With characters painted in calligraphic strokes and combat filled with splashes of ink, Bladed Fury’s watercolor-painting art style immediately drew me in.
Bladed Fury is an action-adventure game, the third title from Tencent's NEXT Studios to be published on Steam.
The game follows the story of an exiled Chinese princess in the Warring States period who sets out to uncover the truth after she was framed for killing her father. During her journey, she battles an array of deities and monsters, with some turning into allies later in the game.
To be honest, that almost makes the story sound better than it is. It's bland, and I gave up caring about it after just 20 minutes. What saves it is the game's exquisite art, which brings a proper historical and mythological feel to things.
That graphical wrapping also disguises a game that is fairly standard and formulaic. It's a hack-n-slack game, with a bit of platforming and occasional puzzle-solving. It's decent enough fun, but there's nothing especially unique about the gameplay.
Still, combat is simple and intuitive; I can chain combos together pretty smoothly. Your character also has three weapons, with special attacks that can be unlocked with points gained from defeating enemies.
Said to be inspired by Muramasa: The Demon Blade, Bladed Fury ends up feeling quite similar to its apparent muse in terms of both art style and gameplay.
But that Japanese influence is both a blessing and a curse. On the bright side, it brings a strong sense of style to the game. On the other hand, it makes this Chinese game with a Chinese story feel too Japanese -- almost to the point of appropriation. There are moments in the game where it feels like they've just pasted Chinese characters over a story about Japan in the Sengoku period.
It wouldn't be the first game about Chinese history to adopt a Japanese look: NetEase’s Phantoms in the City of Tang also stirred up debates on this topic earlier last year.
Still, despite the cultural clash, it's hard to deny that it makes for a beautiful looking game.
Bladed Fury isn't terribly challenging. It took me about four hours to beat, and I cruised through it pretty easily -- though the platforming does require a bit of precision.
Ultimately, it's pretty easy to recommend when you consider the price: Just US$9.99 at time of writing. Bladed Fury is easy to play and looks gorgeous. It may not break new ground, but it's definitely worth your time.