Since the original Dark Soul was met with such resounding success and critical response, many games have tried to match the quality and atmosphere that From Software achieved. Plenty have failed, but lots have succeeded in their own way. Blade & Bones clearly draws inspiration from the acclaimed series while also heading off in their own direction, however, they haven’t put the same care and attention in and that is a shame. I really wanted to like Blade & Bones, but it does itself no favours.
Firstly I need to say that Blade & Bones feels like an Early Access game. Things don’t make sense, the text has multiple glaring spelling and grammatical errors, the combat feels unfinished and the game can look awful. Blade & Bones should not be out for release right now as the developers are clearly a long way from actually having a finished game. If this was, in fact, an Early Access game, then I would be much more forgiving. As it stands right now though the number of issues are unacceptable.
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s discuss Blade & Bones actually is and what it tries to be. Set in a strange land, your character awakes in a cave with nothing to guide them except some words that appear out of nowhere. You gather your first sword and begin your journey. You must find 7 items and then, well that bit is hazy. Just as hazy as a lot of the other things happening in the game. Other swordsmen attack you, just because. At one point a man in a suit dropped out a portal and demanded I take him somewhere, but I could never work out where exactly. He followed me around for a while but got in the way during a sword fight where he was cut down. It was weird and confusing in a really dull uninteresting
The combat sounds like a fun premise – pitched sword fights between samurai-esque warriors. In practice, though the fights are very shallow and incredibly frustrating. One reason for this is that there is no way to block. Players can either dodge out of the way or try to parry attacks. Which while sounding fun, the dodge roll sends you so far away that some enemies will disengage with you. The parrying doesn’t always trigger and when it does you sometimes still take damage. Fights could have been a highlight, but instead, they join the ever growing list of Blade & Bones failings.
I feel like the developers were trying to give their game a mystery that players would enjoy unfolding and discovering, but what they have done is made a game where nothing makes sense. You move from region to region, killing people, collecting swords, relics and even changing the time of day for no real reason. This would be fine if the game was actually fun. I’ve played plenty of games that have little to no story or even a downright terrible one, but that I have loved because the rest of it was enjoyable. Unfortunately, Blade & Bones does very little to intrigue the player and instead only succeeds in confusing and boring them.
If Blade & Bones has one thing going for it, then it is that graphically it can look very nice. I must stress the ‘can’ aspect of that, though. At times it can look beautiful. The lighting and colour palette show a very sad where clearly bad things have happened. However, it can just as easily look like a bad PlayStation 2 game. Some areas just look worse than others. The graphical style just doesn’t work in places like snow because there are no tones or depth to the surroundings – just a white snow. Once again this feels like an area that Blade & Bones have not finished.
Unfortunately, and it is unfortunate, Blade & Bones is terrible. Perhaps after a lot of updates and work by the developers, it could be transformed into a fun game with an interesting world. It certainly has the start of some of those things, but it feels like an alpha version of a game being sold as a finished product. Blade & Bones needs to find a way to either become Early Access or make it very clear to people that it is not a finished game, because otherwise, they are going to have a lot of very angry customers.