Video Game X-Blades (PC) (2009)

X-Blades (PC) (2009)

Overview: An arena, hack-and-slash, action-adventure game. Play as a treasure hunter named Ayumi and defeat enemies using a pair of gunblades (melee/ranged attacks) and spells.

Don't stare at the sun too long, Ayumi!
Relevant Links:
X-Blades (Wikipedia.org)
X-Blades (PC) (MetaCritic.com)
X-Blades (Steam Store Page)

20121016: [20160119]
I played a little bit of this game today and stopped in the middle of The Abandoned Coast (the area after The Ruins I and The Sun Temple. While it was a long time ago, I vaguely remember having a massive headache (that happened to me a lot when playing games with a mouse-controlled camera back then).

Steam: 27 minutes

Building rage for a fireball. Enemy straight ahead!
20160119 22:00PST:
I considered playing Blades of Time today, but because Blades of Time is the spiritual successor to X-Blades, I instead decided to first play this game.

Setup: Resolution: 2560x1440. Graphics quality: Max. Antialiasing: 2x. Anistropy: 16x. Texture quality: high. HDR: check. Auto-exposure: check. Bump: check. Speaker type: Stereo 5.1. Controls: Steam Controller*
*Still looking to play around with the Steam Controller, I decide to play X-Blades using the keyboard and mouse configuration.

Getting into the Game:
The game starts out with a cut scene which I mostly like for its action, but the audio was a bit underwhelming: the protagonist makes a couple of non-verbal sounds ('hmm,' 'ahh,' 'hyah', etc.) as she defends herself from some mysterious creature.

Purchase spells from the game menu.
It was, however, to my surprise that the next scene was fully narrated (by the protagonist). Furthermore, the narration was solid, though I have a fairly low bar when it comes to narration.

As for gameplay, X-Blades implements an auto-target system and incorporates melee, ranged, and special attacks.

While the game explained that magic attacks require rage obtained from attacking enemies, it seems that Ayumi can also gather rage from her surroundings.

In any case, I managed to complete The Abandoned Coast this time around and I also completed The Stone Circle. While the Giant Galapagos wasn't so hard to defeat after I figured out what to do,* the homing on its fireball was annoying.

Ayumi uses 'Earthquake,' damaging enemies in a region close to her.
Because I had a slight headache towards the end, I decided to stop playing after I completed The Stone Circle. Perhaps I move the camera too much or the camera moves too quickly.

*Attack Pangolin Soldiers to build rage bar, use an Earthquake to push them off, move away from the mob and towards the Giant Galapagos, jump for priority targeting on and throw a fireball; rinse and repeat. Some variations are occasionally necessary, but that's the idea.

Steam: 75 minutes (102 minutes total game time)

Thoughts:
Pros:
+ Beautiful graphics/environment
+ Cute protagonist

Neutral:
~ Lots of skills/abilities to purchase, but maybe too many. Perhaps they should be unlocked at a slower rate and/or ordered by cost.

The cut scenes use a cel-shaded animation style.
Cons:
- Repetitive: fighting enemies can begin to feel boring
- Repetitive: boring level design

Comparison:
The only game that I can recall playing with a similar style (hack-and-slash, third-person, action-adventure game) as X-Blades is Soulcalibur Legends (Wii) (2007). I don't, however, have much recollection of it except a feeling of disappointment.

Actually, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2003) has hack-and-slash elements and provides a good baseline as to what I consider a fun and enjoyable hack-and-slash experience. Enemies stay reasonably spread out and there's a good variety of interaction between the Prince and the enemies.

Ayumi stands on a fallen pillar looking out into the ocean.
In contrast, there were several moments in X-Blades that just felt stupid. For example, a group of enemies continually surrounded me and since Ayumi's melee attack lacks a good knockback, I would strike each of them in a clockwise fashion until I built enough rage to use a special attack ('Earthquake'). This doesn't feel rewarding, it feels dumb.

Recommendation:
Overall, I don't have enough experience with this particular style of hack-and-slash game, but as a video game, I wouldn't recommend X-Blades.

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