Blade Strangers Review: This Group's Worth Befriending
I love it when a fighting game is able to bring together a group of unlikely game stars, some of [...]
I love it when a fighting game is able to bring together a group of unlikely game stars, some of whom you probably wouldn't imagine showing up in a game of its type. And Blade Strangers does just that, with a cast divided into half original characters and half gaming heroes from the likes of Code of Princess, The Binding of Isaac (yep) and Shovel Knight. That's right, you can have a damned child fighting against a buff dude in armor with a shovel. What a world.
But Blade Strangers is more than its cast of characters. The team at Nicalis, alongside the developers at Studio Zalzensen, went out of their way to make the game accessible to all sort of players. Sure, the hardcore will be able to put together chain combos that would put people on social media in awe. But the game is just as easy to play for the rookies, as they can learn a thing or two in tutorials, putting them to good use within a number of matches. Considering that some games just don't have that level of outreach, it's a welcome sight.
Most of that is due to the balanced fighting system applied here. Blade Strangers works really well when it comes to executing not only combos, but also special moves, counters and even super techniques, which can shred an enemy depending how much it's been leveled up. Some of them are a blast to pull off too, like Shovel Knight blaring a horn enough to send someone flying, opening them up to a mid-air combo as a result.
Some Good Content, Though Short On Story
Not only that, but Blade Strangers also has a fully loaded array of modes to choose from, even though some of them are a little on the empty side. The Arcade mode is the best way to go when it comes to practicing against opponents, and there's a lot of versus stuff to go around as well.
The only thing is that the Story mode just doesn't get wacky enough. It follows a more general storyline instead of catering to each of the characters you can play with. Sure, some of the interactions are different, but the showdown is the same instead of putting someone up against a destined warrior -- like the Isaac/Shovel Knight encounter I suggested. I would've liked this mode to have gone a little further.
Also, would it have hurt to throw in more characters? More original faces, or maybe even Commander Video from Runner3 (also a Nicalis release)? That said, the folks included here are diverse and entertaining enough to get by on...but this is a game that could use some DLC TLC.prevnext
Good For Rookies and Fanatics Alike
At least the other modes work quite well, and it won't take long for you to get into a good match-up either locally with friends or online. I just wish that, with some of the modes, you could turn off the notice at the bottom of the screen saying that you could activate standby at any time. It's a bit annoying.
Also, if you're a fighting expert, the Online Ranked mode will more than likely be for you, as you can go up against some players with true expertise. It's a nice thing to have if you feel the game's combat style is too easy to grasp. (We like it the way it is, but to each their own.)
Blade Strangers also benefits from a fun presentation style. While the renders aren't exactly high-definition (you can see some sprites being a little fuzzy), they're beautifully animated, especially with characters like Code of Princess heroine Solange and Curly Brace from Cave Story. The backgrounds look great, too, providing a level of depth that does well in games like these. It's not nearly as varied as, say, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, but it's still pleasing.prevnext
Get To Know These Strangers
The music definitely goes for that BlazBlue style tone with rock selections, but it's not too shabby. And the voice effects are fun as well. Who knew that Shovel Knight would sound just as heroic as Ryu Hayabusa from the Dead Or Alive series? (Then again, he's got the buffness to back it up...so we might take that back.)
While the Switch doesn't have a shortage of great 2D fighting games -- BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle immediately comes to mind, and we've got tons of classics like Samurai Shodown and Garou: Mark of the Wolves -- Blade Strangers is an ideal choice for your collection. It's priced pretty fairly at $40 and comes with a bevy of content, even with its somewhat small-numbered cast. It's got personality to spare, as well as accessibility when it comes to fighting against others, online and off. It's a game that's sure to become a quirky favorite amongst the fighting community, as it should be.
Now if we could just get a sequel with a buffed up version of Specter Knight to go up against Commander Video. Maybe someday.
WWG's Score: 4 out of 5
(Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.)prev