Make the Clock Reverse
If you asked me to describe, in one sentence, what AeternoBlade is all about, nothing about the gameplay would ever stand out. All I could say is, “It’s a game about a girl who wants revenge and has a blade that can wind back time.” Even then, that’s a fairly wordy sentence.
AeternoBlade is an action-packed light Metroidvania that has just made its way to the Nintendo Switch. Do the various combos, backtracking, and overall plot make it shine among other indie hits on the console? Or will it get buried with the bottom of the heap?
Insert Generic Plot Here
AeternoBlade starts out with a plot that we’ve all seen before. We follow the adventures of Freyja, whose town has just been destroyed by the demon Beladim. Along the way, her entire family was killed too. As such, she makes it her life’s goal to seek vengeance against the monster who ruined her life. Cue action game.
There are several times throughout the game where it tries to make you feel what Freyja is feeling, but it never comes across as genuine. Not only is the dialogue very cut and dry, but it never gives itself the authenticity that it so desperately tries to emulate.
Freyja isn’t the only person along for the ride, though. She’ll meet other characters like the interdimensional witch named Vernia, and some random guy who list his sister named Zevil. On this note, it’s worth mentioning that the names in this game are downright weird. They don’t roll off the tongue nicely, and they look awkward to read as well. In that sense, it fits perfectly with the dialogue.
AeternoBlade is a smaller take on a Metroidvania game. It’s set up into various levels that can each be explored to your heart’s content. Within each level, you’ll face several foes, blow through a few puzzles, find hidden items, and fight a boss. It’s a fairly standard affair, but it’s how the game handles most of these aspects where I started to get a little confused.
The AI in this game is downright brainless. You could blast through a level, never get a single upgrade, and still manage to take down all of the enemies without dying. They’re that easy to defeat. Most of them recoil when you strike them, so you just have to keep pressing “Y” until they fall over.
The puzzles are a combination of good and bad. In the beginning of the game, they’re every bit as mindless as the foes you face. Later in the game, though, they’re quite fun when making use of the central mechanic of AeternoBlade.
The bosses are where this game starts to make a name for itself. They’re all varied and require a great deal of skill to beat. What dampens their unique design is that, sometimes, they’re much too hard in comparison to the rest of the game. One moment, you’ll be breezing through hordes of enemies, and the next, you’ll get your butt handed to you by a demon lord.
AeternoBlade does some things right, but I have to address my biggest complaint with the game: it never knows what it wants to be. You have a mechanic that can rewind time to solve puzzles and give you some health back. You have a level up system for your stats, an item system to beef your stats even more, a combo system that isn’t fully utilized because of how stupid the AI is, and a few more.
Throughout the game, AeternoBlade felt like it was trying to find its stride and, as a result, never fully delivered on any one of its mechanics or ideas.
Making matters worse, I should point out that the visuals are fairly ugly as well. Character dialogue shows no liveliness, and the graphics (while HD) are still bogged down by a criminally low polygon count. I understand the game came out on 3DS first, but I would’ve liked to see more effort to fitting the visuals on the Switch.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Aeternoblade was provided by Corecell.