Koei Tecmo’s Bladestorm was an interesting take on strategy games, and despite not blowing the world away when it released in 2007, it did manage to earn itself a loyal fanbase. Since its release, fans have been eagerly awaiting Koei Tecmo and Omega Force to revisit the franchise, whether it be a sequel or a reboot. Their cries were heard, and almost 8 years later, Koei Tecmo have published ‘Bladestorm Nightmare’ a pseudo-reboot of the franchise.
I say “pseudo” because quite frankly, it’s not an exact reboot of the franchise. Gameplay largely remains identical, the story and its delivery are identical, and (perhaps most disappointing) the graphics and visuals are entirely sub-par for a game released this far into the current-generation. If Bladestorm fans are absolutely stinging for an almost identical experience to the original (and for the record I do know some) then they will be delighted. Anyone else hoping for a more in-depth story or campaign, better graphics, or expanded gameplay will be sorely disappointed.
In case you haven’t played or even heard of the original Bladestorm, allow me to introduce you to it. Bladestorm and Bladestorm Nightmare casts the players as mercenaries-for-hire during the Hundred Years’ War, a conflict that took place between the House of Plantagenet, rulers of the Kingdom of England and the House of Valois, who ruled the Kingdom of France. Unlike Omega Force’s Dynasty Warriors series, Bladestorm Nightmare fails to deliver a compelling story that both retells historical events while providing a chaotic but fun experience for the player.
When the game begins, the player is shown the ropes by an NPC (non-player character) mercenary. Though he does an adequate job of introducing the player to the gameplay of Bladestorm Nightmare, players could be forgiven for not knowing what the heck they should be doing, or even what the heck is going on. Both enemy and friendly units are strikingly similar in appearance, the A.I. Is inconsistent and sloppy, and even the contracts themselves can be hard to follow. Simply put, Bladestorm Nightmare teaches the players the absolute basics of gameplay, then boots them out the door into a very confusing world.
Between missions, players hang out in taverns, where they can undertake various contracts for the kingdoms of France and/or England, listen to gossip, upgrade and acquire units, and other things. Due to the game once again not being as helpful as it should be, it is entirely possible for the player to spend money and experience on units that they will have no use for, or will have difficulty using. Your best bet really is to get used to using Pikemen and Cavalry as the beginning few battles see them holding an advantage in battle. I made the mistake of using swordsmen, and finding myself at a constant disadvantage.
During missions, gameplay is a mix of hack and slash games like Dynasty Warriors and an RTS, though in my honest opinion, it feels disjointed and not at all fluid. This is because players will control a whole squad, with that squad attacking enemies in synchronisation with each other. While executing a special move or technique can feel absolutely exhilarating, normal attacks look absolutely ridiculous as the player’s character will slash an opponent, then wait three to four seconds before attacking again. I know that this is a very different game from the Dynasty Warriors franchise with a very different intent from Omega Force, but surely allowing the player to fight on their own the then in formation as needed would have been better?
Your goal on the battlefield is to clear enemy bases and overthrow them. This is done by killing enough soldiers until the base commander shows up, and trust me, you’ll know when they do – they’re a ridiculous size, I’d guess about 10 feet tall. When I first encountered them I thought they were a glitch, or perhaps temporarily overpowered and that’s why they were enormous on screen. They’re not, they are merely a silly and dated piece of game design.
Now while the game is far from what it should be in almost every way, there are moments where you can find yourself hooked. It’s impossible to hate Bladestorm Nightmare when your unit of 15+ swordsmen annihilate a force that outnumbers yours 5 to 1, it’s for this reason that I would recommend Bladestorm Nightmare to fans of the original Bladestorm.
Bladestorm Nightmare is a game that I desperately wanted to love. The 2007 Bladestorm held great potential, though everything here is recycled, without any innovation or improvements at all. Considering Dynasty Warriors has bounced back from mediocrity to deliver some of the strongest games in the franchise’s history as of late, one would expect a similar dramatic improvement of Bladestorm with Bladestorm Nightmare. Unfortunately, nothing is new here, and what’s old is broken, tired or simply not fun.