We know that comparisons are often odious. Many believe that resorting to them in a review is an “easy way out.” However, they are handy when describing something clearly to an audience. That’s why there are concepts that, by definition, are comparisons: ‘Metroidvania,’ ‘roguelike,’ ‘souls like,’ etc. With this in mind, we can say that Blade Assault is like Hades, but in 2D.
This work of the South Korean studio Team Suneat aims to conquer us with a retro aesthetic and ‘cyberpunk’ setting that is still very popular despite the years that have passed since it became common. Fortunately, these are not just appearances, as it has intense and action-packed gameplay that -combined with its roguelike elements- offers a very entertaining experience.
Blade Assault begins by telling us the story of Kil. This young warrior seems to be a soldier of Esperanza, a beautiful high-tech city that floats over the remains of a destroyed world. The protagonist has rebelled against his bosses -Electra and Panus- so he is exiled from the city and thrown to his death.
|Special Feature||Replayable levels|
Kil manages to survive and awakens in the bowels of the lower city, where the ‘second-rate citizens’ defend themselves against the mutant attacks. After joining the resistance, Kil decides to invade mutant land and make his way to Esperanza to exact revenge on its corrupt elite.
And the story pretty much stops there. Over the next few hours, we’ll repeatedly run through the same six levels, obtaining resources and getting stronger and more vital to get further and further with each attempt. True to its ‘roguelike’ – or rather ‘roguelike’ – roots, we can’t save in the middle of a game. With each death, we will return to base and must start the adventure all over again. Some of our resources are recurring, but most upgrades are lost at the end of each attempt to reach Esperanza.
Blade Assault Gameplay
This structure has become increasingly common, and one of the games that have come closest to perfecting it is the excellent Hades. The game by Supergiant Games is divided into rooms with random rewards in which we can sometimes choose between several options to create a character build. Blade Assault copies this idea, and although it is not as polished, it works pretty well.
At the end of each room of the game, we are given the option to choose a door according to the rewards we want. These can be Elemental Cores (fire, electricity, and ice) that boost our attacks and skills or give us more combat options. We can use Jewels to open the chests, pay the characters we find in the game to get improvements, and Roses that serve to alter and enhance attacks. We can also find Coins and Chips. Only the latter two are kept in our inventory after a game, and we can use them to buy permanent upgrades for the character and weapons.
Speaking of characters, Kil is quite versatile. We have excellent control over him, which is vital in the face of how intense and chaotic combat can get. The number of enemies, their different attacks, and the speed at which everything happens can cause us to lose track of what is happening. We can indeed learn to “read” the situation and act accordingly game after game, but the crowds of enemies and gunfire can cause us to miss attacks in time. This does not seem to be a design flaw. The game is balanced so that we can deal with groups of opponents rather than one on one.
Blade Assault game opinion
We can unlock up to three weapons for Kil: the energy sword, a slow but mighty ax, and a rifle to attack at every distance. Each has different passive abilities and moves that change the way we play. We can also unlock two more characters: the ninja Jenny and the swordswoman Darcy. Although they are controlled similarly to Kil, their abilities evolve in radically different ways.
The sheer number of characters and ways to play with them is Blade Assault’s primary source of variety. As it turns out, despite its ‘roguelike’ nature, there is slight variation in the scenarios themselves. We always end up visiting similar rooms with similar enemy configurations. In that sense, it’s more like the classic action games of the eighties and early nineties: very linear and with no way to save the game. The big difference is, of course, that in this title, the characters become more potent with each attempt.
An interesting new feature is the ‘raid level system.’ The longer we delay in a level, the more the difficulty will increase. Adding new types of enemies, giving more abilities to the bosses, and making the game more challenging.
A full playthrough of Blade Assault, defeating the final boss, can take about an hour, but having the power level and skill necessary to get to that point will take many playthroughs. The lack of a story can diminish our interest in going through the same scenarios repeatedly. After getting through the tutorial, we learn almost nothing more about the characters and the game world until we get to the final bosses.
It also doesn’t help that, despite the pixel art quality, most of the designs aren’t very original or eye-catching. The first few levels occur in destroyed cities, warehouses, and generic, boring sewers. Things get better in the mutant spider-invaded areas of the third level and the plant-filled lab, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Music-wise, there are excellent jazz compositions, but most of the tunes merely accompany the action without standing out.
Indeed, Blade Assault doesn’t have many original elements, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun. In fact, its short games and the variety of play styles we can achieve with different builds can make it quite addictive. It is only available on Steam, but hopefully, it will come to Nintendo Switch someday. That’s the platform where it could shine the most.
On that or on Steam Deck, if it arrives someday.
Blade Assault SummaryBlade Assault
Storyline60/100 NormalThe story is pretty popular and vide-used in various works. I know anime and other games with the same story.
Graphics / Design80/100 Very goodI love old-school graphics like this one. Pixel graphics in the Blade Assault are canonical but the gaming engine is pretty fast. There is a lot of action.
In-app purchases90/100 AmazingNothing to stop you from enjoying the game is hiding in the shop. Great job. But there are no skins etc.
Controls80/100 Very goodEasy to play the Blade Assault, but it can be better.
- Good variety in potential character builds
- Fast and intense action
- Excellent quality pixel art
- Bad rhythm in the development of the story
- It still has many bugs and grammar errors
- Not very interesting or original designs