There was something about Bladed Fury that caught my attention immediately, with its striking Eastern-stylised visuals and frantic combat certainly ticking the boxes of what I expect from my 2D action-adventures. It has just dropped on the Nintendo Switch too, so what better time is there than now to see how developer NEXT Studio’s tale of revenge holds up?
Bladed Fury puts players in the role of princess Ji Jiang, the daughter of the leader of the Qi Clan Duke Kang, who finds herself framed for her father’s murder after he tried to place her sister into an arranged marriage with a rival clan. After escaping capture from the guards, she battles her way across a mythical representation of China in a bid to prove her innocence and avenge her father’s death. Fortunately, she just so happens to be a dab-hand at combat, whilst her arsenal of the twin-blade Fiendbane and the hulking great sword Crimson Mass ensure that she is well equipped for the perils ahead of her.
It’s your standard ‘revenge story’ really, though Ji’s affinity with the spiritual world and her combat skills ensure that there’s some intriguing elements at play throughout. Sure, you shouldn’t expect any big twists or surprises to catch you off-guard with a lot of the game’s narrative feeling by the numbers in its design, but it still does more than enough to keep players invested in the journey.
Bladed Fury’s adventure takes place from a 2D perspective, with players leading Ji through an array of different areas that bring with them a variety of small objectives and combat challenges.
It’s in the combat that the game shines the most. Players are able to string together an array of light or heavy attacks in combos against enemies, with various directional inputs allowing you to juggle opponents in the air with quick slices or even thrust your way downwards towards them with powerful lunges. The aforementioned Fiendbane is tied to light-attacks and Crimson Mass to heavy-attacks, with each weapon bringing with them distinct moves and combos that allow for plenty of flexibility in disposing of different foes types. That being said, I also found that mobility was often the key to most of my onslaughts against enemies, with Ji’s nimble movements making for some satisfyingly stylish beatdowns where you really have to pick your openings to strike at foes.
Ji’s defence-orientated manoeuvres can prove to be just as effective, with her nimble dodges and blocking capabilities allowing her to keep out of harm’s way. You can even add offensive attributes to these manoeuvres with a bit of good timing, with Ji able to both deflect back projectiles by catching them with a swing of her sword or even hit a counter-attack precision strike if she block an enemy attack at the point of contact. Whilst these are things that are seen in plenty of action games, they complimented the fast-paced combat of Bladed Fury perfectly and ensure that each showdown brought with it some strategic nuance for more experienced players. Combat just feels REALLY good throughout, with Ji’s destructive capabilities making taking down groups of enemies a real joy.
Ji will also face off against some more formidable bosses during her journey, with each providing a stern test of the player’s skills. Bladed Fury is never a hard game by any stretch of the imagination, but there will be times when the more unpredictable and powerful attacks of a boss might catch you off guard; they’re certainly the more deadly battles that you’ll face, with each proving to be a highlight of the game. I have to give kudos to the design of the bosses too, with the adaptation of Chinese mythology certainly helping strengthen their presence on the battlefield.
Beating these bosses comes with the added incentive of providing the player with additional abilities, with things such as buffs for Ji or improved attacking capabilities (with the hefty arm-cannon proving to be my favourite) giving you the upper hand in battles. You’re also able to upgrade your pre-existing move set by spending the in-game currency, so there is flexibility in place for players to focus on improving the moves that they find themselves using the most.
There really is a lot to like about Bladed Fury and I had a good time during my roughly three-to-four hour romp through the story. I haven’t even touched upon the visual style, which looks fantastic throughout within both its character and environmental design; anybody who appreciates traditional Eastern art will certainly find themselves in awe of the game’s visuals, even IF it can go a bit off the wall in some sequences. Whilst impressive though, I did encounter a few technical hitches that deterred from my experience a little.
For one, I noticed a fair bit of slowdown when playing on the Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode during some of the game’s busier sequences. Whilst it never hit unplayable levels of stuttering, it did make the otherwise smooth combat feel a little bit jarring in places. I even had the game completely crash on me during one battle, which was a little odd – it didn’t repeat itself during my playthrough, but it was a bit annoying.
It could also be argued that Bladed Fury can feel a bit too easy, with only the hardest difficulty ever offering a real test of my skills. On the flipside, taking down enemies with ease with the game’s slick combat always felt empowering, so it did have its benefits. Still, I’d argue that the best way to experience the game is on the harder difficulty… you’ve just got to finish the game first to unlock it.
Bladed Fury’s striking visual style and satisfyingly slick combat come together nicely to make for a really fun action-orientated romp. Sure, it was guilty of being a bit too easy and there were some technical issues here and there, but they didn’t stop me from having a thoroughly good time as I sliced-and-diced my way through countless foes in Ji’s journey for revenge.
It was a pleasant surprise given that I hadn’t even heard of the game before playing it, but fans of the 2D action-adventure genre will certainly want to give Bladed Fury their attention.
Developer: NEXT Studios
Publisher: PM Studios
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Click here to visit the official website.