Beholgar Review: Retro for Better or Worse

by David Sanchez November 10, 2022 @ 12:35 pm

Beholgar Video Game

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch

In a lot of ways, Beholgar is a really cool game. It has the look and feel of something we would’ve seen on the SNES or Genesis back in the 16-bit era. The pixel art is rich and beautifully retro. It has a nice barbarian theme going for it. And it’s genuinely fun to play a lot of the time. But then it falls victim to some setbacks that come as a result of being maybe a little too vintage.

A Tale as Old as Time

Beholgar keeps things simple in terms of its story. After a sorcerer summons an ancient evil by reading a passage in a cursed book (Evil Dead, anyone?), it’s up to the titular barbarian Beholgar to rid the land of this threat. There are witches, dragons, shopkeeps, and the usual cast of characters you’d see in this type of game. It’s cool, though, because that classic setup works well here. It’s simple, but effective.

Beholgar Gameplay

The visual look of Beholgar is distinctly 16-bit-inspired. Like Demon Throttle, released earlier this year, this game revels in a delightfully old school graphical approach. The level designs, foregrounds, and character sprites all look pretty great. Meanwhile bosses and mini-bosses are large and feature a lot of detail.

Interestingly, the game’s music isn’t as chiptune-y as you’d think. That’s okay, though, because the music you hear throughout the different areas is pretty catchy and overall very good. There are dark, ominous themes, and some songs even have a bit of a mild new wave vibe to them.


Though it doesn’t lean all the way into Metroidvania territory, Beholgar is very clearly influenced by the genre. The result is a Metroidvania-lite experience that doesn’t require loads of exploration and backtracking, but you will find yourself acquiring new abilities to reach different areas over the course of your adventure.

Beholgar Boss Fight

Combat in Beholgar consists of melee and long-range attacks. You’ll find different swords, spears, and axes during your travels, and these offer varying attack speeds and damage. There isn’t a lot of depth here, but you’ll notice the difference when you find a new weapon and you’re able to take out enemies with fewer hits.

Long-range weapons include fireballs, throwable spears, and small axes. These actually come in super handy as you’ll have to take out plenty of enemies from afar. Long-range weapons do deplete, but thankfully, you can find pick-ups to refill them easily.

The level of challenge in Beholgar is medium-high. The game isn’t too punishing, but it does have its moments. Sadly, you might also fall victim to some cheap deaths while playing. Enemies that use projectile fire can be placed in spots that make it damn near impossible to avoid taking damage. Sometimes you’ll have to perform some tricky platforming feats while also avoiding these enemies, which means you’ll take damage regardless, which can result in a low health bar and even death.

Beholgar Game

It doesn’t help that the platforming mechanics in Beholgar aren’t the tightest. The movement and jumping in the game feels too stiff, making traversal of the tougher areas an exercise in frustration at times. Unfortunately, this is what keeps Beholgar from reaching greater heights. It’s held back by its use of clunky retro controls and questionable enemy and obstacle placement to the point that it’s hard to enjoy at times.

That’s not to say that the game is terrible, though. There’s quite a bit to like here during its four-hour length, but you should know what you’re getting yourself into. Where something like Infernax did a great job of marrying old school design with modern polish, Beholgar is a throwback in every way, good and bad.

At the end of the day, it’s impossible to outright hate Beholgar for being faithful to the 16-bit era it’s attempting to emulate. The game isn’t necessarily bad, and there’s certainly an audience for it. But be aware that Beholgar is not without its share of flaws.

Score: 5 out of 10

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