It can be hard to stand out when it comes to creating another Dark Souls-inspired action game to rock. In theory, Point developer Blank Games had the right idea of how to do that with Stray Blade, creating a more accessible soul that focuses heavily on traditional storytelling in a fantasy setting. bright. But while that makes for a great first impression, every single one of its works falls short of both its own ambitions and the high standards that others in the genre set. Poor level design, uninteresting world building, and shoddy combat mechanics made this never find its way home.
As the capable and curious Farren, you find yourself stranded on the magical island of Arcea with no way out but to be led on a quest to destroy some great villains, break the seal. magic and yada yada yada – you know. I’m starting to like the self-respecting heart of the golden hero Farren and their relationship with their cunning and selfless spell-shooting sidekick, Boji, but this story is nothing you’ve never heard before, and told in forgettable explanatory dialogue and legendary pickups. As I followed the main road, I felt like I was stopping to hear the two characters talk to each other about their local environment, their background, or their quests all too often. The narrative of lonely, barren, and opaque souls has grown tiresome these days, but Stray Blade feels like it’s been over-adjusted when trying to go in the opposite direction.
The world itself is beautiful, at least. It’s the epic scale and bright colors that really help Acrea look like a magical fairy tale fantasy world. The sites themselves don’t feel much different from each other other than the color and flora. You do the same kind of platforming and caving in each area, where you’ll find lots of nooks and crannies hiding crafting materials or flint. I found myself heavily distracted by side passages for the roughly 18 hours it took to finish Stray Blade, and I always felt the final reward was worth the effort.
That said, the layout of these areas is often confusing, lacking many good landmarks to help with navigation. The in-game map and on-screen compass also do a trivial job of helping you find your way back to work. The former has no way to represent altitude, so you can’t tell if the location is high in the mountains or deep in the valley. Meanwhile, the compass can show you the direction, but not the way to go, so you’ll often have to rely on Boji’s context clues that occasionally mark you down and point you in the right direction – but even then, Boji has a habit of just showing up in the completely wrong direction.
Stray Blade – Official Screenshot
Each area is filled with hostile enemies who don’t take your presence seriously. You’ll kill off these enemies pretty soon, with the stronger versions swapping colors and adding new attacks here and there later on. Combat, though largely limited by stamina with weapon-type combos a la Dark Souls, tries to spice up an outdated formula to mixed results. The weapons themselves come in many forms, from powerful hammers to nimble daggers, each with their own light and heavy attacks. Some of the more unique weapons, such as the Arcane ones that you’ll have to explore to find in the mid and late game, are fun. Some of my favorites include an unreasonably large molten sword that explodes on impact or a katana that increases in size with each swing in a combo.
Enemy attacks are color-coded: red ones must be dodged and blue ones can only be blocked. The perfect timing to dodge or parry will restore some of your stamina, and especially well-timed parry can drain the enemy’s readiness gauge, giving them a chance to execute when no more bullet. The problem is that timing windows are all over the map, with a combination of muddy responsiveness and some animations that fool enemies that can make nailing defensive maneuvers a line. annoying learning curve. Missing also feels especially bad, as enemies can easily catch you in extremely punishing stun rounds in return.
The red/blue light concept itself makes combat easier than those of Stray Blade’s contemporaries, but is also much less expressive. You will spend most of your time defending with binary options, attacking in the window you have open and then repeating until the enemy dies. Difficulty actually fluctuates due to factors such as enemy behavior, frequently going off course, causing enemies to stand still or awkwardly run in circles – or in some cases, they are so evasive. I’d rather step off the cliff myself than die. Farren’s sword. When fighting multiple enemies at once, the Stray Blade’s truly terrible locking system will stick to one enemy and refuse to change its target, or when it changes (usually when the original target is lost). defeated), it will pick the enemy that makes the least sense to target next.
The skill tree is huge, but it’s a bit confusing because any actual “skills” you learn come from outside the tree, usually from defeating bosses. Instead, it’s more of an elaborate stat that encourages you to try a variety of weapons because boosting things like max health or base attack damage is tied to how many kills you get with each kind. This affects both your strength and the overall sense of development behind your ability to craft new weapons and find new blueprints, the former being harder than the latter. I’ve spent a lot of my adventuring gathering materials and still never seem to have enough to make all the blueprints, burning a hole in my inventory.
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