One problem with portable consoles is the idea everyone wants to make a portable version of their game. This works great for a game like Disgaea, but it has gotten to the point where it’s less of a matter of if and more a question of when. This is especially true for games that underperformed, as it gives them a second chance at finding success. Most of what I said holds true for Blades of Time, the ill-fated spiritual successor of X-Blades, so will Switch be its saving grace or the final nail in the coffin?
Blades of Time does a good job of introducing misdirection. What starts as a simple quest to retrieve a special orb from a mysterious cult that opens the path to a place known as Dragon Land, where an even greater treasure exists; quickly becomes one about saving the location from two warring factions.
Where things start to go wrong is, the exposition sections are long and the story is simple to the point where you’ll quickly understand where it’s going. In some ways it’s comforting knowing it’s moving to the inevitable conclusion, something I listed as a positive back when I reviewed it the first time, but a lot has changed in the past seven years. But, one thing that has not, is the quality of this adventure.
With a largely linear world, one that has less surprises than a box of Funko Mystery Minis with multiple 1:6 figures, players need to either figure things our or consult a stolen compass that points to treasure. While it will point players in the right direction, it requires an input to use and a bit of problem solving to figure out what exactly it’s trying to say. It’s a mechanic that was annoying then and just as annoying now.
Much of this has to do with it pointing in a direction, not elevation. There might be a treasure north of your location but it requires you to go down a path in the east, which goes down to a special room where it’s located. Best of all, a number of things are fairly easy to miss, meaning you and that compass need to either become good friends or give up the hunt.
Combat remains as dated and cumbersome as it was on the PlayStation 3. Most attacks have a single combo, one that does not allow for mixing and matching attacks. Naturally, this leads to a bland playstyle, one where you can shoot or kick but you can’t follow up a shot with a kick. That being said, Blades of Time tries to make the most of the time elements.
Rewinding time will have copies do whatever you did the first time, with the ability to repeat this multiple times for increased damage. To prevent this from being too easy, there are enemies that can only be damaged by copies and mechanics that build on the idea. It isn’t enough to do something, you need to do multiple things and have several versions of yourself complete them to come out ahead. It’s tedious, repetitive and outright annoying to do. It wouldn’t even be a problem if there was more holding this adventure up than story and even that is dubious at best.
One of the bigger concerns with the Switch version is performance. There is nothing wrong with porting games, even if they weren’t great to begin with, yet a lot of the issues are still present. Lip sync is still among the worst I’ve seen, frames are dropped and it just isn’t as fluid as a title like this should be.
Blades of Time feels less like a loving remaster that we can now take on the go and more like a last chance at redemption. With frustrating elements, dated idea and less depth than a current Dynasty Warrior title, it’s hard to understand who this remaster is for. Perhaps you want to see just how bad a game can be or experience one of the lowest rated games last generation but that doesn’t really change the outcome. It was an okay game then, one where time is its biggest enemy and has aged extremely poorly.
[Editor’s Note: Blades of Time was reviewed on Switch platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]