Unchained Blades review
Unchained Blades is the latest JRPG localization from XSEED, however, for a system that is slowly dying does this game deserve your chance? Its anime aesthetic and notable work from certain people may entice but sadly that’s all it is. On paper the game’s ideas are cool and neat but the execution just isn’t there.
The narrative premise in Unchained Blades is fairly simple. The dragon emperor Fang travels to a shrine of the goddess Clunea in order to find out who is the strongest being in the world. Sadly, his rude attitude causes her displeasure and in an attempt to teach Fang a lesson, she turns him into a young boy. His goal is now to have his vengeance on Clunea and along the way, people join him and follow around.
If the narrative sounded a bit bland and derivative to you, it’s because the story is just that. The plot has no insane plot twists and the developments aren’t even that interesting. Fang, while not a typical character archetype, is a brash, hotheaded, arrogant character that doesn’t even remotely connect to the player at all. It’s hard to relate to him and his growth moves him into predictable territory. The other characters are just as problematic except they are more stereotypical than Fang is. A large golem who acts like a scaredy cat and a voluptuous Gorgon that fits the moe archetype are only a few. There is hardly anything worthwhile in this adventure and anything of value that might come out of it might be your perseverance with the game.
While the narrative premise might be horrible, the actual execution of the gameplay of Unchained Blades isn’t too shabby. At its core the game acts like a dungeon crawler where you must explore the various temples and caves and find your objective. Take for example, the second dungeon you encounter is a large temple where you must find a key that will aid you finding the goddess. The actual exploration is unfortunately filled with problems. The design of the dungeons aren’t that creative and the recycled walls and features of actual dungeons get tiring over time. While this is actually a problem with the genre itself, it’s hard to believe that the journey from point A to point B could be any more boring than Unchained Blades.
Each dungeon is filled with treasures that are waiting to be discovered and resourced to be found. Using harvesting equipment and your trusty map radar - which will blink red or yellow if a harvesting point is nearby, you can find resources and use them for crafting items. It could become an addictive thing if you’re into collecting everything in a dungeon, sadly you have to pick and choose certain harvest points since it’s quite costly to maintain your equipment.
If you’re not looking for treasures or any other misadventures then the primary thing you will be doing is combat. Separated into two types of category, Unchained Blades features a standard combat and Followers combat. In the former, the main cast of characters called Masters will fight against monsters that you run into in dungeons. Each Master can be equipped with Followers, which are like minions, that round out your attacks and skills making you stronger. It sounds like a deep system at its core but in reality it’s nothing but a poor attempt at complicating the bland turn-based combat system. To round out the Followers you also have skills that you can use at your disposal and Bursts which are your ultimate skills which require you to build up a gauge in order to use.