Time to die…
Everyone loves a good hack and slash game, there’s no better feeling in gaming than unleashing an insane combo upon enemies thanks to your massive sword. The likes of Devil May Cry and God of War immediately spring to mind, with new release Blades of Time looking to follow in their giant footsteps. Does it match up to the aforementioned classics or is it a title that will quickly be forgotten? Read on to find out.
Game: Blades of Time
Developer: Gaijin Entertainment
If you’ve played X-Blades, you’ll find yourself in the familiar virtual shoes of Ayumi, a treasure hunter who finds herself on a remote island called Dragonland. Along with her friend Zero, she is on the hunt for the treasure of the Dragon Temple to take back to her Guild Master. As you’d expect, the quest doesn’t go smoothly, Zero goes missing, leaving Ayumi to fight the Skyguard and complete the objective. The feisty female is guided through her journey by a helpful companion and Altars that give her powers to take out enemies with a little bit more style. The story isn’t the deepest, it would’ve been nice if Ayumi had been given more choice on the road to completing her quest. Still, it’s enjoyable enough, but it’s hard to see anyone feeling a real affinity with Blades of Time’s characters and world.
Whilst Blades of Time isn’t an awful looking game, you can’t help but feel disappointed with its visuals. There is so much potential, especially in terms of the surroundings, yet the final product fails to shine. Although the games features some nice use of colour, you only have to look at other games in the genre to see what could have been. Blood is horribly over exaggerated, so much so that it’s hard to distinguish between your clone and the splatter from your enemies. That said, the enemies (especially bosses) look very good and end up being the game’s visual highlight.
Unfortunately, the audio is another part of the game that could have done with more attention. Whilst this is more of a graphical issues, lip syncing doesn’t quite match up to what a character is saying on-screen. Voice acting, especially from Ayumi, is incredibly suspect and is likely to annoy more than anything else as you progress through the game. Sound effects are decent though, matching up to the hack and slash action on-screen well.
Moving away from the negatives, the hack and slash gameplay on offer in Blades of Time is actually decent. Although simple, the combat mechanics can prove to be a real joy, especially when you get new powers from the Altars. Each time you are given a new power, you are transformed into an arena where you can try out your attack without the worry of losing any life. You can’t just spam magical attacks though, as they are only available to use once a skull on the your bar lights up, done by successfully laying the smackdown on enemies. Some attacks require one skull to be lit up, whereas other more fatal powers will require two skulls to be lit up. This mechanic keeps the combat interesting, meaning you’re never under or overpowered when taking on enemies. The scantily clad Ayumi can also carry guns (most with unlimited ammo), but only one at a time. This isn’t much of an issue though, as the game doesn’t include many firearms anyway.
As mentioned earlier, slashing your way through hordes of enemies can be a fun, but it can also end up frustrating you too, depending on the enemy you are facing. All of the enemies you come across throughout the game are stored in a book that Ayumi carries with her, giving you some insight into their abilities. However, even reading up on certain enemies doesn’t stop them being ever so slightly annoying. You do have a special ability (available when your target is weakened) that makes dealing with these enemies a little easier, dealing an incredible amount of damage in the process. It doesn’t always completely take enemies out, but it’s a nice distraction that breaks up the hack and slash gameplay nicely. Staying on the topic of enemies, the boss battle in Blades of Time are a lot of fun, ranging from massive robots to a worm with three heads!
One of the main features of the game, as the title suggests, is Ayumi’s ability to rewind time. By using this ability, you are able to clone yourself and get to areas of the game that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. For instance, if you come across an two pressure sensitive pads that activate a gate leading to the next area, you can make use of the ability and progress to the next section of the game. You can also rewind time to help Ayumi take down groups of enemies quicker, so it has its advantages during combat too. On the whole, it’s a welcome addition, introducing a tactical and puzzle element to the gameplay.
Experienced gamers and fans of the genre will more than likely fly through Blades of Time with ease in 8-10 hours. If you’re a newcomer to the genre, add a couple of hours to that figure, as it might take you a while to get used to certain mechanics and beat a few of the bosses. You can always tackle the game again on hard, but that depends entirely on how much you enjoyed your first playthrough.
The sub-par presentation might put some people off, but spend a few hours with Blades of Time and you’ll find it to be a decent hack and slasher. It’s worth a look if you’re a fan of the genre, but hard to recommend otherwise as a day one purchase. The potential for an excellent hack and slash title is there, hopefully Gaijin are given the opportunity build on what they’ve produced with Blades of Time and deliver a more polished experience with their next effort.