Within the Blade review for Xbox Series X
We started the week with ninjas and demons. Today I want to bring you the analysis of Within the Blade, by Ratalaïka games. A curious game that brings us an experience of the past, as well as flirtations with other well-known works in 3D. Plus, while it’s not a particularly long game, it’s hard on its standard difficulty (at least for me), as well as an affordable option on easy and a challenge for teachers on permanent death. Without further ado, I will explain to you what this pixelated work offers us.
Within the Blade puts us in the shoes of a ninja of the clan of the black lotus. The time he has lived is mired in war and an unstable shogunate. Faced with this situation, one of the most powerful men of the moment signs a pact to achieve demonic power beyond imagination and the whole country cries out for itself. In this way, our hero is involved in a supernatural war to save humanity itself. It’s hard to say more without revealing the hot spots of this plot. It’s not that it’s an Oscar play, but there are some surprising changes of pace and twists. The whole campaign is told in text-based conversations, accompanied by the occasional partially animated scenes where we get to know the new locations and an enemy.
Visually, we are faced with the typical pixelart title. So, scenarios and characters are designed like a hammam, while the animations try to compress each frame. On the other hand, we can take advantage of visual techniques already known such as parallax to animate the scenarios. In addition, the design of these is side scrolling, although verticality is still present. It’s not in vain that we play in the shoes of a ninja, so jumping, climbing walls or bouncing between them is part of the experience. To progress through the levels and avoid damage, it is essential to master parkour with tabi boots.
The levels aren’t just about running from start to finish. To overcome the different phases, we will have to take over various missions. It is true that many levels will only ask to go from A to B. However, A and B may not be at the beginning and the end, but hidden by a vertical maze. To further complicate the situation, we will need keys to open the accesses, as well as finding specific allies or enemies to overcome the mission. In addition, each scenario offers a series of bonus objectives. Not to be detected more than a specific number of times, to avoid being “set on fire” (literally). Each zone has its own rules.
To deal with these phases we have the typical ninja arts, see: katana, shuriken, kunai, various bombs, thistles and other tools and weapons more. The variety is quite wide, although they are of limited use. Even the sword, or the weapon we use, breaks after use. But don’t worry, we can find weapons and items that break the scene or take out enemies. Also, in the village of the black lotus, it is possible to buy supplies or even make them ourselves. It is important to be well equipped to survive the adventure.
If we visit our house, in the village, we can access the inventory and the manufacturing system. I guess it’s possible to discover recipes by combining items while crafting them, but I didn’t get it. Luckily, shops around town sell designs for crafting items, so all you need to do is collect some cash. The creative system is not particularly difficult. A sword requires metal, a hilt, and nothing else. The key is that the inverted metal and the handle can be bronze or iron. Thus, depending on the base materials applied, the better the resulting object will be. Which leads to better stats, as well as better duration.
Family fight in the shadows
The combat system is simple, melee attacks, throwing tools, blocking … But the thing widens as we advance in phases. After each section passed, if we return to the village dojo, the sage suggests learn new skills or permanent improvements. This way we go from jumping to double jumping, we learn to dodge, we improve our damage or our health, and we even improve our mastery of the katana and other weapons. It’s a simple tree system, but it is quite effective if you choose the upgrades wisely.
The scenarios offer quite varied enemies with which to test our skills. From ninjas to samurai to various demons, each enemy performs their own attacks and reacts to us differently. Sometimes it’s important to remember that we are ninjas, and to take advantage of the enemy’s back to take them out in one fell swoop. If the stealth fails then it has been said to distribute it. It must be remembered that we don’t have superhuman abilities, so we have to attack with the head
The climax of the fight manifests in the boss clashes. In each phase, we will face each other against a demon. This one has its own layout, its own stage, and its own set of moves. Some require looking for a specific weak point, while others require precision in each shot. In some showdowns, it wasn’t clear to me if the design was so good that if you found out about the specific tool, you would effortlessly win; or if, on the contrary, when using certain tools, you break the planned patterns and eliminate the bosses without actually facing them. My advice is that you try all the tactics at hand when you reach out to a boss.
Finally, Within the Blade is an interesting 2D ninja fighting platformer game. While the scenarios can be somewhat repetitive and some sections can be tedious due to the maze effect, the overall experience is positive. The part that is perhaps the most questionable is the weird hit box which has a few bosses. Although if we can’t strike the sword, there is always a good repertoire of ninja tools to tinker with in every situation.
In the blade
- Variety of missions
- Clashes against the original bosses
- Provide an adaptable challenge
- Enemies with very different behaviors
- The menus are not practical
- Scenarios tend to repeat aesthetics a lot