Bladestorm: Nightmare (PC) Review

By Sandy Wilson 23.07.2015

Review for Bladestorm: Nightmare on PC

Bladestorm: Nightmare is a re-release of the original PS3 game by Omega Force, the developer of the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors franchises. The first iteration was received badly, with reviews citing flaws, dodgy controls and poor AI. This time around, it has been scaled up to full HD and offered in both Japanese and English. How does the pseudo strategy hack 'n' slasher hold up in 2015? Cubed3 finds out in this review of the updated PC version.

Bladestorm: Nightmare's story is quite interesting. The fantasy take on the Hundred Years' War is actually quite fun to play through, although the fake French and English accents are shockingly bad. To begin with, a mercenary can be customised, and the options are quite detailed, even allowing for a change of height. After the main character has been designed, missions are offered, where the character can be aligned with either the French or the English. The pub/tavern acts as the mission hub and general game navigation point. There are areas where the main character can be levelled up and redressed, along with the normal troop squads.

The Hundred Years' War campaign mode is fairly lengthy, offering replayability via taking a different side for the war. This edition also features the Nightmare campaign, whereby a monster invasion disrupts the Hundred Years' War. This monster army is under the command of Jeanne D'Arc, surprisingly, and England joins forces with France to repel them. These modes are interchangeable, with each custom mercenary keeping experience, money and equipment between levels.

Screenshot for Bladestorm: Nightmare on PC

Missions generally require the destruction of a certain high level enemy commander, or the capture of a certain keep/fortress. Each battle takes place over multiple days, giving a whole new sense of scale to each mission, and with each day showing the build up to victory or defeat for the English or French it, adds some extra value to each encounter, which again contributes to the overall feeling of investment. The battlefields themselves are quite large, but not necessarily full to the brim with enemies or collectables, which means that back-tracking becomes a little pointless when charging forwards offers challenge and rewards.

When the gameplay begins, things get bad quickly, for a short period. Tutorials pop-up with button prompts on them, but these buttons don't always correspond to an actual keyboard key. For example, the first one is for selecting a group of swordsmen. The button shown is a square key with a refresh symbol (this doesn't exist); what it actually means is Return/Enter, and this is a recurring theme, which might wreck the game's introduction for many people. If using a controller, though, things are a little easier. Each key in the tutorial pop-ups is colour coded to an Xbox controller button.

The pseudo hack 'n' slash/strategy gameplay is actually quite cool and really helps to differentiate this series from the other Warriors games. Once the controls have been worked out, Bladestorm: Nightmare opens up and allows access to a huge battlefield map and a varied range of troop groups. Each troop category is strong against one other - for example, cavalry is good against swords, and swords are good against archers. The actual battle controls are quite good; holding the right trigger puts the active squad into formation, which allows for a wide range simultaneous attack that is helpful against a group of enemies. This is probably the preferred way to play, as it feels more precise.

Screenshot for Bladestorm: Nightmare on PC

The battles do feel odd to begin with, though. The mental clash caused by the Warrior style running around, but not being able to attack by mashing a button is really jarring. Each squad has three "powers" to begin with - a heavy attack, a lighter attack and a defensive move. These have set recharge times, during which the main character and their troops are open to attack with very little ability to fight back, which is only really a problem against bosses due to their high damage points. Once this system starts to make sense, Bladestorm introduces secondary characters who can join up with the main character to perform team attacks, helping to freshen up the gameplay. Allies can also be sent to take care of other objectives, such as taking over a fortress or supporting troops that were defending via the command menu, or by taking direct control of them and letting the AI control the custom mercenary(s) instead.

The battles are dynamic, and due to the presentation, the scale feels massive, especially with the small player-controlled squad charging around completing objectives, and hundreds of other squads engaging in fights and defending/attacking strongholds. In Nightmare mode this is amplified as the squad sizes are upped. If there are multiple custom mercenaries they can be dispatched onto the battlefield, as well as commandable/controllable allies, which really contribute to a feeling of controlling a much bigger army and opens up many more strategic options.

Screenshot for Bladestorm: Nightmare on PC

Graphically, Bladestorm is surprisingly pretty, despite having dated elements. The opening cinematic is well presented, but some of the animations are questionably reminiscent of PS2 CG. The gameplay presentation is similarly solid, but with oddities. The tavern/pub area is good; the barkeeper himself has plenty of detail, with some nice high resolution textures on his clothes and furniture; however, once on the battlefield things take a step down. The main character stays detailed, but the multi-man squads have noticeably lower detail. It's not bad, but it is noticeable. The battlefields themselves are okay; the textures aren't brilliant and the water looks odd, but during the mission so much is happening that the background doesn't matter so much.

The updated visuals help add a sense of newness, which covers up some of the older elements that have been left in place after the original release, but it does mean that the hardware required to run the game smoothly is actually quite high end. For console gamers, they may wish to purchase it for new generation consoles over the last generation, as it cuts frame drops to almost zero. On PC, however, it might pay to check the hardware requirements first, as even on fairly up to date hardware it has a bit of a cough every now and then.

The voice acting is Bladestorm's oddity. In English, both the French and English accents are… awful - so awful that they are actually funny, to an extent. The lines are delivered alright, but with the usual lack of inflection that voice actors should really put in (like in Samurai Warriors 4, where things are all good.) As far as technical problems are concerned, there is one glaring problem. The game begins in Japanese - text, voices, etc. - and is completely undecipherable for anyone without any knowledge of the Japanese language. This is remedied in the setup menu, which is offered when the game is launched via Steam. However, the option is buried in the third level of the menu in a drop-down select box, which has no English pointers to follow, making Bladestorm: Nightmare awkward to set up, initially.

Screenshot for Bladestorm: Nightmare on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Bladestorm: Nightmare is thoroughly enjoyable throughout. From its awful voices to its crazy fantasy mode about fighting dragons, or its more down to earth medieval tale, the game really tries to make up for any shortcomings the original release had. The updated visuals are very good, even with its downfalls, and the gameplay, once it's been deciphered, is fun. All in all, it's a great title for fans of the Warriors franchises, but be prepared for the differences and enjoy the new experience. Here is hoping for a sequel!

Developer

Omega Force

Publisher

Koei Tecmo

Genre

Brawler

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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