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At E3 Konami had a lot of games on display, some popular, others…less so. There were two stands that had a Blades of Time demo on display, and the lines for the bathroom stalls were longer than any line this game had during the show (a lot of us nerds apparently avoid using the urinals). That made Blades of Time something I had to check out, I’ve always loved hearing about the lesser known games of E3. So in between one meeting to the next I stopped by, picked up the controller, and had an excited PR guy step up to tell me about the game.
“This is by the guys who made X-Blades!”Â He informed me as though announcing something I should be excited about. Turns out that this is actually a sequel to X-Blades, so you know, the fan of that game can start getting excited.
Maybe I’m being too harsh, but X-Blades was notable for being derivative of better games, a character who wore skimpy clothing and failing at basic level design at the same time. When a game advertises that the lead character wears a thong, then it is likely everything about the game not thong related is going to suck.
Blades of Time right away asserts itself as being something different than the bland game the preceded it. For one thing, the protagonist Ayumi wears clothes in this game. In fact the entire art design of the game has changed, as in there actually is an art design this time. Ayumi doesn’t look like a generic anime character, she looks more like an actual woman. Sure, a woman who fights in a limited amount of clothing, but I have no problem with that. The environment in the demo received a similar art upgrade from the original. There was interesting use of light and color, and the level didn’t look like a generic arena.
Hell, had the guy never mentioned that the game was made by the X-Blades people I would have never guessed that it was even related to the prior game. Those similarities started popping up in the combat though, which was the best part of X-Blades. I was one of the people who thought the combat was decent in X-Blades, fast and furious hacking and slashing. Blades of Steel is similar here, where a few button presses means that you will see Ayumi flipping out across the screen like a ninja on cocaine.
Here’s where the game differs. For one, even in the first few minutes of the demo I saw a couple of different enemy types, and as long as those aren’t used over and over to death in the final game it will be a step up from the original. That and Ayumi has somehow gained the power to alter time. For example, if you attack a group of enemies you can rewind to the beginning of the fight. All the moves you’ve already done will be acted out by a shadow of Ayumi while you fight. There was an enemy with a large shield that I fought and I couldn’t get around his shield no matter how I attacked. So I rewound time and when I restarted it the time shadow of Ayumi did the same actions I had just done, which distracted the enemy with the shield which allowed me to attack it from behind.
Another type of enemy moved too fast for me to be able to see, but Aymui was able to cast a sort of stasis field about her which slowed these enemies down to a speed that was manageable. The time mechanics also carry over to puzzles that are set in the stages. I stood on a platform which opened something, but as soon as I stepped off it closed. So I stood on it for awhile, then rewound time so that the shadow version would stand on it. I saw two more stands in the distance and I turned to the representative and said “I’m going to have to just make two copies, right?”Â he looked annoyed and explained to me that the demo puzzles were intentionally easy, but that in the final game there would be more puzzles that would be more difficult. He also mentioned that Ayumi would be able to replicate herself six (six!) times.
While a sequel to X-Blades isn’t something I thought I’d be interested in, the thought of fighting a boss where I could keep rewinding time until there were six of my character running around attacking him actually sounds kind of fun. Plus if they’re able to create interesting puzzles around the time mechanic that will at the very least add an element of variety to the game that the very repetitive X-Blades was sorely lacking.
It’s an interesting direction that they’ve decided to go in for the sequel.