Release date: July 16th, 2021
Developer: Ametist Studio
Publishers: Ametist Studio, Ratalaika Games
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Xbox Series X and Series S, PlayStation 5, Xbox One
Genres: Platform game, Indie game, Fighting game
"Review Copy Provided by ININ Games"
One would think that the 2D pixel art style of gaming would’ve faded away with how 3D gaming has been dominating the scene over the last near 30 years and yet both major game studios and indie studios do their best to make sure we know that this style isn’t going anywhere. Originally released in 2019, Within The Blade arrives on consoles bringing with it a new twist on the stealth-action 2D genre with you not only being able to hack and slash your way through levels but also utilize stealth in order to utilize assassination methods. Does the experimental gameplay of Within The Blade stand up to the task of being a must have or does it fall on it’s own blade committing unintentional seppuku? Let’s find out!
Seeking the fall of the Steel Claw, Hideaki of the Black Lotus Clan must stop at nothing to put an end to the evil summoned by the Steel Claw.
Ok so there isn’t much to talk about here in the way of story even though there are a good amount of cutscenes setting up and exploring the plot, however, I do not want to go into too much detail and give away too much of the story.
You have a lot of abilities such as wall jumps, double jumps, wall climb, blocking, and sword combos and more. The game has a good amount of platforming for you to be able to get to newer heights and be able to complete your objectives. You may think to yourself that this sounds like a typical old school ninja action game, but you would be very wrong as the biggest aspect of this game is the use of stealth and the assassination system.
The general gameplay is similar to a Metroid-Vania with you needing to gather keys to open up various areas in a castle environment while other areas are level based and are linear. The stealth emphasis reminds me of Dishonered in the sense of how if you get discovered then you can fight your way out of situations if you so choose or try and hide again.
There is a durability feature when it comes to your weapons such as your swords breaking which makes me think of the durability in Breath of the Wild. The game also has numerous RPG like elements with you by being able to focus on your fighting styles, traversal abilities, elemental resistances buffs, or more health points. There’s also crafting too with you being able to craft items and weapons.
Graphically, this game to me looks like it could run on the Sega Master System or the NES as it has a very simplistic style to it, however, once you see it in motion then you’ll more so see this being a game that would be running on the Turbo Grafix-16 or the SNES or Sega Genesis due to how much fluidity there is in the motion and the attention to detail with the backgrounds scrolling.
It won’t wow people with its looks but for us retro gamers it’ll be appreciated greatly for it’s aesthetics.
There are three things that I will say that are issues with this game and the first one I will start off with is the fact that the controls don’t always feel as responsive as they should especially when it comes to combat. There are times when you’re in the middle of a combo and out of nowhere you will end up missing an attack because the point of contact has to be pixel perfect otherwise the hits don’t register.
Secondly will be the lack of understanding specifically what it is you’re supposed to do. Say for instance the game’s results screen gives you points for clearing a level quickly; it will also penalize you if you are ever spotted and even sometimes if you decide to fight even if you don’t take damage.
Lastly, the translation is at times laughable bad with so many grammatical and punctuation errors especially in the tutorial where it will tell you that to dash you will need to double tap left or right when it’s the shoulder buttons.
These issues can be fixed with a patch and hopefully they are.
Within The Blade is a ninja game with promise that just misses the mark due to its translation errors, the controllers not being as responsive as it could be, and the lack of understanding what you need to do for the best scores at the results screen. While there are a number of ninja games available on modern consoles, if I had to pick between this and something like Cyber Shadow then I’d recommend you go with Cyber Shadow hands down.