Review – Blades of Time (Switch)
Given how successful the Switch is, it feels like literally every single studio wants a little piece of the market share pie. Thanks to a huge user base, as well as the fact the Wii U had such a small library, it’s not uncommon to see developers port games from the previous generation for Nintendo’s handheld. The latest example to this trend is Blades of Time. Originally released in 2012 for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 (and published by Konami back then, oddly enough), this is a lesser known title that just showed up from out of nowhere on the eShop and despite its many flaws, it’s actually not that bad.
Blades of Time is a third-person hack n’ slash starring a sassy young lady with a British accent, but this ain’t Bayonetta. You play as Ayumi, a treasure hunter with not a lot of backstory. You’re travelling to a magical island to snatch a “dragon treasure” because, well, because you’re a treasure hunter. The plot is laughable and serves no purpose other than to give a reason for you to be in a fantastical setting killing monsters left and right. You’ll care very little about the plot, even though the main character won’t ever shut up about what’s going on around her. What’s even worse, her voice actress doesn’t even deliver a bad performance. She actually does the best that she can, but she’s hammered down by a downright amateurish script that would even make James Earl Jones sound like a complete imbecile.
Just like the recently reviewed RAGE 2, you’re not here for the story, you’re here for the gameplay. Thankfully, Blades of Time provides just enough for you to ignore its technical hindrances. Let me be clear that Blades of Time is not a complex hack n’ slash game. There are few combos, and the camera controls are so bad they make Castlevania 64 look polished in comparison. Nevertheless, the combat is still fun and stylish, and the game throws you enough enemy designs and obtainable spells for you to have fun with.
There are two other main gameplay features that distinguish Blades of Time from the vast majority of hack n’ slash games out there. The first one is the addition of third-person shooting mechanics. At the press of the right stick (weird button placement, may I say), you can choose between a rifle and a machine gun, both with infinite ammo, and shoot at foes at ease. The controls are as you would expect from a shooter: not impressive, but not complicated either. At the very least, the camera controls don’t ruin the fun in this case.
The other main mechanic in the game is the time rewind. It works a bit differently from what you’ve seen in the Prince of Persia games. Instead of just simply going back in time, you recreate clones that will re-enact your past actions, making this a useful tool both in combat sections against multiple enemies (which is basically always), as well as puzzle-solving sections.
Being a port of a game from 2012 on a more modern system, you’d expect Blades of Time to run without any issues on the Switch. Well, let’s just say that while it could have been a lot worse, Blades of Time isn’t impressive. The graphics are actually pretty good for the most part, as the titular character is well-animated and the overall environments are a lot more detailed than expected. The game actually looks nice when playing on portable mode. Two things hinder the graphical department though. The first one is the game’s intrusive UI. There is always a gigantic “PRESS BUTTON TO SKIP” message whenever there’s a cinematic cutscene, destroying any attempt to provide players with a bit of immersion. The second and most glaring issue is the framerate. It is completely unlocked and that means it can range from 60 to single digits, depending on the amount of things onscreen. Given how there’s almost always a ton of stuff happening onscreen, you can already imagine the results.
This is the beauty of the Nintendo Switch. Its portable nature and the fact everybody wants to publish games for it allow for a game like Blades of Time to find a new home where I would have least expected. It’s a deeply flawed game with technical issues and a pathetic script that I probably would have hated playing on a more traditional home console. But its somewhat enjoyable (and varied) combat, coupled with the overall lack of similar games on the Switch library, are somewhat more than enough for me to recommend this game to fans of the genre, especially in short bursts every now and then.
The environments are lush, varied, and well-detailed, even for last-gen standards. The main character is also decently animated. The framerate, on the other hand, is really inconsistent.
The combat mechanics are varied and serviceable, and the time rewind gimmick is actually really interesting. However, the camera controls are Nintendo 64 levels of bad.
While the voice acting isn’t technically bad, the script the poor actress is forced to read is so abysmal you can’t help but want to play the game on mute. The soundtrack is decent.
Fun Factor: 6.5
This would have been catastrophic on a more traditional home console, but Blades of Time has enough redeemable qualities to make it entertaining in short bursts, making the Switch the perfect home for the game.
Final Verdict: 6.5
Blades of Time is available now on PS3, Xbox 360, PC and Switch.
Reviewed on Switch.
A copy of Blades of Time was provided by the publisher.