Blade Warrior (Image Works) Review | Amiga Power - Everygamegoing

Amiga Power

Blade Warrior
By Image Works
Amiga 500

Published in Amiga Power #5

Blade Warrior

First advertised, it seems, around a year ago,

I've been having real trouble putting this review together, I can tell you. The first version (since deleted) was absolutely euphoric - Blade Warrior is one of those games that intoxicates you with atmospheric graphics and sound, making it easy to imagine that there just has to be a corking game underneath it all.

After putting in a few hours of overtime, however, I began to have my doubts. The basic front end was okay, but the 'game' part of it - all the interaction with other characters, spells and so on - seemed a bit thin, a bit superficial. So I wrote another review to that effect.

Then I played it some more (just to make sure) and started really getting into it again. Or at least, I think I did. So I scrapped that second review too. And now, with a blank page in front of me again, well... um... to tell the truth I'm just not sure whether I like it or not. It has its strong points - the very unusual graphics style for a start - certainly, but just as it seems to be starting to grip, it doesn't. And then it does again. I know, I'll you you a bit about it while I have another think.

Quite Unlike Anything Before

One thing I do know is that it's one of those 'do the graphics and then try and work a game around them' jobs. And the graphics, it has to be said, are brilliant. They're done in an incredibly spooky silhouette style, so, rather than being packed with colour, everything's just black on a pale, pastely background. It might sound like a bit of a cop-out, but the amount of detail that's been crammed in, combined with some quite beautiful animation, a few stunning backdrops, a bit of parallax scrolling, and some really weird sound effects creates an audio-visual, um, 'experience' that's quite unlike anything I can remember seeing before.

I can also say for sure that, for the most part, the game is a scrolling beat-'em-up, shadow puppet-style. You're the 'blade warrior', and you can roam backwards and forwards across the landscape, up and down hills and over bridges, hacking away at any baddies that leap at you from the bushes. These range from weedy (but nonetheless pretty frightening) giant spiders to trolls, skeletons, vampires and lots more. Occasionally, you'll come across gateways which lead to other paths. (The paths all join up into a big map, a picture of which can be called up by pressing 'M'.) The pathways near your start position are populated with the softer baddies, but things hot up as you get further into the game, meet stronger baddies and (hopefully) become more and more powerful yourself.

Dark, Atmospheric And Hazy

From then on things get a little hazier. There's this plot, you see the world has been enslaved by the evil Murk, and you've got to free it by collecting the seven fragments of a tablet which are in the possession of seven wizards who live in seven towers. It's a bit crap, isn't it?

What it means is that co-existing rather uncomfortably with the beat-'em-up element is an adventurey one, where you've got to collect Artefacts and give them to the right wizards in exchange for bits of tablet. You can also trade other things with wizards, possibly in exchange for clues. The Artifacts are also quite handy for boosting your powers, so don't give them away until you really have to.

And then there's the magic side of things. As you wander around, you'll come across ingredients which you can take back to your towner, pop into your cauldron and cast spells with. As long as you've got the recipe, that is. You start off with two of these, and more can be obtained from wizards if you can work out how.

While this is all very well, the question is whether these two completely different types of game have been brought together successfully. After some serious playing I reckon they have - just about - although it's still not completely satisfactory. Beat-'em-up fans might consider all the spells and things to be superfluous, while those who'd prefer to concentrate on solving the puzzles may well get annoyed at constantly getting jumped by baddies.

A couple of other things to consider: there's no scoring system, so progress has to be judged on how much of the adventure you've pieced together, and there are a few little glitches, like the scrolling suddenly slowing down for no apparent reason, and spells remaining on screen after they've been used. Nothing too worrying though.

Me? I eventually decided that I was quite enjoying myself, and wouldn't mind splashing out on Blade Warrior at all. If nothing else, it has to be seen.

The Bottom Line

Uppers: Breathtaking graphics, but lots of action and puzzling too. A complete solution is likely to be a long time coming.

Downers: The gameplay is unlikely to be to everyone's taste, and interest may (may) fade along with the initial attraction.

Visually superb, possibly the most atmospheric game ever, and with the gameplay to back it up. (I think!)

Jonathan Davies

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