Let Your Blade Shine On
HIGH A mostly solid, deep combat system.
LOW Repetitive enemies and level design.
WTF Punching a goblin to death with another goblin’s arm.
It seems 2021 is the year of third-person remasters from the early ’00s. I played Shadowman, and now we get another do-over with Blade of Darkness, originally developed by Rebel Act Studios in 2001. However, I’m not sure this one has actually earned the “cult classic” recognition to warrant a reissue.
Also known as Severance, this is a take on a Conan the Barbarian-style hack-‘n-slash — pick one of four characters and fight through caves, fortresses and dungeons. There’s not much narrative here. As one might guess, there’s a great evil in the land that must be vanquished, and a great sword that must be recovered.
The combat mechanics do require a bit of thought, as this is not a combat title of the ‘kill everyone’ variety. Most encounters will be against only one or two enemies at a time, requiring the use of shields and circle-strafing to avoid an untimely end. It also features dismemberment and gore galore, with the possibility of using severed enemy limbs as weapons.
To break up the monotony of combat, there are simple puzzles like ‘find the lever to open the door’ and so on. Nothing too taxing, for sure. There are also minimal RPG elements, like leveling a character up to become stronger, gaining the ability to wield different and larger weapons, and so on, but there’s not much more to it than that.
As far as its status as an update goes, this is a fairly conservative remaster. So conservative, in fact, that a fan-made graphical patch I’ve seen looks far more attractive. In this package, players can expect 16:9 compatibility, new resolutions and… not much else. honestly, it feels like a missed opportunity since fan-made content that goes beyond what’s here has been available for several years.
Twenty years later, Blade of Darkness offers a fine-enough retro-style action experience. The combat system and gory decapitations will be of interest to fans of the genre, but one’s enjoyment will ultimately depend on nostalgia, or perhaps one’s tolerance for repetitive, clunky combat from 2001.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Fire Falcom and published by SNEG. It is currently available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on PC. Approximately 5 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: The game is not rated by the ESRB, but it contains blood and extreme violence. Because of the gory content, I would recommend it to an adult audience.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game features subtitles for all dialogue, some enemies announce their presence via audio cues, which is not subtitled. Text cannot be altered or resized. In my view, the game is not fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: The game is controlled via the keyboard to move the character around, plus mouse (to move the camera around and attack with the left and right buttons), it is possible to remap the controls.