“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”
“The following is a guest post by The Midnight Mystic Mage.”
Alright so it has been a couple of weeks since I completed the main story of Blades of Time. It was a load of fun and I am happy to get around to writing about it to share my experience with you.
The game follows our protagonist Ayumi who is a treasure hunter. The way that I described it to my friends was kind of a mish-mash of Tomb Raider with Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. There are abilities that allow you to rewind time as in The Prince of Persia game but there is a twist. As you rewind time you also have your copy fighting alongside you. So as you can imagine there are more difficult times when you will be fighting beside many other copies of yourself, this allows you to take down larger groups than would be possible without the feature. It also allows you to take down more imposing monsters or bad guys who require more than one type of attack to be done to them at once. It was a very interesting feature and I really felt that it made the gameplay a blast.
I played the version on Steam for Mac, the controls felt very good with a mouse and keyboard but I can not speak for the Xbox 360 or PS3 set up. The way the primary and secondary attacks were assigned to the right and left mouse buttons was a great fit, and I only had a little trouble with the special abilities being on the number keys. Once you played for long enough in a row though these also felt very natural.
You gain the special abilities through these altars that Ayumi stumbles upon at the beginning of her journey. There are fire abilities, ice abilities, slides, and many others. The fire magic will ignite your foes while also setting your blades ablaze (say that 3 times fast) while the ice magic will freeze your foes and cause your blades to do ice damage upon striking. Ayumi is lost in a mysterious place that she becomes trapped in while searching for treasure. The realm is run by the powers of chaos and to return home she must figure out what is going on and how to handle it.
The game was developed by Gaijin Entertainment and was published in part by Konami. I really enjoyed the graphics in this game. The scenes were beautiful and the character models were interesting and well executed. I wasn’t sure I would be into the whole scantily clad female protagonist, but the gameplay and story really helped you see past all of that.
Ayumi gets separated from her friend and fellow treasure hunter Zero fairly early in the campaign. She is searching for him for much of the game after this and eventually finds him with a group of people who think that they have found a way out of their entrapment. The plan of this group does not appear like a solid one to Ayumi who goes on to defeat the forces of chaos and find the way out that will actually work, with a little help from Zero and her new found allies.
I enjoyed the third person shooting mechanics of this game, which is not always a style I can get into. It felt very fluent and easy to use, I did not try with a controller but the mouse and keyboard worked very well for this aspect. There were different guns that helped increase certain stats. One might help with ice damage while another raises fire, etc.
Ayumi also has different costumes that you can change in and out of once you gain new ones, does not really help with stats, but still can be fun to toy around with. The swords work much the same as I have just described the guns, giving spikes in certain stats depending on which you choose. You find the different swords and guns using your compass which you begin the game with. You can bust it out at any time and it will give you both the direction of your nearest objective and any treasure chest containing weapons or otherwise that might be hidden nearby.
There is some DLC that I plan on getting around to playing but have not yet had the chance too. I might do a short review on my own blog or something of that sort when I get around to it. You take the role of Zero and the woman he is allied with after losing touch with Ayumi. I was really only able to gather about that much from what I played and that it takes place during the same time as the main game to kind of fill you in on what Zero was up to if I am not mistaken. It seems like a great idea for some DLC and I will be happy to see what they did with that concept when I am able to.
Blades of Time is a follow up to a game by the same developer called X-Blades. This title played very well as a standalone and I don’t think it is essentially necessary to play the first. In fact I was never even aware that there was a first game until doing some research for this article right now. X-Blades was released on all of the same platforms (Xbox 360, Playstation 3, & PC) besides Mac as Blades of Time about 5 years prior. Blades of Time is more of a spiritual successor than it is a sequel. It has the same main character, Ayumi, but apparently does not fall in any sort of sequential timeline of events.
I would love to see another addition to this series sometime in the future though I do not know if there will ever be another. The independent development company, Gaijin Entertainment, is still alive and going strong by the looks of it. They have a slew of mobile games that look very interesting and a pretty neat looking Steam game called Shadows of Kurgansk that appears to be a survival-horror/adventure game, alongside plenty of other titles that look very promising. They are based out of Russia and were founded in 2002, developing over 30 fantastic games. So here’s to looking forward to another installment of the series with Ayumi!
The 8-Bit Review
There were scenes in the game that were absolutely stunning. I felt that it was graphically very impressive the whole way through. I wish that I would have been able to play through it on my new PC build, but even on my puny MacBook Air the thing was pretty darn breathtaking. The visuals in this game were definitely the most prominent feature, though the gameplay mechanics were not far behind. I am usually made fun of by my fellow gamers for my complete lack of interest in whether a game is graphically better than the competition, but even I love to sit back and enjoy a game that is as pleasing to the eyes as this one was.
The songs throughout the game were pretty epic. You can get a taste of it by watching the video below. They did a great job of really adding to the gaming experience while drawing you into the gameplay and feeling like you are really there with Ayumi as she makes her perilous journey through Dragonland.
I loved the way that this game played with a mouse and keyboard. The right and left mouse button setup worked perfectly for the blade attacks and the third person shooting mechanic felt very smooth and natural. I am curious about the X-Blades game that preceded this one now that I am aware of it, I really hope that it plays as well as this one. Like I said earlier, I am also looking forward to Gaijin elaborating on this one or doing something else with this IP. It was a load of fun.
I really enjoyed the story and felt that it was pretty well developed. I just feel that it also could have used a little bit more. I don’t consider it to be one of the best elements in the game but it was not sorely lacking. I felt that it could have used a bit more developing in the relationships of the characters and possibly even to introduce a few more meaningful characters than what was presented. Overall though, still a great story with some pretty well developed characters.
I almost left this score bumped up a notch, but then that one level of platforming came into my mind. Much of the game is very easy to catch on to and the mechanics are just the right amount of challenging and understandable. There is one point though where the platforming is just ridiculous. You make the jumps and time them perfectly (or very close at least) and over and over you plummet to the ground below. This may be a personal gripe but it was extremely frustrating for me. I enjoyed the environmental puzzles and the time rewind mechanic, but some of the platforming was just not quite where it should have been.
There were times when it could be stupidly difficult, but most of those times it was because I was forgetting a certain trick that it takes to kill an enemy. The time shift mechanic was very unique, you were able to use it to create a miniature army of Ayumis to help aid you in the attack on your foes. Again if you try to go hacking your way through different crowds of enemies you will be met with frustration, but this is usually mended by taking a moment to remember the specific strategy that you will need to take down the slew of enemies in your path.
I feel like it is a bit derivative of ideas from Tomb Raider and Prince of Persia, but it is also a new and interesting take on these ideas. It may not be the first game of it’s kind but it is undoubtedly done very well. I feel that it deserves more attention than it has gotten, and I probably would have never heard about it if it wasn’t for the power of the almighty Steam sale, but I am very glad that I did. The time rewind mechanic is nothing new, but the idea of having copies of yourself fighting alongside you after you rewind is something that is very new to me.
My Personal Grade: 7/10
I would consider this game a hidden gem that you should definitely check out if you have one of the platforms to play it and can find it for a good price. It is $9.99 on Steam currently which I think is more than reasonable. You will probably be able to get it even cheaper than that when a sale hits or maybe even find a hard copy for the PS3 or Xbox 360. If the game style and my description sounds like something you might be into I would definitely recommend that you keep an eye out.
Aggregated Score: 7.0
The Midnight Mystic Mage is the resident writer of sublimereviews.wordpress.com, a reviewer of books and film and a fan of all things horror and spooky. Follow the link… if you dare!