Review: AeternoBlade (Nintendo 3DS)

AeternoBladeAeternoBlade
Publisher: Corecell Technology
Developer: Corecell Technology
Genre: Action/Platformer
Release Date: 02/18/2014

In AeternoBlade, you play as Freyja, the sole survivor of a town destroyed by a guy named Beladim that looks suspiciously devilish. She’s got little memory of anything else, but she it totally out to avenge her town. If you feel like you’ve heard this before, that’s because you have: of course Freyja is out for revenge and of course she just so happens to have the one weapon that has any chance of defeating this guy on her, and of course she has no idea until some stranger tells her it’s like, totally powerful and stuff. The story continues on in this kind of predictable fashion, leaving no real surprises. The writing isn’t that amazing either; mix a spotty translation in with droll dialogue and you have this game’s plot, honestly. The sword itself is kind of cool though: it has the power to manipulate time and space, which enables you to revive yourself on a limited basis, rewind time, and teleport. But even this is a rehashing of several other games that have done it better.

AeternoBladeGraphically, the game is okay. It’s definitely not pushing any boundaries and looks more like an old Playstation game than anything, but aside from oddly shaped heads on some of the characters (maybe that’s just me), AeternoBlade does what it needs to. The character designs are cool (other than the weird sliver of under/side boob Freyja has going on for no reason) and the major cutscenes are well done. There’s no 3D effect to speak of, so you’re really not missing anything if you have it off. The enemy designs are interesting enough, but they’re definitely reused throughout various stages, sometimes without even a palette swap. The music is decent, but can be a bit grating at times, especially if you get stuck anywhere and have to stay too long in a stage. I do really like the sound effects, though, as weird as that may sound.

Considering the whole “sword can manipulate time” thing, it should be a bit surprising that the gameplay is fairly standard, if not simplistic, as well as the fact you don’t actually need to use time manipulation very often. You use B to jump, Y to attack, and X to use a special attack that utilizes meteors somehow; you’ll also use L and R later on to do some limited time manipulation stuff. As you kill enemies, you’ll pick up orbs: blue orbs give you mana, red orbs give you health, and yellow orbs function kind of like money in that you can use them to buy upgrades to your character and move set. You’ll utilize these moves and the skills the blade offers to you in order to explore the different stages, each of which has several areas that may or may not require you to have a specific skill set in order to get to them. In other words, it’s your standard Metroidvania game.

AeternoBladeThe game starts off pretty slow, and I suppose I could say it picks up after you gain a few moves and you’re able to add relics to the sword to give it different boosts, but by that point, it wasn’t enough for me. Furthermore, the boosts that you can give to your character and weapon are artificially limited by how much of the game you’ve completed. I’m not really one to enjoy grinding, but if I want to overpower my main character, I should be allowed to do so. Then again, considering how simplistic combat is, I guess they had to try to put some difficulty in there somewhere. I think they also try to add more difficulty by grading you for your performance in each level, but honestly it just seems like they take whatever your lowest grade is and give you that, and it never really has an affect on anything, so it just seems pointless.

AeternoBlade

AeternoBlade has limited action for an action platformer; in fact, the action part is pretty disappointing. Like I mentioned above, the moveset is rather limited, but to make matters worse, it’s not actually challenging to beat most of the monsters in the game, and even a few of the boss fights. They try to artificially inflate the game’s difficulty by having you repeatedly locked into a certain area until you defeat an arbitrary number of enemies, but beyond that, there isn’t a challenge. If you fight enemies, you’ll kill them after hitting Y a few times. If you don’t want to fight, well, just run past them. With the exception of the locked off areas, you don’t actually have to fight anything at all. The AI for the enemies is hilariously bad, with plenty of opportunities existing to defeat enemies without giving them the ability to even touch you. The best part of each stage were generally the boss fights, which seemed to have more effort put into it than the rest of the stage and actually required you to use your sword’s skills, something I can’t say for the vast majority of the rest of the game. Each stage feels like the last, even if they… kind of… look different from one another. There’s really no point in going back to any of the stages once you’ve gone through them once, though it seems like the developers want you to explore.

I want to like AeternoBlade, because it really seemed like there was some potential here, but unfortunately on everything other than the major cutscenes, the game falls short of its potential. I’m not sure I can recommend this game at all, to anyone. The frequent loading screens and the fact the game crashed my 3DS at least three times alone would make it hard to like, but add in all the other issues with the game and the experience feels more like a chore and less like a game. Corecell may come out with some interesting things in the future, but this title is not one of them.

Short Attention Span Summary
I don’t think I could recommend this game to anyone. Despite having relatively nice graphics (especially in the cutscenes), the music can get grating at times, the gameplay is lackluster, the writing is mediocre-to-bad, the translation is spotty, and the puzzles are either stupidly frustrating or too easy to be properly called a puzzle. Tie that in with frequent crashes and bugs, and this game isn’t likely to be making it on anyone’s favorite games list. There are other titles worth your time and money.

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