X-Blades - PC - Review
While good “hack and slash” titles are hard to come by these days, occasionally a developer will come by and try to put a new twist on a classic genre. X-Blades makes no apologies for itself, from the mindless hordes of enemies right down to the nearly-naked female protagonist. The player takes on the role of Ayumi, a violent young lady bent on – you guessed it – destroying monsters in search of treasure. The game features two different endings, but the minimalist storyline is not likely to propel players any further into smashing their way through demons. Drawn up in a cutesy-anime style, her character design is the main standout in the game. The quality of her animation is something of a mixed-bag, with her full-speed run looking like many of the hovering and skating animations that plagued characters seen before in games of this style.
At the heart of the X-Blades combat system is three primary attack types, which consists of magic, melee, and ranged attacks. Her “gun-blades” combine the melee and ranged components into a single weapon (or, more accurately, dual weapons since she wields both of them). Carving through groups of baddies loses its appeal rather quickly, as very little tactical ability is required and the foes tend to be extraordinarily dumb, anyway. The magical attacks are your classic, elemental-based sorcery, ranging from powerful earthquakes to sizzling blasts of flame. Some of the animalistic beasties you’ll face are more vulnerable to certain “classes” of magic than others, not unlike the magical “houses” from Otogi of yesteryear. The magic itself is accumulated through combat, as are the various upgrades that will improve Ayumi’s combat abilities. Battles force Ayumi to remain ensconced in a designated zone until the enemies have all been destroyed, lending combat a forced intensity that feels a bit artificial at times. The ability to collect objects and navigate environmental hazards helps to break up the pace of the combat, but falls just short of what most players would likely consider “a good time.”
Much of the fighting, particularly where magic selection is concerned, feels rather unnatural in the heat of battle. Even players willing to tolerate the cumbersome controls will likely find fault with the gameplay itself where both the enemies and the environments become repetitive early on. The music and sound effects are all in working order, adequate but nothing terribly memorable. The game’s thespian performances are almost laughable at times, as Ayumi’s valley-girlish whining loses its charm almost as quickly as the combat itself. The biggest highpoint of X-Blades is probably its visual style, with the distinctive-looking heroine and almost blinding color palette lending a near comic book-like quality to the game. On the whole, however, there’s very little here that hasn’t already been done elsewhere, and with greater success. Since the game is already planned to be extended into a trilogy, one can only hope that the controls are streamlined and the gameplay given a hefty overhaul before Ayumi’s second outing.
Review Scoring Details for X-Blades
Clumsy, repetitive, and frequently dull combat leeches most of the fun out of an essentially simple game.
Not mind blowing, but some striking effects here and the character design is rather unique.
Decent effects and music, but the voice acting is fair, at best.
Players will find the game ranges from mind-numbingly easy to inexplicably frustrating.
Interesting character design and varied combat mechanics, but there’s very little truly inspired about it.
X-Blades may prove a pleasant enough distraction for hack-and-slash gamers thirsty for something new. Repetitive gameplay and bland design keep it from becoming anything outstandingly great.