You probably haven’t heard of Blades of Time. Hell, before I walked into Konami’s booth today, I didn’t even know it existed… But after playing the brief demo, I immediately wanted more. Despite its generic name and near total absence of press coverage, Blades of Time has the potential to be one of the first truly great games to come out in 2012.
Do you remember Blinx? Oh wait, stupid question, of course you don’t. Well, here’s a brief history lesson: Blinx was the short-lived and quickly forgotten cat mascot for the original Xbox who’s big gimmick was that he could manipulate time in order to navigate his game’s platform based stages. Blades of Time employs a similar mechanic, except instead of using time travel to guide a cat up a series of floating platforms, the protagonist in Blades of Time uses time travel to brutally and mercilessly eviscerate her enemies.
The main character of the game, the pony-tailed Ayu, has all the moves you would expect from a character based action game: combos created by stringing together light and heavy attacks, blocks, parries and quick dodge moves, as well as special magic attacks that can only be used when you fill your special attack meter, etcetera. But she has one ability that separates her from the likes of Dante and Kratos: Ayu can travel backwards through time at will, allowing her to travel back in time a few seconds and then emerge to fight alongside herself from 10 seconds ago.
This unique ability adds a new layer of depth to the game’s combat. Players are effectively given the ability to double and triple team enemies by themselves through the use of creating temporal clones: hit an enemy with an attack that sends him flying, then rewind time and attack the same enemy at a different angle while your original self hits with the attack you inputted earlier.
Blades of Time’s time travelling mechanic seems confusing at first but within minutes I felt comfortable with using time travel to barrage enemies with multiple, Back to the Future style me-in-three-different-places combo attacks. Wrapping your head around the paradox inducing combat might be hard when you’re reading about it, but in practice its actually a lot more intuitive than it sounds.
Blades of Time was one of the pleasant surprises of this year’s E3, and I hope that when the game is released in early 2012 that it’ll get the attention deserving of its brilliant concept and its equally solid execution. This is definitely an upcoming release worth keeping an eye on.