I know this isn't technically an indie game but it was in a bundle so that is good enough, right? Anyway, X-Blades is an action adventure game in which you take control of a scantily clad anime-esc character called Ayumi. And I am not even joking she is essentially naked and all you see for the majority of the game is her arse in the middle of the screen as you hit enemies, run around and well mostly just hit some enemies.
I had hoped that X-Blades would actually be one of those games that had gotten bad reviews but much like Ninja Blade was actually some fun to play. I was horribly wrong... X-Blades is a fairly stale adventure in which you simply press the hit button till things are dead or if that doesn't work then you use some fairly overpowered, as in kill everything around you instantly, magic. One such magical ability you gain in the first few moments of the game his Ayumi smashes the ground thusly killing everything in a fairly hefty radius around her. So one reliable strategy throughout the game is to charge up you bar by just getting hit a few times or hit something once or twice then just punch the floor till everything is dead. Not the most exuberant of strategies I will give you but X-Blades doesn't give you much choice since it insists on throwing wave after wave of enemies at you. And wait if you are thinking that you can just skip a battle and progress to the next area well now you would be sadly mistaken because until you have routed out every last little critter and nefarious goon you cannot move from where you currently are. Sigh...
The story as far as I could grasp was that Ayumi wanted this artefact. So she went to get it. A cat man told her not to touch it. She did and it went all black and gloopy and she gains glowy eyes and super powers. This goo is really a curse that makes the 'light' want to kill her so she has to find a way to break it. There are 2 endings - 1 good and 1 bad. This is dependent on the skills you take during the game. If you take dark skills you get the bad and light for good. To be honest past hitting things the story takes a back seat since it is quite unclear why a lot of this is happening.
One good thing I will say is that the music however repetitive and annoying fits well with the fight scenes and to be honest is one of the few decent parts of the game. Another area that isn't too terrible is the upgrades. There are numerous magic abilities and basic ability upgrades to unlock and collect. Not that the game makes them all that fun to find since you almost constantly pursued by an enemy of some kind.
The combat is an area where this game should shine. It has all the right components. Lots of enemies, magic abilities, guns, swords, somebody to use these things. However, it gets it all wrong. You only have the same combo of hit hit hit or shoot shoot shoot and even then there is no feedback so you don't even really know if your hard effort of pressing a button is even working. To add even further insult to injury you actually have to stop shooting to use your magic or hit something. It is all just very clunky and annoying to play.
Personally I was thoroughly disappointed with this game. I know it got pretty terrible reviews and so I shouldn't have expect much else but there are a number of games that I have enjoyed that have also not gotten great reviews, Ninja Blade for one. Overall this game needed to really pull through on the combat to make it work since beyond hitting things it pretty two dimensional. A real shame really because with its wacky 'light' 'dark' motif it could have been a hit. Ah well. Maybe Ayumi just needed to actually get dressed in the morning and that would have helped a little.
General InformationGame Name: X-Blades
Genre: Action, Adventure, Hack n' Slash
Developer: Gaijin Entertainment
Release date: February 20, 2009
Bundle: Groupees Be Mine 5
OS: Windows XP SP 2/Vista
Processor: Pentium 4 @ 1.5 GHz or Equivalent
Memory: 256 MB RAM
Graphics: 128 MB (ATI Radeon/nVidia GeForce 6600)
Hard Drive: 5 GB Free