Boreal Blade was a surprise release from the developers at Frozenbyte, creators of the excellent Trine series. The game is centered on combat, with there being four different combat styles and hundreds of weapons to choose from. You’ll be pitted against players online, either in a free for all matches or one of its team-based modes. With this being an online-only game, it’ll have to really impress in order to justify the $20 price tag.
The game heavily focuses on its combat, and in a way, it’s done really well. The fighting isn’t simple, partly because nothing resets back to the standard position. When you swing your sword downward, you’ll have to manually swing it back up. The weighted control of the combat works well as a challenge in fighting your opponents, as one wrong swing will leave you wide open for rivals’ attacks. Your sword can also hit and bounce off of the terrain and other objects on the field, which adds an extra layer of strategy to the death match.
Swordplay isn’t the only form of combat in this game. While there are single/double-handed swords, and a sword and shield combo, you can also utilize staffs and spears as well as your own bare hands. Every weapon has its benefit, and each is useful in their specific environments. The gameplay lends itself well to your creativity, and if you put in the time you can come up with tons of interesting techniques. Obviously this game will intimidate beginners with its combat system, but the freedom of play style will give gamers a higher chance of coming up with a something that caters to them.
Beyond the combat, this game also has some nice quality in its detailing. The environments all look different, and each one has a direct impact on how the matches play out. For example, in one map the terrain features three cliffs with very narrow bridges connecting them. You might want to take a different sized weapon with you to avoid hitting the edges. This can have a cascading effect on your strategies for that stage. As you level up you’ll be able to unlock new weapon and clothing options as well. This provides a great sense of progression and rewards you with skills and cosmetics.
With so much done right, you’d think this game would be a slam-dunk must-buy experience. Unfortunately the game goes completely off the rails with its online infrastructure, of which there seems to be some major net code issues. While I usually didn’t have any problems matching up with other players, I found that I was very often kicked from the matches while playing. This is completely unacceptable in a game that lives or dies by its online functionality. Every time I was kicked I would have to wait minutes to try and get back into another match and on top of that I lost all of my experience I had earned during that fight. Talk about pouring salt into the wound! Even when I was able to stay connected I found some matches suffered some terrible lag, which had a direct impact on the results. To say the online is a mess is an understatement.
The online issues might not have been so bad if Boreal Blade featured a single-player mode. Given that the combat is so good I’m shocked they didn’t create any offline modes to play. Perhaps the cost and workload of creating competent AI opponents was just too much of a burden, but when a game costs $20 and relies on a stable online connection, you had better have the kinks worked out before launching. Luckily there is a demo of the game you can download for free which almost gives you the same experience as the full thing, minus the upgrades and unlockables. I would highly recommend giving that a shot first and playing multiple rounds to see if the online connectivity issues have been resolved before dumping $20 into this. It’s a real kick in the nads to spend money on a game that has severe technical issues. Let’s hope they’re resolved soon!
Boreal Blade Review
- Graphics - 5/105/10
- Sound - 5.5/105.5/10
- Gameplay - 9/109/10
- Lasting Appeal - 4/104/10
Final Thoughts: MEDIOCRE
Boreal Blade nails the combat and has some fun ideas but they’re overshadowed by poor online connectivity. Lacking a single player mode means the game is entirely reliant on servers and unfortunately lag and constant kicking from matches mars the entire experience. Download the demo first to see if the online issues have been resolved before purchasing the full version.