The wave of cyberpunk is only just starting to build and lots of new titles will be surfing on it. The idea of combining ourselves with machines has been everything from a nightmare to a dream. Ideally, the best combo will lead to all the benefits with none of the drawbacks, sort of like superpowers. It makes one wonder if this is how the hero of Team Suneat’s Blade Assault feels. He’s a cyborg living in a dystopian cyberpunk future who must lead a resistance to save the city. As far as setups for futuristic conflicts go, the Blade Assault demo sets up a classic.
Blade Assault Demo Impressions
From the Audio Log
Whenever there’s a dystopian future setting, there’s always some authority figure that’s corrupt and some spandex away from being a super villain. In the world of Blade Assault, the figure is a military force. Living down in Undercity, the hero (Kil?) wakes up and ends up becoming part of a growing resistance. Together with allies, he must fight against the military forces of Esperanza, an idyllic future city reserved for the rich and powerful. To sum up, this game is about ‘bringing down the man’ and that’s a pretty good use for cybernetics.
The Finest Upgrades
There’s no point in augmenting yourself unless you’re getting the best parts. The Blade Assault demo does its best to deck out the world and characters with the best stuff. The highlight is clearly the combat and rightly so. Kil has a lot at his disposal to play with and unleash on unsuspecting enemies. In addition to a glowing melee weapon, Kil can dash through enemies, pinwheel in arcs and fire bolts of energy. He also gets plenty of upgrades and items that change how each of them behaves and looks. Messing around with electricity and fire is only a visually cathartic feast.
The controls and response are both quite appealing. Every single strike, whether or not it hits an enemy, feels powerful. Hitting enemies feels good, breaking objects is nice and collecting stuff is simple but rewarding. The controls are tight and the gameplay is pretty sharp. The decision to use the cooldown system for the abilities in a game like this is an interesting one. It means rather than worrying about running out of ‘mana’ you just need to worry about timing. It adds value and impact to Kil’s abilities causing players to think about how best to use them.
There’s plenty of credit to hand out to the quality of the art and animation. Despite it being pixel bit, everything moves smoothly. The enemy visuals are clear with various movements to give them life and character. The hub areas are lively and each NPC is colorful with a different design that sets them apart. The overall presentation captures the cyberpunk element effectively, much like another title Iconoclasts.
Sadly, not everyone can afford top of the line parts which is the case for many folks living in Undercity. Some of this is visible in how the combat plays out in the Blade Assault demo. Even though the act of fighting feels good, the fights themselves are pretty messy. It’s not a big issue when enemies are distant from each other, but becomes a huge one during onslaught sequences. During these, enemies emerge from the very air and will pile towards your location. Since there’s no apparent way to separate them from each, you simply have to swing everywhere or run away to pick them off.
The next issue is the looming fear of repetition. While it’s good to stick with what you know, you shouldn’t cement yourself to it. So far, each stage plays like this: Go from left to right, activate a thing, fight off enemies and move on. Sometimes the layout changes slightly and enemies will have stronger counterparts, but it’s the same song and dance. This is the Blade Assault demo, so there’s likely going to be more variety in the final game.
The Revolution Will be Televised
At some point in the future, but hopefully before the actual cyberpunk era happens, Kil and his friends will be leading the working-class assault against the sci-fi elite. Using an arsenal of future weapons and abilities, they stand a good chance of taking the whole system down. They may experience some hurdles in the mess and chaos, but there’s still time for the powers that be to clean some of it up. While we wait for the full release of Blade Assault, let‘s visit the internet café to hear some cyberpunk rock.
If you’d like to try out the Blade Assault demo, you can do so for free on Steam. Developers have not yet announced when they plan to release the full game.
Will Quick is a freelance media wizard living in Spain. When he's not gaming or writing, he's doodling comics or whatever else pops in his head.