I’ve been playing videogames since the mid 90’s which may not sound like much but that was more than 20 years ago. And one thing that I’ve discovered from replaying old games from those times is that we have to be wary about nostalgia. Even games that are considered to be masterpieces back in the day may have some big design flaws that a game nowadays days wouldn’t get away with. Take Castlevania: Symphony of the night as an example.People think that the loading after a death in Bloodborne was frustrating? Every time you died in Castlevania:SOTN you were forced into a lengthy animated game over screen, then you had to go to the main menu and load your last saved game having to bear obviously all of the necessary load times so characteristic of the ps1 era. Talk about frustrating.
The point I’m trying to make isn’t that Castlevania isn’t a good game, god forbids. I’m just saying that games back in the day may not be as good as we remembered them to be because back in the day we had lower expectations and we were able to put up with certain flaws because we didn’t knew any better (literally).
Why am I bringing all of these points in a review of a 2015 game? You’ll understand after you read my impressions.
AeternoBlade is a 2.5D action platformer with a big dose of exploration. It pretty much fits in the subgenre of games usually referred to as “Metroidvanias”. In AeternoBlade you take the role of warrior called Freyja as she tries to take revenge on an evil lord from destroying her village. For doing so she needs the help of a sword that grants its user the ability to alter time.
The premise alone may seem a little cliche and, if you played some other fantasy-inspired japanese videogames, you’ll also be able to figure out all of the twists and turns the plot will throw at you as well. It is not a bad story, but it’s certainly not very original.
The gameplay portion is also the typical metroidvania but instead of being given one big cohesive world you could explore to your hearts content, the game is divided in stages and in each one you’re given one different level. They’re not as linear as in a regular action platformer but they’re not as complex as in other games of the genre but, that also mean less backtracking so it’s not bad.
The game focuses on sword combat and even though you never change weapon, you can learn different combos as you upgrade your character and use time manipulation to aid you in combat as well. Apart from purchasing new movements, you can also upgrade the stats of your character and the game implements a system in which by equipping different gems you’ll be able to get certain advantages like a boost in health or having a higher chance of finding more of those gems.
That time manipulation mechanic also plays a role when facing some puzzles the game throws at you.
I played the vita version of this game and, performance-wise it doesn’t run badly. The loadtimes between each “room” in the game are short enough but they’re so often that it kinda ruins any flow the game could get.
On the sound department I should say that the soundtrack is fitting but the sounds effects used for the enemies, the attacks and such feel pretty cheap.
Things I liked
- Time manipulation: Even though the game does a poor job at explaining how each time manipulation ability works, they do utilize some of that time manipulation mechanics in an interesting way. Not as mind-bending as Braid, but still pretty neat.
- Retro flavour: For a number of reasons (good and bad) AeternoBlade reminded me of the ps1 era. I was a kid back then so I guess it’s kind of nice to be evoked of those times.
Things I didn’t
- Stiff controls: This is more of a problem with the animations than with the controls itself but in any case, it makes the feedback from the controls feel awkward and unsatisfying. The fighting feels clunky and the jumping unreliable. The experience gets better after the first stages as you’ll start to get used to it but it’s just not good.
- Ugly: In each and every sense of the word. The game looks like what an upscaled PS1 game would look like. Texturing is poor and the enviroments are very low on polygons but it’s not just a problem with the technical aspect of the graphics. The designs of the enemies go from uninspired to straight up hideous. Even on the pre-rendered cgi videos they use, and some portraits the use for the dialog cutscenes… I’m not joking if I say that there was better cgi in Final Fantasy VIII.
- Overall quality: The game causes an awful first impression and even though you may start to forget about it as you get more into the gaming experience, every so often something else will come out to remind you that you’re not playing a very good game. Some glitches, the constant loadtimes, unskippable cutscenes, maybe some poorly translated line of dialog…
Who’d like this?
During my playthrough of this game I had moments when I was having fun and other moments when I felt frustrated but never during my time with the game I had the sensation that I was playing a good game, at least, for today’s standards. This game back in 1996 could have been a 7/10 game (at best) but nowadays I don’t feel like it’s worth playing. Do yourself a favor and get Guacamelee instead or, if you’re in for some trip through nostalgia lane, play an actual classic like Symphony of the night.
<This is a review on the PS Vita version of the game but AeternoBlade is also available on PS4 and other platforms> <The game is compatible with Playstation TV>