Blade Symphony is one of the first of many Steam Early Access games, not only is it a game you can buy whilst it still being in development but it’s also full of swords and ninja types. Puny Human Games have made an arena fighter full of the pointy weapons and straying away from button mashing sword fighting that you might find in various Action RPGs and the like, Blade Symphony is based on careful, planned attacks.
Firstly Blade Symphony is Third Person, nothing particularly unusual but when you start to consider that it plays and feels very much like more standard 2D Fighter, much of what you do is based on countering your opponents moves, just as much as making your own. Movement is handled like a standard shooter, in 3rd Person, with you always looking directly ahead but aside from this it’s a free arena that lets you wonder around aimlessly should you wish to. There are also times that it might be worth turning your back on your enemies but generally speaking you should keep track of your target(s) (yes there are 2v2 games as well).
Blades are not only a prominent part of the title but also the focus of the game. Slicing and dicing your way to victory is how you should go about winning. Attacks can be initiated, charged and releases with a left click, the direction you are moving in will also alter the exact swing you take. It means you have some pretty varied swings that can swipe enemies in a certain arc or even give them a stab if you so wish. Attacks can be of different strengths as well and throwing that in the midst alongside the combo system leads to all sorts of attack streams being waved in your opponents faces.
It might seem like quite a lot to take in at first and I know I had quite a lot of trouble messing around with the different chains of attacks. So it’s quite hefty in just that one set of variable chains, it’s even heftier when you consider that that is just one of the three classes. Each class has its own type of attacks and follows a style that changes the way you play greatly. There are at least four classes for the full release judging by the number of portraits in the class selection screen but currently you only have three. You have the usual heavy, medium and light archetypes and each plays very differently, no one class is definitively stronger than either of the others but if you read the forums there tends to be a skew towards certain types and blades (which can also be chosen and has its own effects).
Spectator mode is actually very handy in the game, as each game takes place as a 1v1 or 2v2 you can watch the game from the side as though the two players were playing a 2D fighter or you can watch from each player’s perspective. It means you can watch other players to see how they play in between the rounds you play. During the time you have to wait to renter combat it is actually quite interesting to watch and the fact that you can still flick between the other arenas on the server means you don’t have to watch any particular match.
I’ve played quite a few rounds of the game now, against various people and it’s started to rank me. You start off moderately high up and then it gradually begins to help you find your place (I assume mine is quite low). Once you find people that are around your level, you can spar away for a couple of rounds and there might be a map change in between. It’s easy to just wait your turn, as the fights go on as it is quite enjoyable to sit back and watch. The only real trouble I came across was a few of the high ranked players, they weren’t particularly graceful and once they meet each other it’s like watching deer rutting with each other.
It’s turning out to be quite fun so far, but the servers are never particularly full at any point. There is definitely the start of a community, which is really the most important feature of multiplayer only games, but with the promises of bots and the fact that it’s still in development it can hopefully grow. It’s a game that definitely has a niche, and as it’s an offshoot of the fighter genre, the scope for how competitive it could be is pretty good as well. As it is an Steam Early Access game I urge you to check out some videos if it interests you, or straight-up buy it. It still has some way to go but it is progressing quite nicely.