Elements like distinct boss battles and worlds filled with curiosity around every corner are what makes action-adventure games magnificent. Blossom Tales achieves that magic found in other games like the Zelda series. Yet what sets it apart is its ability to show grace upon its predecessors and bring the genre back to life in full retro glory.
Blossom Tales main attraction is found in its inspiration from Zelda, and that’s OK. The game isn't just a best of collection and sold as its own game. Blossom Tales has its own identity by having creative dungeon designs, bosses and items that help expand the world and gameplay. When roaming around the expansive land of Blossom, there’s hidden objectives in each block of the land. For example, there are blocked entrances not available to the players until they again the abilities necessary to pass through and uncover the treasures that were hidden.
This expansion allows the gameplay to last significantly longer, but doesn’t force players to go back and see if he or she doesn’t want too. It’s what adventures games like this do best in its simplest form — lets players know about the enemies, characters, hidden secrets and objectives. It puts the players knowledge and skills to work, allowing creativity and design not present in the beginning of the game.
It’s a double-edged sword in a sense, as it doesn’t give the player the set of the abilities from the start. Instead, it makes them feel like the game is empty with nothing significant to accomplish or see. Luckily, Blossom Tales doesn’t have this problem through a linear storyline and a world that guides the player to the next objective. This allows the player to have a feeling of purpose even though the world around them is blocked off and empty — for the time being.
Though the hand-holding nature of passing through the storyline is present, it seems too streamlined for a callback to Zelda games. The game is telling the player where to go on the basic 1-2-3 dungeon layout and music that sometimes resembles that too much. It doesn’t mean what Blossom Tales has is bad for the most part. The dungeons and bosses are the true attraction and developer Castle Pixel shows true craftsmanship when designing each and every dungeon. They’re diverse in environments ranging from snowy mountains to devolved wastelands, making each landscape and dungeon feel unique. It's disappointing that this cannot be said for the actual gameplay in the dungeons.
The gameplay ranges from covering tiles in a blocked layout, pushing blocks into a specific spot to running across falling tiles while enemies attack in every direction. It’s neat in the first dungeon, but gets old by the end. There’s a small amount of variety in each dungeon by classically having certain items related to the puzzle but isn’t implemented to its fullest extent. It would be a great change to see the dungeons have more variety in terms of puzzles instead of increasing the difficulty from previous challenges.
The bosses come to the same fate. There’s only one true boss that puts key items into use. The remaining challenges are how fast the player can hit, dodge and use attack items to take down their foes. This is something that Blossom Tales tries not to copy from Zelda, but instead of thinking of it as a praise it becomes a disappointment instead.
When paying homage to a classic franchise, it’s best to go all the way instead of taking away the best parts. This is where the double-edged sword comes to a full circle in retrospective. On one hand, Blossom Tales is a true call back to the legendaries, with tuned gameplay and has its own heart and soul. On the other hand, it fails to achieve crucial elements that would of made the experience a tale to remember.