Title: Bladestorm: Nightmare
Platform: PC, PS3, PS4 and Xbox One (reviewed)
Developer: Omega Force
Release date: March 17th (North America; PS3, PS4 and Xbox One), March 20th (UK; PS3, PS4 and Xbox One version), May 2015 (PC)
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Bladestorm was originally released early in the PS3 and Xbox 360 console cycle, way back in 2007. It loosely retells the story of The Hundred Years war which took place between the kingdoms of England and France way back in the 14th and 15th century. The game scored an average of 60% back then, so Koei opted to take it off the shelves, add the Nightmare subtitle and give it new life on the console generation of remastered games. How does this game fare 8 years later?
As the game is published by Koei, expect it to have some similarities to the publisher’s popular Dynasty Warriors franchise; as in the latter, Bladestorm: Nightmare pits you as an up and coming mercenary against opposing armies. As the protagonist, you’re asked to choose missions between the French and English. As a mercenary, you have no attachment to either side so you’re free to fight alongside the English on the first mission then side with the French in the next one. You can follow the story through conversations overheard during your downtime in the tavern, also featuring historical and specifically created characters.
It does share a few similarities with DW, but to make things stand out, it adds a bit of a strategy element to the gameplay. Instead of button mashing your way through waves of enemy soldiers, you’ll need to recruit different types of soldiers to bring with you to war; because as a lonesome soldier, you won’t stand a chance. You can choose among archers, spear soldiers, for example. The game encourages you to switch crew from battle to battle in order to level them up equally. Another point is that you can’t simply button mash your way to victory. No matter what type of army you bring along with you, you can hit the attack buttons for a limited time. Once the meter is empty, you need to wait for it to full in order to go back on the offensive.
Once in the game’s world, you need to travel from castle to castle in order conquer them by taking their defending armies. Obviously, on your way to the castle, you will encounter enemy forces as the opposing kingdoms will also be looking to take you down. When deploying, you’ll be able to choose the secured area of your choice to start from. Conquering a new base also allows you to switch soldier type before moving on to your next target. Problem is, moving from one base to another can be long and boring. Also when facing off against one or more waves of opposing armies at the same time, you can easily lose sight of your character, despite him having a yellow arrow above his head. You’ll also be able to fight along other characters and switch at any time during the battle; meaning you’ll be able to attack on two fronts.
All missions take place during the day, so you’re basically free to run around and take down as many enemy armies as you can. You’ll slowly see the sunset as you progress and once you hit night time, you’ll get the results of your battles and see what kind of items and the XP earned through your conquering. Also depending on how battles fare, certain contract will be completed across multiple in-game days. You can learn much more about the story in-between contracts at the tavern and speaking with local folks, but I use the term speaking loosely, as there isn’t any conversation per se. You’ll need to read the conversation between your mercenary and the interlocutor.
Through conquering castles, players can also find helpful items such as armors, weapons, books, among others. Books can be used to improve various skills of the soldiers at their disposal; such as defense, attack, intelligence just to name a few. Very much helpful as the more play, the harder the battles can get. Ending up alone against an army is a no win situation. The game also requires a minimum of dedication, despite the helpful tutorials when you first start the game, in order to progress properly, you need to focus on the game and plan your strategy accordingly. It can be easy to forget certain mechanic after a while.
Nightmare mode, which is new to this remastered version of the game, puts a twist on the English vs French war. It adds a bit of a fantasy element by introducing monsters and dragons for you to slay. Story wise, it comes amidst the Thousand Years war, as the introduction of a new sinister enemy puts an unexpected end to the war by the appearance of waves of demons which destroys everything in their paths. What is actually pretty neat however is that you can carry over your character from your Thousand Years war playthrough, giving you a bit of an edge over the AI as you’ll have leveled up for quite sometime and you’ll start this new story line with a high level character.
The game looks ok. Omega Force and Koei didn’t do anything major in order to bring the visuals up to date as it still looks like a 2007 PS3/Xbox 360 game; so don’t expect to be wow’ed on that end. What is different is that they’ve increased the number of enemies on screen at once. Although you’ll come across armies mostly consisting of 10-15 soldiers, you’ll sometimes face off against double that number. Audio-wise, the game features an orchestral-esque suondtrack which suits the time period quite well. Most voiceovers are done pretty well; nothing too extraordinary and it does the job. However, the various actors who did the voiceovers you get to choose from for your mercenary is pretty weak. The Scottish one in particular doesn’t sound quite right.
Bladestorm: Nightmare is a great and diverse experience from what Dynasty Warriors is. It brings a bit of strategic flair to the DW formula which makes it fresh enough to feel like a new game. Unfortunately, it might not be for everyone. It requires a minimum of patience and dedication in order to play through it and get a better understanding of the 14th and 15th century story between the French and English. Players with enough time and dedication will find a hidden gem and a rewarding experience.
- Lots of replay value
- Huge amount of diverse armies
- Nightmare mode brings a fun twists
- Easy to get lost when there’s too many enemies
- Can get a bit overwhelming
- Traversing the land can be a bit boring
Bladestorm: Nightmare is rated T for Teen due to alcohol references, mild language and suggestive themes, violence.