Kingdom of Blades
Kingdom of Blades provides a fast action Fruit Ninja clone in PSVR with a couple different game modes and a simple plot. Although not the most complex of games, DeerVR created a fun little experience fit for all ages, VR experience and a good arm workout too.
Genre: Fruit Ninja Hack and Slash Clone
Controller: 2 move controllers
Game Length: 1.5-2 hours
PlayPSVR Score: 4
I try to be open to every type of game for the PSVR. With a growing fan base, the PSVR is welcoming to different genres, games for different audiences, and different styles of gameplay. So even when a game isn’t my cup of tea, I try to keep and open mind. However, “Kingdom of Blades”is different. I just can't get past “Kingdom of Blades,” and disappointing it is in concept and execution.
At first glance, one might mistake this game for “Fruit Ninja,” except for the fact that this game throws men at you instead of fruit. When I realized this I was greatly disappointed. After two years of reiterations and re-imaginings of traditional game design, this is what we end up with on the PSVR? In more ways than one, this feels like less of a VR game, and more like a mobile game. In remembering that we need all types of games, and that we need games for all types of gamers, I can't get over the fact that not only is this not an original idea, it's also tedious, cumbersome, and simply disappointing.
Before I rant too much, I'll actually discuss the game. It isn't all bad. The game’s setting takes place under the historical mythos of the Three Kingdoms era of China, when military generals with their devoted, cult-like following vie for power through romance, politics, and warfare. However, despite the reverence with which the subject matter is held in Chinese pop-culture, the game is presented in a cute, super-deformed style, with all the whimsy and silliness that brings. You play as a swordsman standing in an open area as a variety of enemies are hurled your way. Most of them just fly at you, and you defend yourself by cutting them in half with a variety of swords or by deflecting them with your shield. Each chapter is comprised of 4 different stages, culminating in a boss fight. It is a ridiculously simple game, albeit one for all ages, playable by anyone with 10 minutes of free time.
There are different game modes such as the single player campaign that follows the plot as you unlock new stages, enemies, and skills. There’s also a challenge mode with boss fights and endless waves of enemies. There is also a gacha style store in which you crack a giant egg for a chance to win new armor, weapons, or gold currency, highlighting the overall feeling of this game being a mobile adaptation. The currency can be traded in for advanced armor that absorbs some damage, or new weapons with special traits.
“Kingdom of Blades” has some attempts to break up the boredom and challenge the player. Boss fights are a welcome addition, and armor and weapon variations help to change-up the gameplay. You also unlock special attacks and abilities that can be charged up by killing enemies. These include slowing time down, using tiny archers that kill enemies, stealing health from enemies and releasing a lightning storm. These are a few aspects where the developers tried to add their own spin and to make the game different, and the attempt is appreciated.
Unfortunately, the game suffers where it attempts to succeed. The patterns that the enemies are thrown at you aren’t conducive to fun slashing gameplay. A couple of arcs are fun to slice through, but the patterns seem random, and aren’t designed to showcase the pleasure of broad, sweeping sword strikes in the way that a game like “Beat Saber” would. Odd enemy patterns left me flailing rather than fighting. The boss battles were also boring and confusing. It’s difficult to determine when and why you are taking damage, turning the entire encounter into a sprint of frantic sword waving in an attempt to damage the boss as quickly as possible before the inconsistent hit detection drains your health. And although there are different attack patterns, there’s no apparent strategy required to defeat bosses other than spamming attacks. The spammy sprint would at least be more enjoyable if the weapon variety added to the gameplay, but here I ran into troubles as well. At one point, I unlocked a two-handed spear that would deal greater damage. Unfortunately, the nature of the two-handed weapon required awkward positioning of the Moves, making slashes inaccurate and difficult to quickly perform. In a hilariously frustrating twist, the two-handed weapons made the game’s menu nearly impossible to navigate. By trying to point the controller at other weapons in order to exchange, I often inadvertently sliced menu boxes, throwing me into option menus or gacha games.
In the end, the game just simply isn't much fun. These little quirky cheap games can be okay if they are unique, quick, and fun to play (I’m thinking of “Starbear Taxi”) but this one is just tiresome and frustrating. It's a blatant ripoff of “Fruit Ninja,” and its worn out its welcome after about 20 minutes.
It’s surprising that DeerVR went from “Code51: Mech Arena,” a decent but fun mech-battle game to this, an apparent cash-grab. While this game is mechanically sound, with no glitches, clean graphics, and consistent tracking, it's just not an enjoyable concept. Why make this game when “Fruit Ninja VR” does the same thing, but better?
As I mentioned early, the game might be good for younger kids who want to play VR, as it is a quick and easy game to play. It probably has around 2 hours’ worth of enjoyable content in it, and for $10, that isn't horrible time/cost ratio. However, I honestly would not purchase the game for more than $5.
“Kingdom of Blades” is still a fun little take on the “Fruit Ninja” formula, but the simple game play, lack of depth, and the fact there isn't a new idea leaves me scratching my head. I really can't recommend the game unless you have a young child who wants a quick bout of playtime or just absolutely loved “Fruit Ninja VR.” Enjoy this little game for what it is, but let's hope the developers out there, including DeerVR, have a lot more in store for PSVR this year.