Hot off the heels of reporting that Crescent Moon Games’ Shadow Blade would be launching relatively soon, we were given the opportunity to check out a near-finished version of Dead Mage’s platform runner. Suffice to say, I really like what I see and fans of old-school ninja action should take note.
Launching the game for the first time brings an introductory cutscene setting the stage for your ninja hero’s introductory quest: return to your sensei with news of a rogue clan’s return to power. After this brief exercise in narration the game dives deep into its action-packed gameplay, which is where the game shines.
A platform runner with swordplay mixed in, Shadow Blade is level-based with three objectives for each stage. Objectives don’t seem to change across levels and players are awarded a golden shuriken for each goal attained. Shadow Blade doesn’t have a life system either; die and you restart the level (or from a checkpoint) with the timer still running. The swordplay also feels rhythmic in nature, as timing your attacks lead to quicker kills (letting you get past sections faster). Thus, it’s a game that focuses more on speed and precision rather than caution.
Thankfully, Shadow Blade seems to offer all the tools necessary to prepare players for that style of play. The game’s gesture-based controls feel smooth and spot-on and I was wall-jumping and dispatching enemy ninjas with ease after a few stages. This probably had to do with the tutorial, which is well done and offers simple instructions showcasing all the various gesture-based moves. Complementing the excellent controls is a colorful art style that makes it feel like you’re controlling a cartoon. I’m also digging the subtle music as well.
Even after playing only the first few levels, I’m digging what Shadow Blade has to offer. If you’d like to see the game in action, I recommend checking out the trailer above. Otherwise, look for Shadow Blade to be released sometime this month.
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