Blades of Time wasn’t a particularly well-received game when it originally released back in 2012, so to say my expectations weren’t high coming into it seven-years later is a bit of an understatement. With Bayonetta 3 still a while away though and my own craving for some hack-and-slash action at a high, I thought it’d be worth giving a try.
Turns out I was wrong. With low expectations in tow, it still managed to disappoint with the whole experience plagued by performance issues and general sluggish design throughout.
Blades of Time sends you on an adventure as treasure-hunter Ayumi, who visits an ancient island in order to uncover a legendary treasure. It turns out that there’s a lot of mystical happenings going on there as well though, with a strange magic powering the island and plenty of vicious villains inhabiting it who are out for blood. It’s up to you to stop them and find your way to safety. It’s hardly the most thrilling of narratives and a dull script will do little to excite you as you progress through it either, but its adequate in giving some context to your journey.
The core gameplay experience sees you mashing together combos to vanquish enemies, all whilst rolling out of the way of incoming attacks and then building up your ‘Rage’ meter to dish out some more powerful abilities. You’ll unlock new attacks to assign to your ‘Rage’ meter as you progress through the game which can be more effective against specific foes, so you’ll certainly feel your fighting abilities improve – there’s a lack of depth to it all though so it feels a bit underwhelming when compared to the likes of Bayonetta. It’s not bad by any means, but you’d have seen hacking-and-slashing done better elsewhere.
Blades of Time does add an interesting twist to proceedings though by allowing the player to rewind time momentarily. This doesn’t wipe out your previous actions though, but rather allows you to leave temporary clones of yourself in place that perform your actions in reverse. It’s a good way to string together a few additional attacks on enemies, but its use is most effective when solving the environmental puzzles you come across.
In fairness, the concept itself is pretty neat and it can add a stylish flair to the game’s combat, but its implementation is a little finicky in design. It’s never as simple as just unleashing time-bending attacks on your foes, with a demand for accuracy and perfect timing on your actions if you want them to be of any use. It’s not so much of a problem when solving puzzles, but it leaves its use elsewhere a bit more hit and miss.
So we’ve established that the combat of Blades of Time isn’t bad – unfortunately, almost every other aspect of the game is either flawed or broken. The awkward camera feels like it has come straight out of the 90s with its terrible controls and struggles to follow the action, some enemies don’t even notice you’re there or just get stuck in the environment, whilst the controls themselves can be a burden with it often proving tricky to simply line up locked-on attacks with certain enemies. Add to that a frame rate that is rarely consistent and you’ll quickly find yourself feeling incredibly frustrated just trying to perform simple actions in the game.
It’s a shame too because there were times where I was enjoying myself. Sure, Blades of Time does nothing special, but a bit of mindless action and simple puzzle-solving is all you need at times – even if the experience itself is a bit half-baked.
Nobody really likes a half-baked shit cake though, and do you want to know what cherry on top of this one is? The crashes. I lost count of the amount of times that the game simply crashed on me and forced me to reset it completely. There didn’t seem to be any common denominator in the crashes either, with them occurring randomly in-combat, whilst exploring the environment, or even in a cutscene. It gets worse though: one of those crashes resulted in my save file dying, meaning I had to start it all over again. Perfect.
By the time I reached the latter stages of Blades of Time I was done. There is a multiplayer-focused mode included called ‘Outbreak’ that’s based around defending your own base whilst attacking your opponent’s, but I didn’t put any time into it. After my experience with the single player story I was done with the game, and if those problems exist in ‘Outbreak’ too I can’t imagine that it’ll have a thriving online community.
It’s pretty clear that I had a bad time with Blades of Time, but I will praise its visuals. Whilst they’re not overly attractive by any means, I did like exploring the game world and found a lot of the enemy designs were neat too. It was guilty of being a little busy on the small screen when playing on the Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode at times, but at least the vibrant and varied locales you visit give you some interesting things to see. I guess it’s not ALL terrible…
I really, REALLY didn’t like Blades of Time. It’s not because it’s an awful game, because it isn’t really – the actual combat could be alright at times, whilst the environments you explore could be pretty intriguing too. I’ve certainly played worse.
It’s just that everything else about it is so poor. The camera, the frame rate, the lack of polish, the constant crashes, the fear that you could lose your save file at any moment… do I need to go on? I simply cannot recommend that anyone purchases the game in its current state and wish that I had Ayumi’s time rewinding abilities so I could go back in time to dropkick myself in the face the moment I decided I’d give it a try.
Developer: Gaijin Entertainment
Publisher: Gaijin Entertainment
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch