Saturday, May 18

Review: Blades of Time [Nintendo Switch eShop]

With game series like Bayonetta, Devil May Cry, God of War, and more out there raking in consistent cash it’s easy to see why people would try to tackle the hack-and-slash adventure genre. With a foundation built on crazy combos, some over-the-top weaponry, and enemies aplenty to dispatch with your personal brand of chaotic carnage they can be fun. However, as a game like Blades of Time points out, they’re also tricky to implement well.

Working with your impractically-armored heroine Ayumi, you’ll set out to some exotic locales in search of fortune and glory, meeting up with some unusual monsters along the way. Early on you’ll consistently get introduced to new techniques and game systems, many of which should be pretty familiar in some way to people who’ve played this type of game before. You’ll get to make choices as you upgrade, trying to choose which skills seem to suit your style best, and in general success seems to be possible no matter what path you choose.

Where the game tries to set itself apart a bit and do something different is with its time manipulation mechanics. Most of the time this is done to get by rudimentary puzzles, getting into place on a switch, reversing time to essentially clone yourself, and then hitting another to get by. It’s odd and can be a bit clunky but you get used to it. In combat things can get a bit confusing as well when you need to take on some enemies from more than one angle, but with some work you can get the hang of things and at least it’s different and shows some ambition on the part of the developers.

Even if all of the above worked flawlessly (it really doesn’t) the elephant in the room with regards to the Switch version of the game is performance. Even as de-sensitized as I tend to be in terms of framerates the frame drops in this game are frequent, jarring, and a serious problem. Within the first 5 minutes of play you can’t miss the issues and unfortunately nothing from that point really gets better. Worse, there are then sections where enemies would be almost bizarrely amped up and moving around really fast. It’s weird and really saps enthusiasm quickly. Throw in reports of a save file corrupting but people have run into and it’s not good.

Perhaps a patch can help improve things but even removing the rough performance edges and save corruption issues what’s left would be a middling game at best. There are moments when it shines, and getting into the groove with your combos can be fun but there are flaws and areas where the game hasn’t aged well that are really hard to miss. In its current state it’s not a game I can recommend, and even with some patching it would still be a tough sell on the whole.

Score: 4

  • The combo system does allow you to get into a good rhythm and has some variety
  • There are ideas here that help set it apart, just they’re not that well executed

  • Serious performance issues are impossible to miss
  • At launch there’s a save file corrupting bug people have run into
  • Even with the performance and save file issues addressed the game is ambitious but generally flawed