While it’s true that some of video gaming’s best ideas are its most basic ones, the humble hack-and-slash fighter is a genre that often takes repetition and banality to new depths.
Any new entry into this lineage needs to be pretty special to stand out, and sadly Third Blade is a newcomer that largely fails in this task.
Not that we can criticise the game’s visuals – Third Blade looks gorgeous, like a cartoon come to life – but in terms of gameplay ideas and innovation it’s severely lacking.In need of a slash
Like a million other titles before it, Third Blade is a side-scrolling brawler where your main objective is to decorate each level with the blood and entrails of your fallen opponents.
Enemies pop open with a disgustingly satisfying squelch, and the pyrotechnics which accompany your swordplay are genuinely impressive.
As the title suggests, your character has access to three weapon types.
The first is a twin dagger arrangement that's incredibly fast but deals only small amounts of damage.
At the other end of the scale is a sword so large it takes an age to actually swing it, but when it makes contact you can expect your opponents to be divided into several gory pieces.
Somewhere in the middle is the katana, a Japanese sword that manages to combine speed with power.Troublesome trio
Juggling between these three offensive options is vital during play, although as you advance through the game it becomes blindingly obvious that speed is your biggest asset, and you’ll tend to favour the daggers or the katana.
As you fight you earn experience points, which allow you to level-up and augment your skills. You’ll also collect coins and runes from vanquished foes, and you can use these to purchase items and skills respectively.
Bolstering the attack potential of your weaponry is a wise move, but spending all of your runes in such a manner is less smart. This is because you can also use them to revive your character when he perishes, and they become increasingly rare as the game goes on.Wheeling and dealing
It’s here that Third Blade’s shady side makes itself apparent: as the runes become increasingly scarce you're presented with nefarious ways to gain additional ones.
Writing a positive review for the game on iTunes will bag you five runes, and it’s possible to use real world money to add even more to your tally. This kind of practice is commonplace in free-to-play titles, but Third Blade comes with a lofty price tag, making the notion of in-app purchasing seem particularly distasteful.
Even without this complaint, Third Blade’s gameplay isn’t appealing or varied enough to justify your undivided attention. It’s little more than a button-masher, and does nothing to tax your grey matter or get the pulse racing.Third Blade could have been brilliant – the visuals certainly deserve to be attached to a worthier game. Unfortunately, the repetitive gameplay and exploitative in-app purchase system undermine the positive impression created the graphics, and the end result is a samey fighter which is sure to leave a bad taste in the mouth of prospective adventurers everywhere.