Disclosure ‐ Thanks go to Rank17 for providing us with the copy of the game to review
If I told you that this was another wave based shooter for Vive, would you be excited? To be fair, I wouldn’t be. Over the last few months is has proven itself to be one of the most popular go-to genres for a FPS style VR games. On the whole I do consider this unfortunate. However, as I have noted in the past, there are some good games of this type. A little while I covered Serious Sam, while I did not give it a score (it is still in early access) I do feel that showed that this genre an entertain. BladeShield? Well, this is a wave shooter… is it fun though?
I find it best to go into new games with as little information as possible. While older franchises might not always get that treatment, I think that preconceptions have a tendency to influence what one thinks about a game. BladeShield is a title I am glad I came into totally blind. I raised an eyebrow (under the Vive) when I saw that it was wave based. I raised the other brow when I learnt of its premise. Light. Sabres!
While normally I am far less excited about these bouncy swords, this meant that I became curiously optimistic about BladeShield. I went to rebound the first slow moving projectile… I missed and it hit me. As always, off to a great start. Fortunately my start was improved by the second feature in this game. The shield. While the sword can bounce projectiles and cut bots in twain, the shield can only bounce bullets. This does restrict the power of this attachment, but the additional surface area helps bounce everything that is fired your way. This does come in super handy. All it takes is a single click on the touchpad to change between the sword and shield on each hand.
So, a wave based shooter with shields and light sabres. I can see why people wouldn’t think this is anything special. How much can you do with a sword and a shield to make a game super interesting? This is where the missing feature I have not mentioned yet comes into play. The sword and shield together have a surprising and game changing trick. As you block the energy balls your sword charges. Then, when you have blocked enough you will notice your sword sparking. When this happens pull the trigger and thrust it into the ground.
All around you the air itself ignites, an EMP shockwave moved outwards taking down all the enemies in its path. This! It is this that makes this game feel so good. It is this simple correlation, this relationship, between defending yourself and destroying everything which leads you from the present into the future. It means at any given point you feel as though there is a reason to keep going. Either it will be the desire to charge, or then use, the EMP. This alone gives you a reason to micro-managing each of the different enemies you will encounter. Simply killing them all as fast as possible will not get you far in this game. Although it may come as a surprise to some, this is a form or resource management, and without managing it appropriately you cannot expect to do well.
While the combat works really well, what can be said about the enemies that you fight? Well, they are simple; there are flying shooty dudes who shoot one or more energy balls, flying bots that have spinning blades for a belts, walking exploding bots and giant turrets. I have not seen any forms yet that vary from these. There are always the subtle variations, some carry shields and some shoot 2 rather than one projectile. On the whole there is not a great deal of variation.
I am actually not too worried about this. I find the bots perfectly suit the nature of the gameplay; by keeping the types consistent, players are able to instead focus on managing their resources across the game. They can work on getting perfect results and finesse their movements.
The map is a more interesting point. There is only one and players are only ever attacked from a single direction. I must say that I feel that this is a little bit of a shame. VR promises such space for players to interact in, by limiting the action to a standing, forward facing only experience I wonder if the game has been hamstrung. I do not think this makes the game bad, I just wonder if it limited its own potential.
I really enjoyed playing BladeShield. It does not pretend to be anything particularly complex or deep, but none-the-less it managed to pull off being far more than I would have thought possible for a wave based shooter. The sword play is really good, bouncing the projectiles just feels nice. The deeper shield-to-sword mechanic really help elevate this game beyond other simple shooters. So I feel comfortable recommending this game, especially given its very low price point.