Game Reviews

Ghost Blade

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| Ghost Blade
Ghost Blade
| Ghost Blade

There has to be a point in video games when someone recognises that this lone-wolf thing might be efficient, but it's also quite a lot of hard work when battling endless hordes of ghouls, demons and terrifying giant bosses.

This isn't that point. Ghost Blade has you - a sword-wielding, arrow-flinging lonesome hero - working your way through lands that have been tainted by evil, slicing up anyone who gets in your way. (Don't worry about whether or not they happen to be evil - it turns out all the good people have been sliced up prior to your arrival.)

Is has turned to the zombie?

Any nuance in Ghost Blade's story is eradicated by truly awful translation that veers towards the comical, almost transforming the text into a kind of surrealist poetry. However, right from the off it's at least clear this isn't a title big on subtlety.

You use a virtual stick to move your swordsman about the place, until you become trapped by barriers of magic. You then kill anything that dares to venture near you, until the barrier vanishes and you can continue on your way.

Combat is swipe- and tap-based: depending on the direction you swipe in, you can perform various offensive and defensive moves. Taps fire arrows at more distant foes.

An optional 'intelligent' control setting adds a little extra automation to proceedings, and the overall feel is satisfying and effective, carefully balancing tactics with fast-paced slashing. (And if you're thinking "Wow, that sounds quite a bit like Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword on the Nintendo DS," yes. Yes, it very much does.)

Not always a cut above

Visually, Ghost Blade has a lot going for it. Ignoring some messy and pixelated comic-oriented cut-scenes, the game is packed full of beautiful scenery and a varied - if unoriginal - menagerie of foes to dispatch.

The camera works reasonably well, attempting to intelligently offer you the best view of what's going on, although it never manages to fully compensate for the portrait-only view that too often makes it tough to see and counter incoming attacks.

The game also has a strangely uneven difficulty. You'll likely breeze through the majority of battles, before getting stabbed to death by the end-of-level boss.

The bosses at least teach you the importance of balancing attacks and evasive manoeuvres, but when you're in the middle of being hacked to pieces for the third time in a row, you'll feel that unmistakable tug of IAP, tempting you to buy some gems to pay for a recovery spell.

The straight and narrow

Ghost Blade is also surprisingly linear. An hour or so in, it becomes clear this isn't so much a quest as a rollercoaster, zipping you with relative efficiency from one end of a tale to the other.

Although there are 'secrets' to find, they mostly appear to be rooms filled with yet more demons to battle (in return for extra gems), rather than branching routes. This means if you do get stuck (as I did for an infuriatingly long time at an ostensibly simple puzzle outside of a temple), you're stuffed.

Still, as inconsistent and laborious as Ghost Blade can be at times, there's no denying its sense of ambition, and the genuine thrills it's capable of supplying when you're spinning around, bloodied zombies and demons flying through the air.

Ghost Blade

A fairly satisfying and good-looking slice-em-up that could do with a bit more polish and difficulty balancing