Tuesday, October 22, 2019

AeternoBlade II (NSW) Review

SuperPhillip Central's next review as we inch towards the site's 900th total review is AeternoBlade II, the sequel to a game that originally debuted on the Nintendo 3DS. With a bigger scope and a larger scale, does that make for a game that's a better title?

Time isn't on this game's side.

I had a small interest in the original AeternoBlade which initially launched on the Nintendo 3DS. I played the eShop demo, but never got around to playing the full version. Shame on me, then, because since I didn't play through the story of the first game, I entered AeternoBlade II, a sequel with a much grander scale and scope, not knowing what the heck was going on story-wise.

AeternoBlade II starts out as a linear affair with players being introduced to the three playable characters in the game, each with their own play styles. However, the character that is the most prominent throughout the adventure is Freyja, a young woman who players can use yellow orbs from defeated enemies to level up her stats (such as HP, MP, Attack, and so forth) as well as level up her various abilities.

The game soon turns into a regular Metroidvania-structured game, having non-linear exploration, puzzle-solving, boss-battling, clearing out rooms filled with enemies to progress, and returning to past locations with new abilities to access previously unreachable areas.

Where AeternoBlade II attempts to shake things up and differentiate itself from the endless competition of Metroid and Castlevania-style clones to those games' thrones is with the game's time-manipulation abilities. These are used in a twofold way: in combat and to solve puzzles. Some abilities create clones of your character to be able to hit multiple switches at once to open gates, while others rewind time for everything except your character, allowing them to ride up platforms that would otherwise continuously move downward.

AeternoBlade II also splits up its gameplay between a traditional side-scrolling perspective that occasionally finds the camera in a 2.5D approach while other times it employs an over-the-shoulder look. Unfortunately, the latter creates more problems than the approach is worth, as the camera loves to get caught behind walls and geometry, and trying to dodge enemies coming at you from multiple directions is nothing but an impossibility.

What further aggravates with AeternoBlade II is how difficult the game is. Part of that is the clumsiness of the combat and collision detection, making it so enemies don't really have any tells to if they're taking damage. It also makes it a challenge to see what is happening on screen, meaning evading attacks is also obnoxious. And while it's nice to have an arsenal of attack types to each character (a weak attack, a strong attack, a launch attack, and the aforementioned time powers), the flow of combat just feels off when you can't cancel out of attacks easily.

AeternoBlade II attempts to be too big for its budget. The character models and environments are ghastly, the camera is terrible, the combat is too clumsy and stiff to be attractive, the difficulty is too high because of how atrocious combat is, the voice acting is awful, and I've lost progress multiple times due to the Switch version of the game crashing on me a handful of times. I appreciate the attempt at making a lengthy adventure, but with the developer's budget, the scope of the game should have been reined in and instead given more polish than what is currently here. As is, AeternoBlade II is a game that you should avoid, and no amount of manipulating time can fix that.

[SPC Says: D]

A review code was provided for this review.

No comments: