Unchained Blades review
[Continued] Page 2
The other combat system is a rhythm based game where directional buttons zoom across the screen and you must time your presses. It’s an extremely empty system devoid of any personality. Simply put, the Follower combat is contest of quantity where the side who has the larger number of Followers wins. Still, you must level up your Followers by attaching them to Masters in standard combat in order for them to be effective in this type of fight mode.
Unfortunately, the combat of the game is extremely erratic. The beginning of the game is somewhat of a challenge since you have no healers and the enemies deal a good chunk of your maximum health. To add to the predicament, your income from battles is low and its difficult to spend money on medicine to heal your characters up. While this is only a problem in the beginning, as you tread through the various dungeons, the monsters deal an absurd amount of damage forcing you to grind in previous areas. The problem is that the experience yield is often times low forcing you to either spend large sums of money to buy healing items.
Luckily, unlike its combat system the customization for the characters is quite deep. Each Master has various wheels filled with a stat buff. In some way, these wheels are connected creating a web of sorts. By accessing certain nodes you are able to unlock new wheels which are filled with skills, buffs, and other abilities. It’s interesting and since you are limited in the amount of skill points you can use - which you gain by leveling up - there are various builds you can try. Sadly, the game’s difficulty doesn’t allow for testing that much.
The visuals of the game fit the typical anime style featuring boys that look androgynous and girls that seem to have overdeveloped bodies. The characters themselves look perfectly fine and it isn’t too much a stray from what the audience that this game is catered to is used to but the same cannot be said for the monsters. They are ugly and uninspiring with little to no detail put into them. It looks like a few grade schoolers drew it up in their freetime. The art design of the world is quite nice with varied environments and towns filled with color. All of this combines in the short anime cutscenes and it looks fantastic.
Exuding brilliance, the soundtrack of the game is quite vibrant and ambient due to the work from Nobou Uematsu. The celebratory fanfare is welcome and adds to the adventurous tone the game sets. The voicework on the other hand is quite hit or miss. While it features voice actors that are prominent like Troy Baker, the actual execution is odd. It’s overly dramatic and flamboyant making any situation somewhat comedic in nature. In short, you can’t take anyone seriously.
Perhaps the best way to describe Unchained Blades is a poor execution of trying to attempt a fond look at the past. Using poor gameplay mechanics in combination with a narrative that rarely intrigues, Unchained Blades somehow creates a premise that makes you want to actually return to the past rather than look back at it. If you’re hoping to find an excellent JRPG experience in the PSP’s dying days then this game isn’t it. Just leave this one chained up and walk away.