Bladestorm: Nightmare Review
Bladestorm: Nightmare is a remaster of Bladestorm: The Hundred Years’ War, a unique hack ‘n’ slash/ RTS title that released on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2007. Koei Tecmo has revamped the game with an all new “Nightmare” campaign, featuring magical elements and mythical monsters, as well as slightly upgraded graphics from its previous iteration.
Battling through one of history’s most famous wars against an evil Joan of Arc and her army of wizards, skeletons and dragons sounds fun on paper. However, the game’s lackluster mechanics, slow, monotonous gameplay and extremely drab visuals ensure that the idea does not live up to its full potential. It feels as though hardly any development time was spent on bringing Bladestorm: Nightmare up to today’s standards.
In Bladestorm: Nightmare, you play as a mercenary in the battle between the French and the English, choosing whichever side you wish. After creating your mercenary in the rather robust character creation suite, you’re thrown into your first battle and walked through a (very necessary) tutorial. While Bladestorm: Nightmare is similar in many ways to the Dynasty Warriors series, they have many differences – the most obvious of which is that you are no longer a lone warrior slaying thousands of opponents on the battlefield. Rather, you need to lead groups of mercenaries into battle, working as a team to overcome the odds and take control of the battlefield.
There are various squadrons that you can control in Bladestorm: Nightmare, including sword-wielding foot soldiers, long-range archers and troops on horseback. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages, and learning the pros and cons of each will help you understand which squadron would be best equipped to take down each enemy unit. When you first begin the campaign, you’ll need to constantly switch between squadrons to make any progress, but as you defeat enemies the squadrons will level up, giving them more usefulness across a variety of situations and enemy types.
The gameplay in Bladestorm: Nightmare is painfully dull most of the time. The battlefield maps are huge, and your troops move through them at an extremely slow pace. You’ll spend an eternity crawling your way towards an enemy compound, only to arrive and discover your squadron isn’t the right one for the job. Which means you’ll have to double back to the start and retrieve the proper unit and make that lovely voyage all over again. Once you have the right group, you hold down the right bumper and your unit attacks automatically until the enemy troops are dead. You can throw in a few special attacks which have extensive cool down periods, which are useful against the minibosses. Rinse and repeat until you’ve captured all enemy territories, while defending your own bases.
Bladestorm: Nightmare houses both the original game from 2007 as well as the new scenario. New features include online coop and “zapping” between multiple mercenary commanders on the battlefield, both of which help quite a bit in make the lengthy bouts feel more exciting. I can’t even imagine how excruciating the gameplay must have been in the original without these features, as even on horseback you’re looking at 2-3 minutes of traveling through ugly countryside before engaging in combat once more. Even the excitement of swapping between units is negated by the fact that you’ll hardly ever need to switch between them, since the enemy AI is lacking to say the least.
As a fan of the Dynasty Warriors series who had never played the original, I didn’t really know what to expect from Bladestorm: Nightmare. While I appreciate Omega Force taking the time to add in some interesting ideas and additional gameplay for this remaster, there is no additional polish or graphical upgrade to speak of. Warriors fans will likely be turned off by the game’s slow pace, and RTS fans will probably find it a bit too simplistic. The product just feels incredibly dated, but if you’re a fan of the genre and/or the original game, then feel free to give it a shot.