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Blades of Time review for Nintendo Switch


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Publisher: Gaijin Distribution
Developer: Gaijin Distribution
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes
ESRB: M

This is going to sound insane, but my all-time biggest gaming regret is that I played Blades of Time back when it first came out on PS3, made it all the way to the final boss, then gave up on it after spending at least an hour trying — and failing — to finish the game. This is not hyperbole. I’ve never played a Final Fantasy game, I don’t think I’ve finished a Mario game in years, yet, for whatever reason, the fact I gave up on the final boss of a middling-at-best mid-tier game from nearly a decade ago is what really bothers me when it comes to gaming.

So, from that perspective, I’m kind of glad to see the game get a completely random re-release on the Switch.

From the perspective of Blades of Time being a game that wasn’t even very good when it first came out on a last gen system back in 2012, and that has aged about as well as you’d expect…this game probably could have stayed in the past, and no one would have been any the worse for it.

This is particularly true when you consider how terribly the game performs on the Switch. I wouldn’t call it full-on glitchy, per se, but it definitely stutters pretty regularly. You wouldn’t think that a last-gen game would have so much trouble performing on more powerful hardware — but as it shows time and time again here, that’s not the case.

Take, for example, the game’s environments. Everything here looks cheap and muddy. If you were to hold an image in your mind of a bargain basement PS360 action game set in ruins and jungles, it’d look pretty much like this. In fact, it’s probably not a stretch to say that that’s being generous, and Blades of Time almost passes for a barely-improved PS2 or PSP game

The bad performance is even more noticeable when it comes to the combat. In theory, you can see the game is going for a Devil May Cry kind of deal, mixing together gunplay with swords. In practice, however, the stuttering makes it hard to chain together the kind of combos the game wants you to be able to achieve.

Of course, some of the combat’s problems have nothing to do with shuddering performance. Like, even if the game performed well, it’d still be kind of weird to make your two main attacks triggered by the Y and A buttons. Maybe I’m just too used to mashing the square and triangle buttons on PlayStation controllers, but it feels wrong to use those two buttons. Similarly, it’s just plain awkward to have to push your right thumbstick in to use your gun, and then use the right and left shoulder buttons to slowly aim and shoot. It takes you completely out of the flow of the game, and it feels at odds with what the game is going for.

Similarly, you can’t blame bad performance for the lousy voice acting. Main character Ayumi is inexplicably British, and she sounds like a bargain basement version of Lara Croft — though in the voice actor’s defense, the dialogue is horrendous enough that not even the greatest actor in the world would be able to make it sound decent.

You also can’t blame bad performance for the fact that Ayumi is dressed in…I don’t know, calling it “boob armour” seems generous. She’s basically wearing a few leather straps and some strategically-placed pieces of cloth. I remember it being described as cringeworthy when Blades of Time was first released in 2012, so words fail me when trying to think of how stupid it looks by today’s standards.

In all fairness, I will point out that the game has one cool idea: you can manipulate time, allowing you to solve puzzles, escape death, or team up with yourself to take out some of the harder enemies. As you can probably guess by now, the execution leaves quite a bit to be desired thanks to shoddy performance, but, at the very least, it shows that the game isn’t entirely worthless.

It comes awfully close, though. While I appreciate the opportunity to go back and right the gaming wrong from my past, there’s literally zero reason why anyone else should want to play Blades of Time today. It was a mediocre game when it first came out seven years ago, and if anything, the benefit of time has made the “mediocre” assessment seem generous.

Gaijin Distribution provided us with a Blades of Time Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: D+