Every family has that one family legend. You know the one I’m talking about. These stories usually weave the wildly absurd with ground facts. No one knows whether or not it is true, but it has been retold so many time that it may as well be. Within this review, we will be looking at one such story. This is our view of Bladed Fury for PC.
Coming to us for Chinese developer NEXT Studios (Iris.Fall), Bladed Fury is a 2D side-scrolling, hack-and-slash style game where you play as Ji Jiang, daughter of Duke Kang of Qi. It is a tumultuous period for state of Qi. For nearly a hundred years, members of the Tian clan have been weeding out members of the Jiang family, seeking to usurp their power. In an effect to bring peace, Duke Kang offers his daughter Shu’s hand in marriage to forge a familial alliance.
Unsettled by her sister being used as a political pawn, Ji means to approach her father to confront this decision. However, upon entering her father’s chambers, she finds her father dead at the hands of a malevolent demon. As she dispatched the demon, rumors fly that she has killed her father. Shu agrees to go with Duke Tian in an attempt to pardon her sister.
And so, Ji’s journey begins.
Equipped with the Fiendbane, a pair of jade ritual blades, Ji must clear her name by confronting those who were in the palace during the events of her father’s death. Along the way, she will meet spiritual forces which will bestow her with the Crimson Mass (a giant sword) and teach her about Soul Slivers – residual spirits of the deceased who would lend their aid to Ji. These guides will also help her on her quest, but with an unexpected question: Is her true desire for true redemption or is it vengeance?
In typical hack-and-slash tradition, Bladed Fury gives two different attack types along with blocks and dashes. Using Fiendbane serves as your quicker, but lighter attacks whereas the Crimson Mass serves as your slower, heavier hitting attacks. The Crimson Mass can also be used to break armor and to deflect projectiles. The latter part is great conceptually, but is it ever a pain to try to time them right! Each weapon produces different attacks based on the directional buttons you hold while attacking. For example, holding up while using the Crimson Mass can pitch enemies into the air where you can meet and subsequently slam them back the the ground with a downward attack.
Unfortunately, this is about as deep as the melee combat goes. There are no cross combinations or bonuses by mixing up which weapon you use other than those which fit the situation that you find yourself in. It would have been great to see a little more nuance within this system. Even though you can unlock new abilities for both weapons, none of these unlocks really give any greater variety to your attacks.
What is unique about the combat within Bladed Fury is the Soul Sliver system. As mentioned before, there are enemies that you will fight whose souls long for redemption. In order to achieve that, they pledge themselves to Ji to help her along her journey. Each warrior benefits Ji in a different way. Where one may slow enemies down, another will heal Ji… and yet another will summon a giant cannon a la Iron Man’s super move from Marvel Versus Capcom.
And this is but one place where Bladed Fury starts to go off the rails.
For the most part, the art style of Bladed Fury takes its cues from classic Chinese paintings. However, in Ji’s character design (among many of the other female characters), it feels more like anime-inspired fan-service than it does an homage to the period. There are other places where it feels like NEXT Studios changed art directors two or three times during production. Some parts of Bladed Fury feel very grounded in their presentation while others feel like a strange combination of steampunk-meets-Guacamelee. The lack of consistency is a bit jarring in a game centered around a particular culture and time period. The only consistent thing holding the art together is the soundtrack.
Bladed Fury takes about 3 hours to complete its main story on normal mode – even with it’s confusing (and mostly useless) map system. Beating the story mode unlocks both the hard difficulty and a boss rush style Challenge Mode.
If you like beat’em up style hack-and-slash games, Bladed Fury may be a title you will enjoy. While the combat does not get terribly deep, delivering punishing blows can be satisfying. The story is pretty compelling – even if it takes excessive liberties with the history. It will take you on a journey to discern the difference between reactionary vengeance and redemptive justice. It is a family legend worth telling, but the story-teller could use some work in the delivery.
Bladed Fury is $9.99 USD on Steam.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on Steam with a code provided by PR.
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