When you buckle down for an hours-long RPG quest, you automatically prepare for a certain amount of repetition, inconvenience and drawn-out tasks. Your rewards are usually an exciting battle system and engaging storyline that balance out the other shortcomings, making the tedious moments fly by. Blade Dancer: Lineage of Light is the exact opposite in every possible way.
After a good seven hours of running from seaside town to fog-laced woods, you're still killing the same monsters, talking to the same people and looking at the same environments. So, fine, this adventure takes a while to get started, that's forgivable. But even 20 hours in, or 30 or whatever, fundamental aspects of gameplay continue to fight back, dead set on pissing you off.
Instead of random battles, you can actually see enemies roaming the overworld, represented by floating skulls. Get too close and they chase you. Steer clear or level up and they'll avoid you. But as you're going through your item list, or equipping new weapons, the monsters are still moving around the area. You can see a skull zipping up to you, but can you back out of the item menus fast enough? Then, the enemies reappear after a certain amount of time, ready to tag you once again, usually in a single-file line of skulls that force you to fight battle after battle until you die.
The strength of these creatures is horribly unbalanced. Some are woefully weak while others destroy you with a few moves. This is true from the first areas until the end.
As you're getting in all these fights, your quartet of warriors has to deal with their slowly degrading weapons. Every time you swing your sword or fire an arrow, the weapon takes a hit. Eventually, it breaks and you have to buy a new one. Not very cool when you're waist-deep in some dungeon or tower, now weaponless - though there is a way to preserve your items.
By taking your weapons to an appraiser, you can break them down into their base parts. Once you've done that, you know how to reassemble the item yourself, with no need to buy it again. But you need those parts, which may or may not be easy to acquire. And you have to pay for them, which defeats the whole point of "oh look, I saved a ton of money by making it myself."
Better still is the fact that some item fusions can blow up in your face and you actually lose components. So now you have no sword, no parts and even less money. It's not as damning as it sounds, but it is not fun by any stretch of the imagination. It honestly feels like Blade Dancer wants you to be miserable and just deal with it.
So is there anything here that's even worth a look? Well, the music is well done, but perhaps the sole interesting aspect at work is the Lunability system. Rather than using magic points to cast spells, the entire party (and enemies) derive power from a chargeable meter. The more damage is dealt, the faster the meter fills up - deciding whether to use quick attacks or let the meter charge for a stronger assault makes each battle tense and calculating... but it's not enough to save the rest. Spend a couple of hours coping with the plodding narrative and oppressive gameplay and you'll swear off RPGs for life.