Blade Strangers Review
Nicalis and Studio Saizensen have decided to pit a number of indie darlings against one another in their new fighter Blade Strangers. There’s a definite novelty to seeing Shovel Knight take up arms against Cave Story’s Quote, but does it manage to stand out where it counts?
Blade Strangers Review
At first glance, Blade Strangers looks like your typical one-on-one fighter. There’s combos, EX moves, meter-using Ultra Skills, and a lot of flashy attacks. However, the control scheme is completely different from the industry norm. Quarter circle and charge moves have been thrown out the window, replaced with directional inputs and multi-button attacks.
Made up of a light attack, a heavy attack, a unique attack, and a skill button, Blade Strangers’ four button setup holds a surprising amount of depth. For a good example, take a look at the moveset for The Binding of Isaac’s Isaac. Depending on the direction used, the skill button can allow this character to do a tear shot, use Mom’s knife, throw a bomb, or even summon spiders, flies, and angels. Ultra Skills are also as easy as putting three buttons, and manage to turn the tide of battle while looking good to boot. By boiling the engine down to its most basic elements, there’s an easier barrier of entry and more of a focus on situational awareness. It won’t be for everyone, but we appreciated this novel approach to fisticuffs.
The 14 characters that make up Blade Strangers’ roster hail from a number of indie titles. Code of Princess, Umihara Kawase, Azure Striker Gunvolt, Cave Story, and others make their appearance, and manage to blend together quite well. Players certainly won’t be starved for choice – despite the roster being a fraction of that of its competition, each pugilist manages to stand out with their own unique benefits and drawbacks. The roster could use some balancing, but time will tell if the development team will make tweaks to these overpowered characters in the future.
Blade Strangers’ suite of options is nothing out of the ordinary, made up of an Arcade Mode, Training Mode, Tutorial Mode, Missions Mode, Versus Mode, Online Mode, and Story Mode. Online can be hit and miss – despite being out for less than a week, it can be difficult to find a match. Players can turn on a standby mode and be summoned for a battle, which is a nice touch. When a connection is made, however, our battles tended to be a little choppy. There is a ranking system in place, but the lack of competition will no doubt make it difficult for players to level up.
The aforementioned Story Mode manages to be serviceable as well, and will no doubt appeal to fans of their respective series. A bunch of “Mote” robots have brought characters together from different worlds, tasking them to fight against one another to find the Blade Stranger. What results is a bunch of awkward situations sprinkled with fanservice for good measure. Newcomers will be scratching their heads at what a Mimiga or the Foundation is, but it is still a welcome addition nonetheless for each character. Just note that there is a lot of overlap between the 14 individual stories – expect to see the same dialog multiple times.
Blade Strangers’ unique approach to fisticuffs won’t appeal to everyone, but those looking for something with both depth and accessibility will find it here. It might not be FGC-ready, but it manages to provide a good time for those with an open mind.
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