Badass hot chicks beating the crap out of monsters, flipping around in skimpy outfits and speaking with thick English accents might sell a few games, but unless a title can provide a real reason for gamer to pick it up, it could be bound for failure. Luckily, Blades of Time’s dual-wield katanas, massive guns and blond pigtails come supplemented with some innovative and intriguing gameplay possibilities with its time rewind mechanic.
Blades of Time follows the adventures of a treasure hunter, Ayumi as she explores a mysterious island full of monsters, valuable treasure, and untold power for her to wield. The game plays as a standard third-person action title full of tons of weapons to unlock, and magic powers to obtain. We played through one of the early levels in the game set in a lush jungle with plenty of enemies and some platforming elements. Levels appear to be fairly linear, challenging players to bypass locked gates, impassable cliffs and hordes of baddies.
The majority of the gameplay focuses on killing bad guys – which Ayumi is well equipped to do. The Heroine brandishes twin katanas which rapidly cause damage up close and a variety of rifles and shotguns to use at a distance. The action looks similar to Bayonetta or God of War as Ayume slashes up monsters, launches them up to into the air with Guile style flash kicks, deals out finishing moves before she dashes to the next victim to deliver more pain. Add a few super moves like screen nuking magic fireballs and splintering ice shards and you have a pretty decent action game, but what makes Blades of Time stand out from other action games is its time rewind mechanic.
Rewinding time has been done before in games like Prince of Persia or Braid, but unlike the Prince, Ayume is not affected by the reversal. Using the ability will not pull you out of pits or prevent you from being skewered by a deadly trap – when the time rewind ability is activated the player stands unaffected and watches time go backward. This creates a “current Ayumi” and a “previous Ayumi” essentially making clones in time. The clones can be used in a variety of ways.
For instance, some enemies have impenetrable defenses when attacked from the front and are too fast to maneuver behind. Attacking for a short time then rewinding will cause the enemy to be distracted by your previous self and allow you to circle around and attack his back. Time can be rewound without limit to your last checkpoint and can be done multiple times allowing multiple duplicate Ayumis to be present at one time.
The rewinding mechanic can also be applied to solving the world’s puzzles. At one point we were required to turn a crank which opened a gate that would immediately close when released. We then used the time rewind ability so that our clone opened the gate for us and we just waltzed right through. The new twist on time manipulation definitely piqued our interest.
Blades of Time releases on Xbox 360 and PS3 early 2012.