Demo Thoughts: Blades of Time

If you’re pressed for time, let me sum up this post in one sentence: I was so frustrated by this demo that I just gave up on it.  Now, if you have some time, I’ll clarify that sentence.

Blades of Time is supposed to be a spiritual successor to X-Blades.  But considering that the main character is the same, I’m not sure why it can’t just be called a sequel.  I’ve never played X-Blades, mainly because I took one look at the blonde anime girl in a white thong on the front cover & said, “Not gonna happen,” but from my impression of reviews it was attempting to be a God of War clone with more eye candy.  Blades of Time, however, seems to be going for more of a Tombraider/Prince of Persia clone.  But at least this time they put Ayumi in a pair of shorts instead of underwear.  Seriously guys, no woman is going to fight in her underwear, no matter what Hollywood tries to say.

Because I’d never heard of the game until I just happened to check the Demo section on XBL, I honestly don’t know a whole lot about it.  Even after checking around, the most I can say is that Ayumi is a treasure hunter who winds on up on a mysterious island that’s home to strange & powerful magic.  The style of gameplay is best described as hack-&-slash, while was cool with me.  Sometimes it’s fun to just run around killing everything in sight.  So long as the combat is entertaining, it’s fine with me.  Ayumi also gains some magic powers along with time controlling abilities.

The demo presumably takes place near the beginning of the game, with Ayumi exploring a ruin, although for what purpose I couldn’t say.  I assume looking for treasure.  The demo showcases basic combat, which consists of Ayumi’s dual swords, guns, magic & rewinding time.

Thoughts on the demo: There are different controls for Ayumi’s sword attacks, kick attack, gun attacks & magic.  I’m not sure if “magic” is the correct term, however.  As you fight, you build up your rage meter, which at certain points activates seals.  Using magic attacks requires these seals & unleashes special attacks such as Incinerate, which sends waves of fire out around Ayumi.  Completely filling the rage meter seems to give you the ability to heal yourself (unclear if this is true).  Ayumi also has a dash ability to get closer to enemies.

The Good & Bad:
      + Combat is fast & flashy
      + Multiple weapons to use
      + Inventive time control mechanics
      – Unable to invert camera controls
      – Lazy lock-on system
      – Poor tutorial system
      – Combat controls can be unresponsive
      – Camera too far back during combat
      – Dash has long recovery time
      – No block

The combat was very fast & fluid, which I enjoyed.  Alternating between slashes & kicks produced a variety to spectacular moves.  I also liked the time control system.  Instead of simply rewinding the game if you make a mistake, it creates a duplicate of whatever action you just performed.  So if you attack an enemy from the front & rewind, the duplicate Ayumi will repeat that action like a recording, leaving the real Ayumi to attack from behind.  This mechanic is also used to solve simple puzzles, such as standing a pressure plate to open a door.

But for all the fun of these controls, everything else about the demo annoyed me.  I think my main problem was that I wasn’t sure what I was doing.  The tutorial prompts were confusing most of the time, or I didn’t have time to read them while I was trying to fight enemies at the same time.  I think it would’ve been better if the demo had started at the very beginning of the game & went from there, instead of making me figure out the abilities I didn’t know I had.  As fun as combat was to watch, some of the controls were unresponsive, such as the dash or counter-attack.  Since the dash is the only way to avoid damage, as there’s no blocking ability, this means you’ll get hit a lot.  And taking damage prevents you from attacking, so I got stuck in a loop of being unable to move.  You can also counter-attack enemies at certain times, which is usually an insta-kill, but it didn’t work half the time.  The lock-on also seems next to useless if you’re fighting, as Ayumi never attacked in the direction of the lock-on.

Overall, this demo did not paint Blades of Time in a positive light.  The combat was fun, but it was held back by annoyances.  I may eventually rent the game just to see if the full game relieves some of these problems… but only if there’s absolutely nothing else worth playing.

– GamerDame

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