Platforms: Win, Mac, XBox 360, PS3
Sometimes, a woman has just got to dress inappropriately and beat the crap out of some demons. In Blades of Time, you play as Ayumi, a scantily-clad treasure hunter, who has managed to brute force her way onto an island called Dragonland in hopes of finding a whole bunch of treasure. I’m fairly certain that’s the entire story. Kill stuff and explore and look for treasure, and hopefully be able to get home again.
Despite the fact that the whole game seems to revolve around the idea of finding loot, there’s not a whole lot of loot to find. In about an hour of play, I think I’ve picked up four items, and there doesn’t seem to be any kind of gold or other currency. But there are lots of monsters to chop up with your very fancy double swords, lots of levers and switches and buttons that do things, and magical altars that will allow you to increase in power as you explore.
Although I’m not sure explore is really the right word. The entire game seems to be on a tight track – you’re given a compass to help you figure out which way to go, but there’s almost never any kind of choice. The world of Dragonland is crazy with invisible walls, and stuff that looks like it should be climbable but isn’t. There’s a whole bunch of breakable scenery that doesn’t hold anything, and powers are doled out fairly slowly. There’s also a somewhat irritating checkpoint save-system – except there’s no indication of where the checkpoints are, so if you need a break, you can’t be too sure how much you’ll have to replay.
On the upside, the world is absolutely stunning, if a bit repetitive. Combat seems to be a fairly uncomplicated button-mashing affair, but damn, it looks cool when you kick the bad guy in the face with your ridiculous high heels. There’s no inventory management, and only four equipment slots. This is not a thinking game. This is hack and slash at it’s most pure.
The “story” mode is about 10 hours long, with optional DLC that will add another hour, give or take. There is a multiplayer mode called Outbreak, but I wouldn’t expect to find too many people still playing due to the game’s age. It’s not an awful value for the $10 price tag, but it’s also available as one of 8 items in BundleStar’s RPG Heroes bundle, despite not being a RPG in any conceivable way.
If you’re looking for a slaughter-fest where you can turn your brain off and just look at pretty things (including the player character) for awhile, you could do worse than Blades of Time. It’s nothing special, but it’s functional and it feels good to play, which puts it head and shoulders above a lot of other games in the genre.