Having originally come out way back in 2007, I missed picking up X-Blades until just recently went I decided to take Utomik for another spin over my Christmas holidays. Very quick movement speeds mixed in with some fast hack & slash bladework, I was left wanting a bit more substance as nothing you hit actually felt like it got hit unless it was with a fireball to the face.
The story behind X-Blades is pretty simple but like the Tomb Raider and Uncharted series, it works well. Taking control of the treasure hunter Ayumi, you in the opening cinematic find a map that will lead you to some incredible and long lost treasure. Once you hit start, you move towards the actual treasure and the first boss who specifically told you NOT to touch the artefact hidden away as it will destroy humans. Touching it anyways, things go from “normal” crazy to some otherworldly crazy making you quite happy that you have magic to go with the guns and the blades that Ayumi wields.
Gameplay and Combat
X-Blades is right up one of my favorite alleys alongside Capcom’s Devil May Cry series and Onechanbara. Loads of enemies, rewards to keeping the combo counter up while laying the smackdown on hordes of enemies, it doesn’t get much better than that. When it works. A bit like the more recent Devil’s Hunt that I covered shortly before the end of the year, X-Blades lacks the oomph factor. Hitting enemies is shown by your swords moving through them or them being riddled with bullets but the actual “hit”? It didn’t feel like it did much as often enemies would simply keep coming at you and swarming you while reducing your health bar.
Where things actually felt like they had an impact were the spells which were large, flashy, and actually packed a punch that you could see and often helped you out of being swarmed. Right alongside Ayumi’s two swords and her guns, several spells can be equipped at once and the only thing that you need in order to use them is “rage” that can be accumulated by either hitting enemies or destroying red crystals that gives you a full gauge. New spells can be learnt by spending points that are accumulated by defeating enemies or picking up items on the ground so don’t hold back, you’ll need those new toys! Because other than that? You’ll be quickly running through each environment into a new one to do the same thing all over again.
There’s no real exploration to X-Blades which I found a bit disappointing. It really is just an on rails, no side rooms, beat ‘em up hack & slash. And normally I would be all for it except that it felt so bland, and because of that, I was left wanting more. There’s truly nothing wrong with a title that does only one thing, but it has to do that one thing well, and sadly, this really wasn’t the case here.
If there had to be a shining point, this would be it. The music from the main menu into the stages was just turned up and worth listening to even on its own. In all seriousness, X-Blades could easily land in our Memorable Music category as the tracks are basically a series of high octane scores that only accentuate the fast paced nature of the title.