Posted: April 23, 2014
Do you like swords of all kinds? Do you like fighting games that don't rely on complex, redundant billion-button combos? Do you like SWORDfighting games that don't use redundant button mash combos? Do you like the idea of players making their own weapons for everyone to use, including but not limited to a Pencil? Do you like drawing hearts in the air and blowing kisses to the corpses of other people you just wrecked? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I have just the game for you: Blade Symphony. (Brief Summary at the end)
Graphics are beautiful without being too hardware-intensive. The soundtrack is high quality and fits the overall theme of the game well with its asian style instrumentals. The actual swordfighting itself is intense, and if you care about customization you can choose skins and helmets as well as weapon skins, and there is much to learn to keep you playing for a long time.
Blade Symphony is a game that is very easy to pick up. However, that doesn't mean it lacks depth; there are all sorts of attacks to utilize and techniques to memorize that allow for quite a lot of improvement in the individual skill department. You'll be going "WHOAAA, DID I JUST DO THAT?" or "HOLY SH*T THAT WAS AWESOME" often as you discover new things.
There are 5 characters each with different movesets. They all vary heavily in style; Phalanx the Fencer / Gladiator specializes in quick, calculated forward thrusts and even quicker side swipes to parry attacks with, leaving his opponent open to further punishment. Ryoku the Vagrant is a breakdancing street ninja who overwhelms his opponents with lightning fast combos and moves that allow him to maneuver around opponents while still dealing damage. Pure the Acrobatic Assassin has many flashy attacks that cover a lot of ground, throw off her opponent, and are very easy for her to combo from. Judgement the Knight / Samurai trades mobility for simple yet hard-hitting strikes that decimate his opponents in seconds. The other character, vanguard, is hard to describe, so you'll just have to see her for yourself. The 5 weapon types can be used on any character to alter their playstyle to better suit you.
Combat is a bit different than other fighting games. You press a button (#s 1-3) or scroll the mousewheel to change the stance your fighter is in, and then click to attack in that stance. Each stance has a number of boxes, called strings
that determine which move your character will use if you were to attack. Strings only affect forward attacks though, left and right attacks are always the same regardless of string. A tracer preview of the attack is shown to help you remember which string in a stance does what attack. The number of strings vary by stance and fighter; Judgement has 1 air string and 3 fast, balanced, and heavy strings. Ryoku has 2 air strings, 6 fast strings, 2 balanced strings, and a single heavy string. If your attack clashes with your opponent's attack, the strongest stance will break through. Heavy beats balanced and fast stances, balanced beats fast and air, fast beats air, and air beats heavy. The user of the weaker attack will be stunned for a brief while or until hit. This system is further complicated by tiers
. Each string can be charged by holding the attack button down for a bit to change the attack into a stronger, different move. You can half-charge an attack to make it a T2 attack or fully charge into a guard-breaking, knockdown-inducing T3 attack. If two same-stance, same tier attacks clash, both opponents are stunned for an equal amount of time. If two same-stance, different tier attacks clash, the higher tier attacker will be stunned for a shorter period of timing, allowing them to counterattack during their opponent's dazed state. If you're getting confused, don't worry: it's actually pretty simple after trying it in-game.
(Some other veterans and I have written a guide to all this and more, so if you want to understand it a bit better you can check that out in the mechanics and techniques section here
This game isn't "super hardcore MLG competetive" by default, but it is sort of competetive. There is no campaign or anything like that; fights are generally done with and against other players. If you can't stand competition, then I can't say i'd fully reccomend this game to you. The drive to get better is what will make your name known among the community. If you really want to play the game competetively though, you definitely can as there are tournaments held at random intervals.
Speaking of the community, some people say it's awful, but there are just a few bad people out there. Most of the time anyone will help you out if you just ask, and there are plenty of good players that will go out of their way to give lessons.
Now, onto the Bad.
The game has a small playerbase, so if you live in a somewhat "rarer" country (AUS and SEA regions come to mind) you may have problems finding servers close to you.
There are only 5 different official maps and 3 official game modes. However, the community has made their own maps and gamemodes to counteract this. There will be other maps and modes added in the future.
Various bugs occur every now and then, but the devs patch them in a timely manner. None of them are ever gamebreaking or anything like that.
The forums can be a little overwhelming at times, but the difference between behavior on forums and in-game is more often than not massive. Don't plan on staying in the forums too long if you prefer serious discussions, because things tend to get a bit crazy sometimes.
I may be biased as I have invested quite a bit into Blade Symphony, in terms of both time played and overall contributions. I have personally taught many players about how the game and its characters work, and have banded together with a few other veterans to make a comprehensive guide for the game. For me, the best thing about the game is the community. Almost every single regular is a person that is enjoyable to be around, and most new players aren't the type to yell "wtf this game sucks" after getting stomped by a more experienced player. The small community also gives it a "close knit, occasionally disfunctional family" feel, at least for me.
All in all, Blade Symphony has a few quirks, but that doesn't stop it from being a solid third person fighting game that is both simple and complex at the same time. It does swordfighting well (and by well I mean somewhat unrealistically for the sake of fun) and offers a fresh new take on the genre.
Accessible, Unique Gameplay with Depth
Can make your own swords and skins with workshop integration
Like all fighting-ish games, latency affects gameplay a bit more than it would in other types of games (Stay at under 100 ms for best results)
Little else to do outside of 1v1 duels and hanging around in FFA servers
Only 4 characters to play (at the moment), with 5 possible sword types to use with each character
UP FOR GRABS (Can be taken either way):
Overall, I give the game an 9/10. Will keep this review updated as time goes on.