Based on Chinese mythology and with an art style that sort of looks like a Vanillaware game, Bladed Fury, released by PM Studios, is a 2D action game that has an appreciated uncomplicatedness to it. Putting stylish combat firmly at the forefront, this brief narrative will keep players engaged with button-mashing combo-based action even though there isn’t much else happening.
Playing as a princess trying to avenge her father’s death, the story is detailed but it actually just gets in the way. Every time the action grows in intensity, the game comes to a screeching halt when a subtitled dialoged cutscene appears. Thankfully, these boring dialog segments can be skipped and the player won’t lose any entertainment factor when bypassed. All you need to know is this babe is going to use her large swords to kill anything that moves: human, ghost, or demon.
The combat system is the reason to play this game and plays a bit like a 2D classic God of War. One button is designated for the faster but weaker attacks whereas the other button swings a large sword that cuts through armor but at the cost of speed. Linking combos becomes enjoyable thanks to a lenient dodge and shield button, firmly placing combat as the meat of the gameplay. Eventually, players will unlock super moves that can be performed by holding the trigger and tapping a corresponding face button. These large attacks can only be used in limited quantity but can be swapped when more are eventually earned. Coupled with double jumps, aerial combos, and perfect parries that result in stunned enemies, the recipe results in a fluid and always entertaining combat system.
Bladed Fury is an action game with minor platforming segments. Make no mistake, this is not a Metroidvania although there is a map system linked by numerous screens. Backtracking is minimal and the player will never get lost or wonder where to go. This is mostly due to the linear level design but also because each section of the campaign is chapter based. Sometimes the player will need to find a key to access the next part of the stage but each area mostly involves killing a bunch of common enemies, reaching a checkpoint, jumping on a platform or two, and eventually fight a large boss to end the chapter. Again, I definitely appreciate this is uncomplicated approach as the campaign never outstays its welcome or tries to shoehorn odd mechanics in a design that never calls for it. It is simple but it still works.
The game is trying for that Muramasa Vanillaware visual style and gets pretty close. The 2D sprites are large, colorful, and full of that quick animated anime style that almost makes it look like a Samurai Jack cartoon. It is also encouraged to move your focus from the action-filled foreground to admire the detail found in the background art. It is easy to overlook but there is some neat elements to appreciate there. The ancient Chinese soundtrack also fits the mood the game perfectly.
Bladed Fury isn’t anything special but that is entirely ok. In today’s current gaming landscape, it is actually refreshing to play a simple 2D button masher that has just enough frills to keep you entertained through to the end. The flavor will keep you satisfied but there won’t be the need to come back for seconds.
Also available on PS4 and Switch.
Not As Good As: Dragon’s Crown Pro
Better Than: trying to beat NES Battletoads single player
Wait For It: the upcoming new TMNT brawler