Ready for Rage? An indie title currently vying for votes, Blade of Rage is a throwback to RPG’s of a bygone era, but with a few slick surprises. If you remember hours of play time with the early Final Fantasy titles or got down in the dark place with Avernum: Escape from the Pit, then you’re the target audience. Your main character is a spell-sword called Rage the Blade, and alongside his travel companions, Gudu the Groundbreaker and Vespa the Viperess, you get some serious slaying going on. I’ve just played through the alpha demo and I’m ready to grab a handful of steel and start Ragin’!
After contacting the sole developer, “Lone Wolf” Don, I downloaded the alpha demo and got playing. A few minor adjustments for my personal play-style and I was off to Oswar. Now, if you go into this adventure expecting the standard fantasy RPG romp, you’ve got another thing coming. I went up against my first few foes and nearly got my ass handed to me. So up front this game has you on your toes. Not to mention, the enemies can take a beating. At first I thought “Oh, shit! How am I supposed to win this?” but then I got a handle on the abilities of my team mates and started laying my foes out. Immediately I was taken back to that “front lines” fantasy rpg feeling. I was Rage, a spell-sword issuing orders to each of his comrades. And that is how it feels. Every fight, every time; you are thrown into a dire struggle against vicious monsters hell-bent on your destruction. If you attack when you should have blocked or used a Cureall potion when you should’ve cast cure, you’re going to feel it. If not sooner, then later.
One of the features of this game is the ability for the player to choose whether to experience random encounters or not. Anyone who has played through Final Fantasy will know that when you are low on health, potions, money and mana, the last thing you want on the way to the inn is a horde of zombies harrying your escape. This toggle feature allows you to slip back to the inn for some much needed R & R. I know I needed it one or twice, and I am not afraid to say it saved my ass!
So, after taking shelter in a ruin, I was off to find the Stone’s Throw Inn, when I happened across a dwarf. I helped him out of his predicament and found another feature of the game that made me giddy. When you play a video game, you want to slip, if only for a minute, into the skin of another person. And I don’t know about you, but I want that someone to be considerably more badass than I am! That being said, Battle Action Response allows you to take full control of the fight rather than letting the computer roll out the results. So, when you dictate your fighter to take off someone’s head, you just tap the action key at the right time and you can get off a little extra damage and the increased chance of a critical hit. That might not sound all too crazy at first, but, trust me, when you start getting off critical hits and extra damage, you’ll feel the thrill of battle like you’re swinging the sword yourself.
Later on, my new travelling companion in tow, I was venturing through a dark and deadly forest. Suddenly some spiders jumped out at my crew and ate a deer that wandered onto the path. After laughing furiously, I realized that a battle was about to commence. Suddenly a bar appeared with a sliding sword icon. Recalling the game’s briefing on the Battle Advantage feature, I prepared for the fight. With Battle Advantage turned on, you can get a chance to attack first in the fight, as long as you can press the action key in time. Though my bellowing laughter left me slightly flat-footed, I was still able to secure that pre-emptive attack for my adventurers. It has little elements like this, which, when added to games, make for a more immersive and entertaining adventure for the player, and this game certainly has the player in mind.
Another surprising element in this game is the ability to fast travel, and for those of you rolling your eyes and saying something about “Elder Scrolls”, shut your damn mouth! Fast travel in this is quite different. A world map appears and you move your character from one place to the next rather than walking them through every twist and turn of the forest. Similar to the Final Fantasy world map travel when you have a Chocobo or an airship. And as in The Elder Scrolls, you’re unable to use this view to get to places you haven’t been yet, but once you’ve traveled there, it’s fair game.
Aside from that, the art for the game is enjoyably original, the animations are flashy and fun and the music had me jamming along at some points. In a boss battle the music started as the usual fight song but then the music died off after a bit. At first I thought it was just Alpha-tester’s blues, but then that shit came back and it was rowdy! I started jamming out as I dealt out heavy crits and killing blows. The background even started to oscillate a bit, adding a little more tension to a fight with a fearsome foe.
Games like this are a refreshing part of the indie gaming scene and are an example of why I love Steam. Steam via Steam Greenlight gives solo developers the opportunity to share retro-gaming experiences with fresh new stories in a format we’ve come to love and respect. Without Greenlight, a number of worthy experiences would never even have the chance to see daylight, and this is one I hope gets voted up into release. Granted, as an alpha demo, it isn’t without its issues, but there are more highly esteemed games with developing teams selling their games before they’re even finished. With one man spinning this thread before our very eyes, it’s clear that this game is a work of heart. Interested in learning more about Blade of Rage? Go to the Blade of Rage website or the Steam Greenlight BoR page and unleash your Rage!
Every gem has its flaws and there is one big flaw that I have to address here. I am violently opposed to the game’s treatment of Dwarfs! That’s right! Dwarfs! First off, this token-racial character isn’t even a full-fledged Dwarf! He’s a half-breed human-dwarf, not that there is anything wrong with racial mixing, but he spends the rest of the game trying to make up for that fact! He says ‘lad’ and ‘arse’ and even seems to worship a goddamn rock! Dwarfs might live and work and play underground, but worshipping rocks? Reminds me of a racially distinct first for a major game franchise involving animal slavery… Just call him a stunty, you rat bastard. Rage would be the name of my life, not just the name of a game!