies. Early on you are introduced to your power armor, this handy device prevents actual health damage from taking place. It has limits, and if you take enough damage you’ll just be some dad in a sword fighting a three story energy dragon. Without the suit, you die, and die often. Wait a moment and you will regain enough energy to activate the suit again. Combat dynamics are simple, level design is also simple, but still entertaining. Find a key card and the room door or elevator that was previously inaccessible turns on. Get lost? Rooms are usually marked red or blue to denote if you have acquired its contents or not. Mysterious music imbues the dark shadowy rooms and blackened enemies materializing around you.
The game awakened my curiosity for Brazilian folklore in general. The result was a couple hours of research online as I looked up each boss I defeated on wikipedia, and other sites to learn more of the folklore for each one. It was kind of interesting that each one has its own tragic or interesting tale. The Headless Mule, Saci Pererê, and others are represented as described, and adds a nice touch to the game. Which also clashes with the voice acting in the game. Some of the voices loop heavily, and the cheese factor sometimes works, other times it just gets aggravating. Your character will stoically shout out “Be gone with you!”, which made me smile, however when I heard it 6-7 times in 2 minutes it was a little annoying. Would have been nicer to spruce up the lines a bit more. Some of the enemies, are hauntingly perfect like The Headless Mule, while others like the stage 4 dragon-esque creature is voiced by a sassy black woman. Oddly, she sounds a lot like the Dunkin’ Donuts drive through employee near my office, I honestly kept expecting an extra large toasted almond coffee with cream and sugar after every completed air combo.
Daily Espada is sadly an extremely short game. There is the re-playability factor as you can increase difficulty and increase the item chests you can access. There’s just not that much to the game however, I was able to beat four bosses and achieve one of the game’s two endings in one hour. There is another ending, which you can explore and backtrack across a couple of areas. Get more keycards and make your way to a final boss for an additional ending. It is more of the same. You can strive to complete all the achievements but it still doesn’t change the fact the game is really short. Aside from the bosses which are the highlights of the game, the lesser enemies that span throughout the game show’s rooms are easy and present little challenge. Especially while armored up these minions are mere fodder as you slice or shoot your way through each spawning room (they all respawn if you leave and come back). It’s not until the last two bosses that true difficulty starts to present itself.
There are some grammatical errors here and there, but its not really distracting from the rest of the game. However some of the stories leading up to the bosses were kind of disturbing. The Headless Mule, for example, just darts off with excerpts from a woman and her molestation/rape at the hands of the local priests. The dialog was a little “what the hell?!!?” amidst all the monster slashing. While a bit of a head scratcher in it’s presentation it does in fact go with the old Brazilian myth surrounding this boss. There were other elements that jarred me away from the fun, I experienced two game crashes to desktop. There’s heavy use of shadows and plumes of black smoke that can make action and combat confusing. Half the time I just button mashed until I ended up on the other side of all the black.
In short, Daily Espada is a fun game and while short and carrying several nagging issues with it, is still worth a look and a play through from any action platformer fan. The added mixture of Brazilian folklore mythology was a nice touch and could perhaps awaken the curiosity in other gamers as it did with me. The fluid combat and creative boss battles may bring you back for some quick pick and play action, but simply don’t expect a lengthy game by any means.