by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
Oniblade becomes X-Blades
It is always a good sign when someone who has been working on a game for a long time can talk about it with passion and enthusiasm. Bert Jennings certainly did seem to enjoy himself still. He is responsible for localizing the arcade hack&slash title Oniblade by Russian developer Gaijin Entertainment. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, it is because the game will be released in Europe and North America under the name X-Blades. Bert, working for Topware Interactive, says that they are doing more than just translating the game. “We are updating the engine with better graphics and adding some cool new stuff as well,” Bert explained.
Before handing over the controller, Bert showed us some of the different environments that the game is rich. X-Blades finds its inspiration in Japanese Anime but adds its own unique style into the mix. The result can best be described as a blend between Gothic and Anime styles. This blend works well as the game oozes ambiance by the bucket load. No matter where you go, a warm glow from the evening sun or another light source will be greeting you upon entering the scene.
Don’t judge a book by its cover
Not that you will have much time to enjoy the scenery though. Heroine Ayumi is constantly being attacked by all sorts of monstrosities. Fortunately she is more dangerous than her cute Anime looks would have you believe. She can use her twin blades, double guns or magic spells to get rid of the beasties. Magic spells, weapon upgrades and healing can be purchased using a coinage called ‘Souls’. The easiest way to obtain Souls is by finding them as floating diamonds as you venture through one of X-Blades’ forty locations. A faster way to gather them is by defeating your enemies; a good fight can quickly turn into a veritable gold mine. You can spend Souls at any point during the game using a quick and easy to use interface so that you will not be taken out of the game for very long.
The spell system has been kept fairly simple too. There are no difficult choices to make that bog down the game. Just open the purchase screen and select what you want to have. To use magic, Ayumi first needs to be enraged. She can work up an anger out of thin air to fill up her rage meter. Once filled, the collected rage can be used to cast spells. A better way of filling up the meter is by doing battle. This is a lot quicker, allowing Ayumi to unleash her magic far more frequently. Easily the coolest spell is Earthquake. After activating this spell, time slows down while Ayumi jumps up in the air. When she comes down, the world trembles and ripples of fire move outwards to do damage and temporarily stun her foes.
Stunning foes will come in handy as the number can be quite overwhelming. Gameplay is fast and furious and you will rarely be allowed a breather. When we took over the controls, we were thrust into a boss fight that had us work up a sweat in no time. Despite the frantic action that kept us right on the edge of our seat, X-Blades was easy to control. This allowed us to concentrate on the fight rather than struggle with how to operate the game.
X-Blades uses auto targeting and the ‘cursor’ moves between foes at great speed. It is possible to turn your focus on a single enemy when the chaos becomes too great and a more systematic approach is called for. Enemies do not have health meters above them. The developers felt this clutters the screen too much. Instead, the collective health of all your enemies is shown in a single health bar at the lower-right of the screen.
Bert didn’t want to let go too much about the game’s plot but he did say that it has three different endings. Which ending you get to experience depends on your own decisions during the game. X-Blades is certainly very easy to pick up and play. Guiding Ayumi through the game, hacking and slashing your way through countless of enemies is both fun and challenging at the same time. We are looking forward to spend some more time with X-Blades. Fortunately we won’t have to wait much longer. The game will be released for PC, X360 and PS3 on November 30th.