Review

Blade Symphony Review

  • Game release: May 7, 2014
  • Reviewed:
  • PC

An unfinished blade.

by

"Nice to meet you. Now let's kill each other!" It's a rather unsettling way to greet someone, but in essence, that's exactly how Blade Symphony's frenzied duels to the death begin. This is murder of the most courteous sort. Bowing is optional, though the vast majority of opponents you cross swords with afford you this sign of respect before they try to slice you in twain in this multiplayer dueling fest. It yields a far more personal kind of combat encounter, which adds an air of excitement and unpredictability to a multiplayer experience that's a bit too frayed at the edges to fully enjoy.

Blade Symphony's take on the fighting genre focuses on skillful swordfights, placing a heavy emphasis on intense one-on-one duels. Multi-round battles play out in a third-person perspective that brings recent melee-centric brawlers like Chivalry and War of the Roses to mind, though the swordplay is far more fluid and elegant in this game's pressure-cooker matches. With a bevy of distinct acrobatic maneuvers and fancy flourishes to accompany their unique fighting styles, the four playable characters are nimble and capable of pulling off some badass attacks. Looking cool while you're whittling down an opponent's life gauge isn't everything though.

Forget fighting; it's time for shopping!

When most fighting games of this sort sport dozens of characters, having only four to pick from is painfully limiting. Blade Symphony instead goes in another direction, by offering a large range of swords and outfit customization options to unlock. While the outfit accoutrements are only cosmetic, the swords do add perks and penalties that play into combat. Unlocking these weapons and goodies, however, is a sluggish process of amassing "notes" by winning matches, and you have to rack up a lot of wins to earn enough points to afford even the lowest-tier items. What's vexing is that this process and how it works isn't explained, and the game also fails to mention that you accrue notes only from wins that you get while playing on specially marked servers. It's the first of many seemingly minor but impactful oversights that dull the shine of the game's finer elements. And Blade Symphony does indeed have its high moments.

Beyond looking awesome in action, the showy fighting styles on display are backed up by a combat system that packs a lot of depth into a streamlined control scheme. Three different stances let you deliver heavy, balanced, and light attacks. You can switch between these stances with a quick flick of the mousewheel to vary moves, throw off opponents, and break through their defenses. Each attack you deliver also plays into a combo chain that can be built up to unleash a wide range of unique dizzying assaults depending on the sequences you put in.

I see your sword is as sharp as mine.

It sounds complex, but it's all fairly easy to track in mid-battle thanks to a chart that shows you where you're at in the current combo chain. Wall runs, feints, jump attacks, dodges and sidesteps, grabs, charge attacks, and missile throws all add further color to the fighting mechanics, as does a multitiered parry system that lets you block and push through enemy attacks if your timing and stance selection are right. There's no shortage of variety here when it comes to killer moves, and cutting down a worthy opponent with a gracefully executed maneuver is ultra satisfying. Ugly rag-doll physics, camera-inside-the-body glitches, and other rough patches sometimes break the spell of a match well fought, but they're fleeting issues.

The bulk of Blade Symphony's core fighting mechanics, duel mode stages, and quartet of characters are well designed in general, but this makes the numerous flaws and incomplete areas that pop up all the more glaring. The tutorial itself gets things off to a poor start. While doing a decent job of explaining the basics of combat, it isn't complete. The blasted thing stops midway through the trainings with a note that says more sessions will be added at some point "soon."

In contrast to the tight arena quarters and rigid structure of standard duel matches, Free for All mode is a nice change of pace, but it presents its own problems. You often spawn in the middle of nowhere in these sprawling free-roam stages, and it takes some fumbling around to find pockets of combatants battling it out. The levels themselves are less detailed than the arenas you battle in elsewhere, and everything from stairway running animation glitches to the camera getting caught on the scenery can muddle the fun. Rather than all-out brawl as the title suggests, this mode lets you attack people at random or offer a challenge for a private duel. The former seems frowned upon by the player community, which is accustomed to more civil one-on-one engagements.

C'mon punk, make my day.

One thing I will say about Blade Symphony's player community is that it's a dedicated and intriguing bunch. Given the duel-focused nature of most matches, the human element they add to the equation also goes a long way toward keeping things interesting. People try out all kinds of weird tactics, like standing still until you approach and striking at the last possible second, or running at you without a weapon drawn and dancing around before finally attacking when your guard is down. You never know which opponents you'll face off against and what unusual strategies they'll roll out, which makes for plenty of humorous and interesting fights. Most of the foes I battled were quite cordial and polite too, which is something that can't be said for a lot of multiplayer communities.

Taken as a tightly cropped slice of the action, Blade Symphony's arena duels showcase some stunning character designs, downright poetic combat maneuvers, and exciting combat mechanics. But that's only a small piece of an unfinished and rather sloppy whole. This multiplayer fighter looks, feels, and actually is incomplete in spots, which puts a real damper on the few bright elements that make it almost worth the fuss.

The Good
Lots of unlockable swords and customization options
Deep swordfighting mechanics are accessible and exciting
The Bad
Limited characters, maps, and gameplay options
Incomplete tutorial tops a long list of unfinished rough patches in the game design
Lots of visual glitches pop up in and out of battle
5
Mediocre
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

/ Staff

Battling through tons of multiplayer matches and fighting plenty of one-on-one duels with all four fighters and lots of different blades, Nathan thought he'd seen it all. That is, until one goofy opponent spent an entire match prancing around in a wild costume without bothering to try to land a single blow.

Discussion

42 comments
dannydopamine8
dannydopamine8

I remember a long time ago when gamespot was ran by adults and a humble group of anonymous guys who generally enjoyed indexing and databasing video games.. I just remember they ACTUALLY used the comprehensive scoring chart with a list of guidelines to accurately score the games. I know that chart still exists but we all know that todays gamespot reviewers ignore it and think they are above it.. 

Nowadays gamespot reviews just seem like some hipster casually grabs a game and sits down and plays it for 20 or so minutes and instantly decides if he likes it or not..

thehollowones
thehollowones

"mediocre" Honestly they need to revamp their scoring names. A 5/10 is right down the middle. It had just as much bad as it did good according to the reviewer (not counting the number of points but the value of each) But people need to stop complaining about "low scores", 5/10 isn't low. 

A 0 means the darn thing wouldn't even play and is literally broken on all levels and incomplete.

1 means it's essentially broken on all levels, though complete, its bad in all aspects.

2-4 is low and says its riddled with atrocious bugs, bad graphics, and poor mechanics ranging from just below average to just above garbage.


5-7 tells me, hey its not great, but its pretty good or at least average.


8-10 tells me, get this game, it's freaking sweet.


That's how I interpret the score system. According to a lot of you, if its below 6, that means the reviewer hated the game and is spitting on it. No, he says its average, the awesome mechanics make up for the extreme lack of completeness and unpolished feel.

Gamesterpheonix
Gamesterpheonix

lol odd score. PCGamer gave the game like an 85. lol wtf. How is this possible?

ironboatlee
ironboatlee

This review : 5/10 

+ Explained so many good/exciting aspects

- Score is nonsense

Hurvl
Hurvl

From the images here, it would appear that the two core features are blades of steel and buns of steel.

dannydopamine8
dannydopamine8

Gamespot throws around scores of 3, 4 and 5 way too easily. Scores of 3-5 should be reserved for games that do not even physically run or are completely broken.


Instead of offering constructive criticism they just brutally chop the developers down at the knees.. This is gaming, lighten up, we are all in this together and its insulting how easily you guys sling dirt on every game.

Gamespot's eview scores do nothing but make ruin peoples hopes.. Do you know how many times i have been super excited for a games release than have had my heart instantly CRUSHED by seeing a gamespot score of 3/10.. ANd the irony is that i usually try the game anyways and end up having a blast. 

It just seems like if a game company does not have at least a 100 million dollars or a name like EA or Activision than the gamespot reviewers treat it like "What small-time game dares to place itself in my company" And just slaps it with a 5 or below review score.


And its a shame that people actually come to gamespot for their gaming needs.. It's a shame what you guys do because gamers actually trust you. Do you know how many times i've gone down to the comments below and have seen people say like "Oh i guess just another crappy game".. THATS HORRIBLE! They just blindly take gamespots word for it without ever trying it for themselves..


All im saying is have a little respect for gaming. It is an art., You should be thankful for the developers who are the pioneers who have created all we get to enjoy today.. And be thankful that without them, you guys would not have jobs.. So please remember what kind of company you are and stop just exploiting games to rake in web traffic.

Gamespot reviewers are pretty ruthless with their scoring from behind the safety of a computer screen.. But if they were in the same room as the developers who made the game they would say "wow this game shows a lot of promise!" and you would give it an 8.. Spineless hypocrits.

Apofis_SG-1
Apofis_SG-1

Oh, this game is great. If you like fighting games with swords (or any fighting game I think will do) you should get it. Im pretty sure you will have some fun. But there is pretty big chance it wont entertain you for long so better grab it when it will be on sale. I got it when it was on early access for only 2 euros. I was happy about the game. Fighting is just great. It have that good feeling when you win like few matches in a row, starting to feel strong and then someone puts you down on the ground.

voljin1987
voljin1987

soooo as good as dark souls 2 then?

Arsyad00
Arsyad00

so, it only low score because of graphic?

Securator
Securator

This is one of the games which felt truly next gen to me despite it having only passable graphics....because it gives you new ways to play....the gameplay here is very unique and in depth....


But unfortunately  people will ignore this game because it's not 'AAA'....someone from EA or Activision will notice its excellent gameplay system and put it in their next gen title in 2015....everyone will then play that game and renounce how it's the best thing to happen to gaming after analogue sticks......then there'll be 50 other spinoffs of the same game but with zombies.....then in 2025 some hip journalist would 'find' blade of symphony and announce that this game started it all....then everyone will be like 'dude!...i need that game's torrent'...end of story...



Dsolow5
Dsolow5

The written review makes the game sound better than the score.

The game is going for interesting gameplay. If the "deep swordfighting mechanics are accessible and exciting" as the reviewer says, I'd say it deserves a higher score.

important45
important45

Coming from someone who has played this game for longer than all of the AAA games I have bought, this game has a lot of untapped potential. I understand that the reviewer faulted it on having limited characters and maps, but the dev team is relatively small. Also, I haven't seen these weird pop ups in battle that you were mentioning about in over 300 hours of play. 


There's one thing I'd like to mention about this game that most other games don't really have. I believe the game's mechanical depth more than makes up for it's lack of characters to be honest. I'm going to be honest and tell a lot of you guys, if you're a competitive person and you're interested in sword fighting games, this game is definitely for you. It takes a very long time to learn this game and play effectively against other players. If you want to play this game for a long time, I hope you have the competitive drive to keep going. This game also lacks the term "progression system" that a lot of players like to throw around. However, the progression system that a lot of people seek is already in front of them and that's developing yourself as a player and constantly improving at the game. After quitting League of Legends at the start of the year and spending more time on this game, I found that I was actually starting to enjoy it and I spent hours practicing against people just to develop new combos and tactics. The community in this game is also very dedicated. Probably one of the reasons why FFAing is frowned upon in that community is because most people use it as a place to practice 1v1 against others or just to hang around and chat. 


Unlike a lot of developers in other games, the developers of Blade Symphony actually do their best to listen to feedback that is provided to them. They have dev-hangouts on google pretty often in order to keep in touch with their community. The community in this game compared to many other games I've played is amazing. Once in awhile, like on any game you'll come across a rude person, but most of the people in this community are willing to help new players and there has even been a comprehensive community guide created about this game specifically for that. 


- Buy this game if you're someone who is ultra-competitive and looking for something to challenge yourself. 


- Stay away from this game if you're a CoD or League rand. 

donmuath
donmuath

Not a fighter game fan, but according to this review, the game succeeds in everything a fighter game should succeed in, why the low score?

cyloninside
cyloninside

i actually think this game is really fun... i would give it a 6.5 because there are issues and it is definitely low budget, but it is still a decent game.

xantufrog
xantufrog

Sounds like pretty awesome combat with a cool community - I hope the glitches and kinks get worked out

wuabel
wuabel

It is an game lacking many elements found in conventional game, but how is this a 5 when most of the articles were positive. I am just really confused with GS's final score standard....do reviewers just give whatever score they have in mind?

Raxyman
Raxyman

Indeed, i liked the game and i thought it was pretty innovative. But it's a rough diamond yet, i don't reccomend buying the way it is currently, unless you want to support the idea.

liquidbutter
liquidbutter

@dannydopamine8 "Gamespot throws around scores of 3, 4 and 5 way too easily."

Really? I thought they handed out 9s way too easily. Last year they gave out more 9/10s than any year previously in Gamespot's history. I'm glad to see they are toning it back down this year.

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

@dannydopamine8  WRONG... the score of one or two (or a zero) is for broken games that don't even run.  I'm sick of everyone loving the 7 through 10 scale so much that it's unthinkable that a game could score less...;

cvjr
cvjr

@LittleMac19 probably because fighting games are more refined for consoles

KowtowRobinson
KowtowRobinson

@Securator Or they could, yknow FINISH the game?  I'd be interested in trying this coming from the fighting game community, but honestly with only 4 characters and an unfinished tutorial among other issues, I'll wait until they provide more finished content.

I've seen early access and beta versions of games with a lot more finished features than this.

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

@Dsolow5  If he had said "the deep swordfighting mechanics are accessible and exciting, but the game doesn't start 99% of the time", would you still cherry-pick one phrase out and say the game deserves better?

Rovelius
Rovelius

@ShepardCommandr  I'd rather have another ''budget-limited'' game than another ''shareholder-funded'' game.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@wuabel  

They do. You just learned that the score system - any score system - is completely arbitrary.

Also, I get the impression that you are ignoring the complaints that the reviewer has with the game. Can you even acknowledge them?

dannydopamine8
dannydopamine8

@faizanhd @dannydopamine8It's not even a debate. Look at bound by flame. A great casual combat game. How can someone with a conscience give a game like that such a low score?


Its like gamespot punishes developers for being indie

STrugglingFool
STrugglingFool

@nl_skipper @dannydopamine8 Nice and yet BF4 got a 8? Now I personally could not play it on launch without crashing. There we have a a game which should have gotten a 4 at best.

NightOfInsomnia
NightOfInsomnia

@nl_skipper @dannydopamine8  I agree with you. People forget to realize that a 5 is actually average, while anything above that is decent and above average. This is not high school, where anything below a 65% is a fail.  

Dsolow5
Dsolow5

@naryanrobinson @Dsolow5  I read his review, then looked at the score. It doesn't really match up.

Your stupid example doesn't have anything to do with this game.

hitomo
hitomo

@Gelugon_baat @wuabel yeah, right, every point system is arbitrary ^^ ... only when you allow to many subjective influences and generaly use it to manipulate and direct opinions ... like here on GS


its called bad.will ... no point system is save from that

Karlinel
Karlinel

@dannydopamine8 @faizanhd  You should understand that every reviewer (and usually, most magazines) have their own criteria for punctuation. If you find yourself consistently disagreeing with a magazine's reviews, it could just be that you don't share the same values. After all, reviewing is just a proper redaction of an opinion.

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

@Dsolow5  Well your "stupid" comment wasn't nearly thorough enough to convey that.


He could draw out the negatives nice and long and repeat essentially the same thing over and over, but as it happens, the flaws here are fairly straightforward and narrow in scope.  Just because he only needs 1% of the review to mention them, doesn't mean they aren't significant.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@hitomo

And when is a point system not arbitrary? Let me guess: when it's giving a number that you like?

Blade Symphony More Info

First Release on May 07, 2014
  • PC
Prove that you are the world's greatest swordsman in Blade Symphony: a slash-em-up featuring a highly detailed and in-depth sword fighting system. Face down other players in skill-based tactical swordplay, in 2vs2 team duels, or participate in sandbox FFA game modes.
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Average User RatingOut of 7 User Ratings
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Developed by:
Puny Human Games
Published by:
Puny Human Games
Genres:
Action