Whenever you want to play something on your phone or generally on the go, you don’t want a complicated story or gameplay mechanics which could easily be interrupted by another person on the bus or anything that comes up. You want to play something that’s quick fun and doesn’t involve deep concentration to achieve that fun. You want smooth animations, gameplay and overall a smooth experience that won’t turn you off by crashes or bugs while you’re in a place with nothing else to do. Clearly, Com2uS are very aware of this since that’s exactly what their latest action game, Third Blade, has to offer.
Third Blade is a 2D side-scroller hack & slash game available right now on the Android Market and App Store. It’s currently at $2.99 at the App Store but completely free on the Android Market. Not sure if it’s a temporary offer to promote the release on the Android Market, which was just a few days ago. We’ve contacted Com2uS for a comment on the pricing, but we’ve not received a reply at the time of the review.
The game starts off with a very nice cinematic which shows your main character chilling in a forest with a girl, which we’ll presume is his girlfriend. Suddenly, some strange Muk-looking creatures appear out of the woods and kidnap your beautiful girlfriend. What happens next is kind of obvious; he goes out for payback and to get this girl back.
You’re then immediately greeted with a beautiful looking game, with smooth animations as soon as you rotate the virtual analog stick to move your character and virtual action buttons to attack the little buggers around the woods. Graphics are anime-style graphics with very sweet special effects when you swing your blades or when bugs spit on you. Special attacks and moves look very nice on the screen and will give you a sense of power you’ll fall in love with.
As you cycle through new stages you’ll notice sometimes the background changes and some of the enemies, too. Which is all good until you start seeing the same enemies mixed in the stages, which also have very similar backgrounds every now and then. But that’s all to be expected since they’re in the woods in only one universe. You can’t expect a new creature and different looking place to pop up every 5 minutes. Besides the regular stages, the game will occasionally throw in a bonus level labeled as a “dungeon”. I was really stoked the first time I saw one, but quickly was turned off after I noticed it’s exactly the same concept as a regular level, just with the dungeon name on it.
The music, sound and overall audio add up pretty nicely to the presentation and at the same time make up for an absolute better gameplay experience (read below). From the blades slashing through your enemies, the footsteps and the background music, the game would surely not be the same with poorer effects.
Gameplay mechanics in Third Blade are fairly simple but they certainly do the job and this, in my opinion, is where the game shines. Like I said, a perfect mobile game needs to be good but simple and needs to show the fun right out of the box. This is exactly what Third Blade does.
Third Blade is a side-scroller hack & slash action game. All you do here is move, slash through waves of enemies to find a boss at the end of the level (which is always an oversized enemy of those you see around the stage with some special ability), you kill the boss, pass to the next stage and repeat. It sounds very simple and repetitive, and I must say it is, but with all the little details you’ll have plenty of fun and you probably won’t even notice or care about the repetition.
On the bottom left side of the screen you’ll see a huge virtual analog button, which in my opinion takes too much space on the screen and should be way smaller or at least slimmed down by removing the brown circle around it. Anyway, this analog helps you move your character around the stage and I must say it works and responds very smoothly even though it’s so big. On the other side, you’ll initially find the attack button, which you touch to do regular attacks.
Once you start progressing through the game, you’ll start earning coins which you can use to upgrade your weapons, armor and buy special items like potions or even new special attacks. When you buy a special attack, you’ll see a new icon linked to that attack around the attack button. As you can see in the image above, I had 3 special attacks for the selected weapon at the time. Yes, I said each for every weapon. That means there’s more than 1 weapon in the game. You start with 3 blades; a normal katana style blade for regular attacks, a huge two-handed blade for heavy attacks, and two tiny daggers for speedy moves. Each weapon can be upgraded for better combat abilities and each weapon packs different special moves which you can buy, as mentioned above.
The armor can also be upgraded, but I was disappointed to gather so many coins to upgrade to the great armor that it seemed to be in the preview thumbnail before buying it and later find out the armor upgrade won’t show up on your character and you’ll always look the same, unlike the weapons.
Third Blade is a simple action game with on-the-go gaming as a priority. You’ll surely have buckets of fun if you like this type of fantasy games with swords and a lot of enemies to kill. It is definitely not a perfect game and has many areas it could improve on but it’s not a game you should miss for the current price tag on the Android Market (FREE!). Luckily it’s on the Android Market so it’s bound to receive updates and patches through time that might improve the performance, address some of the issues and even add new content eventually.
Check out the gallery for an idea of the combat system, setting and upgrade menus.