Caladrius Blaze (PC) Review

By Gabriel Jones 04.01.2018 3

Review for Caladrius Blaze on PC

Graham, the wise and benevolent 12th King of Baladin, was betrayed by his vassals. Overnight, he lost both his wife and child. In the wake of such a horrific tragedy, the ruler's heart was gripped by darkness. Before long, he discovered the forbidden spell. Created by the brilliant (and quite insane) Paracelsus, this incantation grants limitless power. Before long, magnificent ships and gigantic armoured fiends became commonplace. The once proud king has built an army, and seems determined to exterminate the entire human race. In Caladrius Blaze, players dive into a gothic realm of nightmares. Hopefully, they can keep their precious ship and clothes intact.

As laborious as detailing the specifics of every star in the sky is, it's time to look at yet another STG. Although these games number well into the thousands, there are still enough differences between them to capture a fan's attention. Caladrius Blaze is unique in that it employs a five-button control scheme. Alongside the customary main cannons and screen-clearing bombs, each of the eight pilotable ships holds three special weapons. Indeed, having to dodge barrage after barrage of bullets isn't enough. If the player can't effectively juggle the tools available to them, then destruction is all but guaranteed.

Screenshot for Caladrius Blaze on PC

Each special weapon falls into one of three classes: Offense, Support, and Defence. Offensive weaponry is designed specifically to destroy enemy armaments as quickly as possible. Sometimes the indirect approach is necessary; this is where Support comes in. Everything from crowd control to specialised damage on exceptionally large targets can fall under this umbrella. Finally, Defence is all about protecting the player's fragile ship. These defensive abilities can clear away enemy bullets. Keep in mind that each ship varies in terms of usefulness. Some are better when played defensively, others are more attuned for scoring potential, and some just seem to make the player's life more difficult.

Predictably, the special weapon system is also tied to attaining high scores. Provided enemy ships aren't destroyed with the main cannon, a multiplier gauge will rise. Depending on the play-mode, a single enemy can eventually be worth ten to twenty times its normal value. Dying resets the gauge, so do try to keep that from happening. Also, certain special weapons also cause the main cannon to fire, which can be annoying for score chasers. Unlike some titles, scoring never becomes convoluted, which is pleasing. Also, there aren't any arbitrary mechanics to memorise. A lot of the replay value is going to come from learning patterns and knowing when to use each special weapon. The sizeable selection of difficulties are also welcome, as they help to ease newer players into this chaotic world, while giving shmup masters a challenge to look forward to.

Screenshot for Caladrius Blaze on PC

Upon starting the game, the player is presented with a choice of three modes. Since its release on the Xbox 360, Caladrius has seen a handful of variations. The most noticeable difference between each mode is the presence of extra stages. In the "Arcade" and "Evolution" modes, gamers will tackle EX stages, which involve destroying enemies before they can leave the screen. They are sort of similar to bonus rounds, except the baddies still fire bullets everywhere, so death is always a very real possibility. Evolution mode also features an additional stage and boss fight.

The number of stages isn't the only difference between each mode. Each variation has a couple aspects unique to them. In Original mode, the player can utilise a full screen burst attack to decimate everything on-screen. Unfortunately, it's rather superfluous, considering that bombs are available, and the rate at which it drains the gauges will lead to poor scores. In Arcade Mode, the burst is replaced with fusion, which allows one to use all of their special attacks until a timer ends. The timer can be replenished by acquiring hidden towers. Evolution improves upon fusion by not only upgrading the power of every weapon, but also causing red medals to drop from enemies. Crimson-stained valuables are worth more than gold, so there's an incentive to stay "evolved" for as long as possible.

Screenshot for Caladrius Blaze on PC

In every respect, this is one finely-tuned shmup. Each stage presents the right balance of weak "popcorn" enemies and imposing battleships. There are ample opportunities for utilising the special weapons. It's always rewarding to survive flurries of bullets, whether it's via slick dodges or effective usage of the defensive skills. The large assortment of ships to choose from will also keep frequent play-throughs fresh. Some players might even get a kick out of the absurdly melodramatic storyline. One of the characters, Lilith, who wears little more than her skivvies and strategically-placed scraps of cloth, lists her occupation as "Hatred." Most of her dialogue consists of maniacal laughter.

Also, as is becoming all too common, there is a fair amount of erotic content. The most notable aspect revolves around the "Shame Break" system. Each boss has three forms, and when they are quickly defeated, the pilot's clothes are shredded. The same fate will also befall the player-character if they collide with a bullet. It's a… humiliating death, to say the least. Despite the propensity for heroines to have their clothes reduced to tatters, the tone is as far from the likes of the Senran Kagura series as could be imagined. It's more than a little disturbing to see so much flesh, moments before a fiery explosion claims their life. On the bright side, these scenes are optional, so people can turn them off if they are not interested in distractions.

Screenshot for Caladrius Blaze on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Ridiculous fan-service aside, Caladrius Blaze is a very enjoyable STG. Each action-packed stage is filled with exciting moments, and they are all capped by thrilling boss battles. The eight pilotable ships offer a myriad of strengths and weaknesses, ensuring a high amount of replay value. While the graphics are far from cutting edge, at least they aren't unpleasant to the eyes. Everything from enemy ships to their bullets is clearly visible, so there's no chance that something life threatening will get lost in the chaos. The sound balancing is also a little suspect, so feel free to crank the music up, while turning the sound effects down. All in all, this is a worthwhile pick-up, so give it a shot sometime.

Developer

Moss

Publisher

H2 Interactive

Genre

Shooter

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   

Comments

Ha, this was my thoughts. Bought this on a urge, and it is pretty fun leveling stuff up, but man the character design really bothers me. It was like the artist was just learning how to draw anime girls.

I recognize the artist from SMT: Devil Survivor.

Everyone is so... perky. It's weird.
 

Oh yeah, looking at those screens now...definitely an SMT vibe! Hadn't realised before Smilie

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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