10 Minute Barbarian, instant warfare gratification

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I saw a video of 10 Minute Barbarian on Polygon and it caught my interest because they talked about the best part of RTSes being the moment when both sides have huge armies and then they fight in the middle. True statement. All the resources management and stuff is part of those games but also the least fun part.

10 Minute Barbarian tries to shed some of that weight and focus really on the big battle part. In theory, it sounds great and even a quick video look suggests there’s some fun to be had…and there is, but it’s very minimal.

This is a turn-based game where you move your character around the board collecting soldiers, ranging from angry peasants to knights and dragons. And just like any real RTS, after you collect your men, more men start getting created, ready for the next battle. All that queueing up of men is automatic, which I have to say, is pretty nice.

The battles in 10 Minute Barbarian are also pretty hefty at first. The low-fi graphics mean you can really show all the individual men. It also means it runs pretty fast…heck, you can play a demo in your web browser without any hiccups. I’m down with the low-res graphics, that doesn’t bother me if the meat of the game makes up for it.

Unfortunately, 10 Minute Barbarian is shooting 50% when it comes to engagement. After you get the gist of how to play and smile watching your tiny men beat each other up, you’ll find the game is pretty thin on tactics and/or strategy. It’s one thing to remove the micro-management in a war game, it’s another thing to take out the strategy. 

The only strategy to consider is time. There’s a countdown clock that reduces by one with every move you make on the board. When the clock reaches zero, the apocalypse comes and delivers the pain…which basically means you’re left with what soldiers you have to fight the final bosses. It’s not easy to win, especially if you’ve miscalculated the number of dudes it takes to win a lesser battle. To say there is no strategy would be incorrect but the strategy you have to apply isn’t very rewarding.

I played the 10 Minute Barbarian demo online and then saw it was on Steam too….woohoo! Even though this game isn’t a hands down winner, I can see promise here and would happily pay now to see the evolution of this game. Alas, the Steam price is $9…and that’s a little steep for a game that very much feels like it’s in-progress. Add some more polish and fix some of the AI dumbness and then I’ll consider opening my wallet.

I’ll keep playing the 3-level demo during my lunch hour to get my daily fill of ancient warfare. It’s fun to watch and play…plus, it really does only take about 10-minutes, so you’re not out anything when you lose.

10 Minute Barbarian

5.5 Fun for 10 minutes
  • Presentation 5
  • Gameplay 6
  • Challenge 7
  • Longevity 4
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Brian is a staff writer at TMA. He races Hot Wheels at RedlineDerby.com while watching cartoons with his kid. You can follow @morningtoast on Twitter.

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