Inside Pulse 12

Review: AeternoBlade (Sony Playstation 4)

AeternoBlade
Genre: Action
Developer: Corecell Technology
Publisher: Corecell Technology
Release Date: 8/04/15

Given their rise in popularity over the years, the “Metroidvania” genre of video game has seen its fair share of imitators to fill in the gap left by Konami’s abandoning of it. As with any genre of game, some hit the mark, some scratch the itch, and some fall short… sometimes far short. This brings us to the topic of this review, AeternoBlade, a Metroidvania style action platformer by little known eastern developer Corcell Technology. The game has appeared on multiple platforms previously, including the Nintendo 3DS and the Sony Playstation Vita, before coming to the Playstation 4, which is the version we’re looking at today.

The core plot of AeternoBlade is simple enough. Your character, the warrior Freyja, is out for revenge against an ultimate evil being known as Beladim. Why? Because he destroyed her village and all the people in it, including Freyja herself. Well, how the hell do we even have a game to play if the heroine is DEAD? Enter the mystical AETERNOBLADE, which Freyja receives from a mysterious stranger just outside her burning village. The sword itself has the ability to manipulate time, and sends Freyja back seven days prior to her death. Her task now is to find missing pieces of the sword to utilize its true power, and do away with the magic staff that Beladim wields that grants him immortality… and then kill him.

Wrapping one’s head around the base plot of AeternoBlade is not too hard, but it’s what goes on in between that can become rather confusing. Dialogue sequences and flashbacks occur frequently, and due predominately to the fault of a lackluster translation, these sequences typically come off as disjointed. Chances are good that the simple story the game is trying to tell would have gone over better if these extra narrations were removed entirely.

From a gameplay standpoint, AeternoBlade is a sidescrolling hack and slash affair that isn’t overly complex in the combat department. Jamming on the Square button will result in various combos, and alternative moves can be executed by pressing the stick along with the button. Defeating enemies will net you “orbs,” which can be used to upgrade various stats, items, and even combo strings. There are a good amount of things to upgrade, far more that you would be able to upgrade in a single playthrough. As previously mentioned, AeternoBlade is a Metroidvania inspired action platformer, so there are a good amount of secret rooms to discover on the map. As you progress, and earn new powers for the AeternoBlade, you’ll want to revisit areas and see if there are spots you can access that you previously couldn’t.

So, as mentioned above, the Aeternoblade can also manipulate time, so all your special powers for the most part are time based, and are reliant on a special meter that dictates whether or not you can use them. The initial power, as an example, invokes a sort of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time rewind effect that saves your character from death, and is activated by rotating the right stick. Other abilities stop time altogether, or manipulate the movement of certain moving platforms which is used in many of the games puzzle rooms. It’s not the most original mechanic, but when it works, it works well enough, and there are some good ideas based around the mechanic.

Generally, AeternoBlade plays fine enough, though it can feel stiff at times. Pulling off combos is relatively easy once you start getting into the swing of things, but general movement, especially with some of the more precise platforming, can be tricky due to what I personally found to be overly tight controls. It can be difficult to work with the mechanics at times as a result, making involved jumps far more risky than they should be at points.

Finally, for comparison’s sake, I downloaded the demo of the 3DS version to see what changes, if any, have been made to the experience, and the visuals have been sharpened up nicely for the PS4 release. Given it’s an indie game by a little known developer, the 3D models and environments are admirable in their quality and style. It’s nothing that’s going to “push your system to the max,” obviously, but the 3D is crisp and clean for the most part. AeternoBlade also has some fairly decent character designs as well, if that sort of thing matters to you.

Short Attention Span Summary:
AeternoBlade is a decent Metroidvania inspired platformer with some interesting concepts. The game trips over itself here and there, but if you can look past its confusing internal narrative and deal with its at times stiff controls, you might find yourself surprised how much this little game has to offer. The PS4 version is probably the way to go since the developer took the extra steps to sharpen up the visuals, so if you haven’t had a chance to try it out, there’s no better version to take for a spin.