Ayumi is a petulant manga-style treasure hunter, exploring third-person hack-%26rsquo;n%26rsquo;-slash ruins. We%26rsquo;ll spare you the details of the pretty, jumbled cutscenes which entirely fail to explain what%26rsquo;s going on, because this is about as generic an action game as you could imagine; the story isonly there to string together a series of temples and ruins in which you hit lots of things with a sword or some bullets. Because Ayumi has gun blades! Swords that are guns!
You pick up %26lsquo;souls%26rsquo;, which are really experience points. These can be spent on new skills %26ndash; which are spells %26ndash; and health and rage packs. Rage being mana. We see through your semantics, X-Blades. Repetitively, each location locks its exit until you%26rsquo;ve cleared all the baddies. And to a degree, that%26rsquo;s fine. You hammer away with the main attack, fire bullets to take down flying creatures and unleash your powers for heftier damage. The trouble is you do just this, with little variation in challenge, again and again.
It%26rsquo;s also buggy. One tiresome sequence requires that you perform a forward dive, a move Ayumi is only prepared to pull off at random. The environments are clippy, and the lock-on targeting would rather pick a distant invisible creature on the other side of a solid wall than the 14 currently trying to rip off your face.
But X-Blades%26rsquo; greatest crime is to be dull. The explosions and spells look lovely, but the game itself is drudgery. Ayumi%26rsquo;s abilities constantly grow, but are never applied in a novel way. When each new level feels about as interesting as doing the washing up, you may as well do that instead.
Apr 29, 2009