All Features


  PlayStation 3
  PlayStation 4
  Wii U
  Xbox 360
  Xbox One


Blade of Darkness

Score: 80%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: Rebel Act Software
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 8
Genre: Miscellaneous/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Blade of Darkness both excels and fails in the graphics department. The locations in the game are generally quite breathtaking -- the textures are detailed and the areas lovingly crafted. Complementing the architecture in the game is a wonderful lighting engine, which casts realistic shadows that will make you smile with glee. Everything looks right when the light shines, and it's a real improvement over your standard 3D engine.

However . . . the environments are decidedly too repetitive. It's easy to get lost in the game, because many times the buildings that you're going between (or caves, or whatever) just look too similar to each other. It seems as if the developers made some wonderful structures, and then just copy-and-pasted them over and over to make a world. It's rather off-putting, to say the least.

Similarly, while the weapons and shields and whatnot are wonderfully detailed (and there are tons of them!), the actual animations in the game are too jumpy. The cutscenes are nice, though, even if they don't make a whole lot of sense.

The sound in the game follows the 'ambient' school of thought, where most of what you hear is either environmental sounds or the occasional spooky melody. For the most part, though, the game is quite quiet. Once you get into a fight, you'll hear a lot of realistic clangs and clashes, as weapons hit. The weapons sound differently depending on both what they're made of and what they're hitting, making for a nice treat. It won't blow you away, but it'll certainly put a smile on your face in a big fight.


The controls may not, though. Blade of Darkness follows in the hack-and-slash vein of Rune or the venerable Die By The Sword, and while it's entertaining, its has its own share of problems that can take away from the fun.

At the start of the game, you pick one of four warriors to play as. There's the hulking barbarian who is the master of two-handed weapons, a chivalrous knight as the sword-swinger of the bunch, a stocky dwarf playing the part of the axeman, and a lithe amazon who wails on enemies with spears. All of the characters can use bows as well, although finding them can be something of a challenge.

There's a storyline somewhere, but it's never really given much of a treatment. The real point of the game is mindless hacking-and-slashing, along with the occasional switch-flipping and button-pushing. It's nothing you haven't seen before, to be honest, and while it presents some nice things, it's been done before better.

For example, there are a whole lot of weapons that you can use in Blade of Darkness, ranging from clubs and swords to massive bludgeoning tools. Your character gains levels as they fight, and along with the requisite boost in health, offensive power and defensive power, they gain new abilities to fight with. Indeed, you learn combos as you play, which can be used to great effect against your enemies. Weapons that are slow and unwieldy at the beginning of the game become trivial to use as it progresses.

But the combat system leaves something to be desired. You have to 'lock on' to an opponent before you can start to strafe around them, making battles with more than one enemy an exercise in frustration. Proper timing is essential if you want to cause enough damage to defeat your opponent, but getting the timing right is often an exercise in futility. Combos that worked before won't any more, depending on the mood of the game. It's more than a little frustrating.

Of course, when you pull off a head-removing slice, or dismember an opponent, there's a certain amount of charm that you cannot deny. And watching the surprisingly realistic physics engine simulate a sword spinning, or a shield coming to rest, is decidedly impressive. One just wishes that it would be simpler to get there and see those effects.

And as a game whose main purpose is combat, Blade of Darkness could definitely use some fine-tuning in that department.


Blade of Darkness starts off a little rough, and it only gets rougher as the game progresses. Multiple enemies, bad positions, and weak weapons will all challenge you to do the best that you can as you play, and perhaps even more. The levels are sprawling and complex, and having an internal compass is essential if you don't want to wander around lost for ages. Proper character choices are essential as well -- up close and personal fighting is best suited for those who use short-ranged weapons. The enemy AI is at times smart and at times amazingly dumb. Getting the enemy into an open area is a key to beating the tar out of them, as they don't circle as much as they should.

Game Mechanics:

The basic controls of the game are quite complex, and it will take some time before you get used to the various buttons that you have to be able to use at a moment's notice. The combat engine, while interesting, is also frustrating, especially in multi-enemy situations. The menus are sparse, but certainly manageable.

NOTE: Blade of Darkness has some troubles with installing. It may install links that point nowhere, or at least certainly not to the game. Be forewarned -- the installer is definitely nowhere near as polished as it should have been.

Blade of Darkness doesn't offer much of anything new to gaming, but it's sure to satisfy those people who love to hack things apart and watch the limbs fly. It is pretty, with some detailed weapons, but ultimately a rather shallow game experience. Fans of the genre should definitely check it out, whereas those who are only casually interested may want to pass.

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:

P2 400, 64MB RAM, 8MB 3D card, 8x CD-ROM, 750MB HD Space, sound card, keyboard

Test System:

Athlon 1.1GHz running Win98 SE, 512MB RAM, GeForce 2 GTS w/ 32MB RAM, SoundBlaster Live!, 8x DVD-ROM

Windows Black & White Windows Capitalism II

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated