The first time we saw Stray Blade we had the feeling it was a really ambitious title, after having tried it we are sure.
Since its introduction, Stray Blade has seemed like an ambitious game to us. And ambition, it seems to be leading Point Blank Games on the right track. During this spring, we had already had the opportunity to attend a presentation of Stray Blade, which we obviously recommend you to catch up on this link. To summarize a lot, Point Blank’s action fantasy RPG is supported by three fundamental pillars: the exploration of the vast game world, necessary to collect objects useful for crafting, a very technical and deep combat system given by the vast arsenal to player disposition, and finally a dynamic game world management system.
Despite our intense Stray Blade test at the booth of the publisher 505 Games at Gamescom 5055, we cannot be confident with all the elements that make up this interesting action RPG, but we have certainly had the opportunity to remove a couple of doubts.
The realm in which Stray Blade is set is there Acrea Valley, which will clearly be characterized by various areas all different from each other. The portion of the map explored during our test was a clearing developed in height: a main clearing served as a gaming hub, complete with a prayer temple from which one rises after each death. A path between the rocks led to an elevated hill; from there we proceeded through a couple of camps to reach a more fortified one near a bridge. If from an artistic point of view the portion of the map explored did not make us cry for a miracle, remaining pleasing to the eye but somewhat anonymous in the characterization of environments and wildlife, the reaction to the great variety of plants, flowers, was different. metals and other items that can be found in the game world. Every single element collected will be a valid ingredient to create recipes but above all to create equipment.
An important element of the scenario is its ability to change and never remain static. The mechanism underlying the rebirth of the protagonist (or of the, you can choose whether to play with a male or female character) is a curse that binds his soul to the Acrea Valley. When you die, as mentioned, you come back to life at the last activated temple, but the process is not instantaneous. It will take some time for the magic to rebuild the protagonist’s limbs and, in the meantime, several things could happen in the world. For example, it could be night when our hero awakens, or a camp could have fallen into the hands of an enemy faction, occupied by ferocious beasts, or simply abandoned.
Arsenal and weapons
The peculiarity of Stray Blade, however, is not noticed so much while exploring the map, but when opening the game menu. As we told you in our preview, this RPG lacks something quite typical of the genre: the character class. Forget knights, assassins or barbarians, the inventory will make the difference. Stray Blade’s weapon menu is remarkable: 35 weapons including swords, spears, shields, knives, heavy weapons and much more. By successfully completing the fights you earn experience points, which turn into skill points once you reach the maximum cap. These points must be spent for passive advantages (the classic more life points, more stamina points and so on), or to upgrade weapons, a process not so immediate.
In fact, each weapon in the inventory has about three different mastery levels, unlockable using the weapon in combat. When 100% of mastery with a weapon, only then can you invest a skill point to acquire the weapon’s unique weapon art.
Given the very long weapon leveling process, a thirty minute test at the fair certainly wasn’t enough to dissect the whole upgrade system, but according to the 505 guys who guided us in the test, the mechanism is approximately this.
Quite interesting, because taking classes from an RPG and pouring all the building component of the build on weapons is as fascinating as it is risky. Weapons which, moreover, must be built at the blacksmith’s forge. No weapon in Stray Blade will be left as enemy loot, nor will it be the reward of any particular trial. To get hold of a weapon, his is to be found project reference, collected the necessary materials and finally built. Then used up to the maximum level of mastery and completed with the expenditure of a skill point to unlock the weapon art … counting that the weapons are 35, there is a lot of work to do.
All this variety of weapons is clearly enjoyed during the phases of combat, in which Stray Blade maintains a rather conservative nature, but in a positive way. The combat system is configured like that of a traditional souls-like in terms of moves: a light attack, a heavy attack, a parry if equipped with a shield, a counterattack and a dodge are all executable actions from our hero.
To accompany the actions, an indicator of life and one of stamina. What surprised us was the functioning of the latter, much closer in philosophy to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and its opponent’s imbalance system. We will consume stamina not to attack and roll, but every time the protagonist absorbs an enemy blow; in the case of an unsaved direct hit, the gauge will be emptied more than a parry or counterattack. This is as true for us as it is for the enemies, who once exhausted will fall to our mercy and can be killed instantly with a special execution.
The hand-to-hand combat is also joined by the little help given by Boji, the co-star of Stray Blade. Halfway between a leprechaun and a very angry koala, Boji is a precious ally, who can be summoned into battle with the press of a button. When summoned, the sprite will launch a ranged attack, very useful for distracting enemies or disrupting otherwise chained combos. It can be used for up to four or five times, only to exhaust his magic. Boji’s spells are also tied to an indicator, and as such he can be upgraded with skill points such as the protagonist’s life and stamina.
To balance a very dry fight, in which for example there is no jump attack but only the few actions mentioned above, the developers have decided to make the window of the attack time. After approaching the game with extreme lightness and lightheartedness, we immediately realized that Stray Blade is not joking at all. The timing with which to attack, counter, and dodge is surgical, with very narrow reaction windows. Responsive, lightning fast and accurate to the millisecond, this combat system will make many players happy; with all the weapons available in the arsenal, putting this aspect of the game under stress will be very interesting!
Stray Blade continues to seem like an ambitious game to us, but having tried it during Gamescom 2022 reassured us. We have not said it but we inform you at the end of this tried: the alpha version of the test was not very clean graphically speaking, but as mentioned, it was still an alpha. With this variable out of the equation, Stray Blade seemed like a game that aims high with some awareness. No class stats, only general passive skills can be improved. More life, more stamina and more magic for Boji. To build the RPG system verse of the title is the inventory and the management of the weapons; the really not very indulgent combat system closes the circle of what promises, if the promises are kept, a really interesting experience.
- No classes, just weapons
- Precise combat system
- How much does the game world change, really?
- With 35 weapons, the quality of all movesets will be assessed
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Stray Blade: Proven of a really ambitious RPG
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