Blade to Blade is an ambitious, first-person kendo simulation game currently in a very early stage of development.
The Pre-Alpha Demo of Blade to Blade feels like a proto-Wiiware game without the advantage of motion controls, which speaks to its current quality as a game. The developers were perhaps a little overeager to begin their Steam Greenlight campaign as the gameplay needs some serious improvement.
While it is mildly amusing to watch your opponent’s arms clip through their body and their hands contort into unimaginable configurations, in these early stages of development the game’s unresponsiveness grows tiring very quickly. The mapping of the sword to the mouse is off-kilter in the extreme and, combined with the avatar’s sluggish movement speed, Blade to Blade‘s gameplay gets old very quickly.
Lest you think we are overly negative, the game does get a few things right. The main menu UI captures the simplistic design typical of both modern and ancient Japan and the sound effects are clean and trigger when appropriate. The tutorial is also kept short and sweet, which will make the game easy to pick up and play further down the development pipeline.
Conceptually, the game could work if the control issues were ironed out, but then, most people would likely prefer to pick up the tremendously fun and excellently balanced Swordplay minigame from Wii Sports Resort. In order to make Blade to Blade stand out from the crowd, the developers should consider investing in a strong art director to help infuse a more zen-like feel into the game. It would also benefit them to focus the game’s design around the strategic manoeuvring and mind games that help to define Kendo as a sport.
As it is, Blade to Blade doesn’t have a lot to offer other than the promise of better things to come. With its plans for seven classes and over fifty different blades, Blade to Blade has set itself some lofty goals. Whether or not the developers manage to meet their mid-2016 deadline with a polished product, only time will tell.