Bardbarian is a casual action game with hints of tower defense. I wasn't a huge fan of the game's cartoonish look, but tower defense is my favorite casual genre of game, and I go out of my way to try any game of the genre, whether it claims to add something new or not.
Bardbarian is fun in doses, but it quickly wears out its welcome. It adds something new to the tower defense genre, which is the fact that your "towers" are various characters that you can upgrade and you can influence their actions using music. You also have no stationary units (other than a full upgrade later on in the game where you can have units defend from on top of two buildings), and you are in charge of moving to the enemies and killing them off before they get close to your town center. While this is a new take on the genre, I didn't find that it added much enjoyment gameplay-wise, and in many cases, it turned out to be frustrating. You essentially have three entrances where enemies spawn, and the screen isn't large enough to cover the entire "field", so it's easy to be focusing on defeating enemies on one side of the screen and completely miss enemies coming through on the other side, because they are not visible on screen but only on the mini-map.
One of my favorite things about the tower defense genre is conquering maps and moving onto new challenging maps, and figuring out the best strategies for handling the routes enemies would take. Unfortunately, Bardbarian has one map, and one map only. It's understandable, in a way, because your towers are not stationary, so therefore new maps wouldn't be necessary. However, the game quickly becomes dull and repetitive because your surroundings are never changing. To add insult to injury, this game is one of the biggest grindfests I've ever played. Reading other reviews that state it was developed for phones now that I've played the game makes total sense, because this game sure does play like a phone game. Expect to play the same levels and waves of enemies over and over and over and over in order to save enough gold to buy even some of the most basic upgrades. Also, there are 20 waves of enemies, total, in the game. 20 waves TOTAL, which is equal to about one or two maps in most other tower defense games. The game only saves your level progress at every five levels, so if you don't beat the boss at the ends of levels 5, 10, 15, and 20, don't expect to start back on the level you died on. You have to go all the way back to the beginning of that "section" to try again.
Another issue I find with the game is the fact that your units are so easily killed, even when fully upgraded. Playing through a grindfest of a game to save enough for certain upgrades can be somewhat justified if those upgrades make the player feel as if it was worth it, but upgrading anything--anything, from the Barbarian's own health to his units or the town itself--feels ultimately underwhelming.
The game also sports a survival mode (with one map to choose from) and an escape mode (one map). Both are ways to post high scores, add small value to the game, and potentially make a little extra gold. Survival mode is fun for a few tries, but escape wasn't really my cup of tea.
In summary, I began this review with the intention on giving the game a "recommended, but only on sale for $2.00 or less," but the more I thought about the game to write this, the more I realized I couldn't justify recommending it. In the end, it's up to you to decide, but I implore those fellow tower defense fans out there to find a different game of the genre to try. Bardbarian removes more enjoyment from the genre than it adds, and to be completely honest, it's possible that tagging this game as tower defense does it an injustice, because I went into this game wanting something that I ultimately did not get. Bardbarian can be fun, but it plays like an action casual phone or online Flash game. If you are willing to pay to purchase it with that in mind, you probably won't be disappointed. Otherwise, I'm sorry, but I cannot recommend this.