Blade & Sword Review
The developers of Blade & Sword are big fans of Diablo II. In fact, they like it so much that they’ve produced a game so like the source of their inspiration that it could easily be mistaken for a mod rather than a standalone game. However, like most clones Blade & Sword may look a lot like the original but it lacks a soul. The game captures the interface, mechanics, and look of Diablo II, but the exciting gameplay was lost in the translation.
Blade & Sword is set in Ancient China and draws heavily on Chinese legend for its inspiration. In spite of this source of rich material the game manages only a feeble storyline that produces more confusion or outright ambivalence than it does inspiration for the player. Basically, China is under assault from legions of the undead. As a Shaolin warrior it is up to you to stop them by killing many creatures and retrieving magical odds and ends.
You’ll know that you are in trouble with Blade & Sword right from the start while viewing the screen that establishes the game’s background story. Note the use of the word screen. Not screens or cutscene, but screen. You are shown a single screen with one static image, and the story is established by slowly scrolling text on the bottom third of the screen. And when I say slowly, I mean slowly. The words crawl by at a pace that would seem slow to a second grader and there is no way to speed or scroll it. If you get passed the first paragraph then you have a lot of patience or a penchant for masochism. Unfortunately this is also a sign of things to come. Every single story element and character conversation features text that scrolls by at the speed of a glacier. No wonder there are no voiceovers in the entire game – they would sound like a tape of a drugged insomniac played on a cassette player with weak batteries.
Once play begins you have your choice of one of three characters. These characters fill the generic roles of strong but slow, fast but weak, and balanced. However, you’ll need to consult the manual to figure out which is which because all the game does is show you a picture of the three characters and ask you to pick one. There are no names, classes, or background stories, and there is no way to view the stats or vitals of the characters before selecting one. Blade & Sword certainly makes it hard to get into the RPG side of the Action-RPG equation when you have little idea who your character is or what is motivating him or her to go out and create mass carnage.