I've been following the the game X-Blades ever since it was the Russian hack and slash title Oniblade, and not just for the adorable, barely-dressed anime-girl protagonist Ayumi. I was enthralled by...okay, I'm completely lying here. It was all about Ayumi, with her flowing blonde hair and her long legs that go all the way up to her oversized head. With the amount of information I had, she pretty much was the game as far as I was concerned. Well I finally got my hands on
her X-Blades at the Games Convention and Leipzig in order to see if there was any substance behind all that style.
Before I got my turn playing the game, the TopWare Interactive rep manning the booth explained to me that X-Blades had added story and RPG elements to the original game, but the hands on time I spent was all about the action. After waiting what seemed like an eternity the guy before me finished playing, cleaned up his area, and left me to my own devices.
My device of choice was the Xbox 360 controller, hooked up to the PC version of the game. I started off in a rather nondescript rocky corridor without any sort of explanation, so I went with instinct and began killing everything in sight.
The game essentially plays like a poor man's Devil May Cry. You've got your blades for close combat, your gun for taking out those annoying bastards who materialise in the air 10 feet above you, and a few spells at your disposal to keep things interesting.
I was a bit disappointed, really. Though Ayumi is animated quite well the action fell a bit flat, with no real sense of impact. Rather than feeling like I was taking down hordes of enemies, I felt as if I was swinging my weapons and there just happened to be relatively insubstantial monsters nearby. What's worse, the game follows the old formula of running into a room, room seals, kill monsters, room unseals. Seems a bit primitive in this day and age. Block the path with debris that the last dying monster smashes free, or go the Gauntlet route and make the enemies the wall...just don't fall back on the old mystical forces path-blocking mechanic.
Ayumi still looks lovely, as do the environments she is running through and the foes she disperses (to a lesser degree), but I just didn't quite get the feeling she was actually there, carving her way through the armies of darkness. The style is definitely there, but the substance is a bit lacking. Damn anime women, always messing with my emotions.