So, for a little while there, the demo was actually pretty decent. The first thing that struck me was how beautiful the artstyle was. I'm terrible at describing this sort of thing, but one or two screenshots of the game should be enough to show how breathtaking many of the landscapes are. What's not so breathtaking are the bland, linear levels that you run through. You walk down what is little more than one long, same-looking corridor the whole time, and during combat every arena is the same round, dark blob with no obstacles or complexity in them. Meanwhile, the 2D platforming lacks any challenge whatsoever and you run through the same bland, simple levels.
On the other hand, the combat was decent, for a while. It was actually challenging, for one, and the whole counter system was actually sort of interesting and innovative despite being somewhat repetitive. The problem is that the combat is too shallow. For one, you only have a single attack button and a block and the only way to actually defeat enemies is to wait for them to attack, pull off a counter, steal their weapon, and proceed form there. For two, the demo only presents two weapons, a ranged weapon and a melee weapon, and from what I understand, the full game only presents one more weapon. It's also nearly impossible to break enemies from their guard without the counter move. You have only one guard break maneuver, which takes forever to pull off, and even if enemies whiff their attacks and you start a combo from there, they can start blocking mid-combo while you eat entire comboes off a single light strike. The game ends up whittling down to just a very basic counter-disarm-attack system.
Now, this isn't too big of a problem. Enemies are fairly aggressive and intelligent, meaning that the counters are never too easy like in Assassin's Creed's
terrible combat system. Fighting is actually fairly challenging and your timing needs to be exact to pull off the counter-disarmament chain. In short, the game feels like a poor man's Ninja Gaiden - I mean, if you took out all the air moves, comboes, guard breaks, and any semblance of strategy, that is. Yet, even with all that stripped away, the whole counter system is pretty solid.
However, on my second playthrough of the demo, I broke the game and ended up exposing its biggest flaw. Combat is hilariously unbalanced. The "normal" combat (i.e. the counter and disarmament combination) is actually pretty challening but once I found out that your special moves tear apart the enemy with little to no effort or skill necessary, it was all downhill form there. Basically, if you press the "attack" and "block" buttons simultaneously, your character pulls off a unique move for the weapon you have equipped. For the melee weapon, your character launches the enemy into the air, chains a few attacks in mid-air, and slashes enemy back to the floor. For the ranged weapon, your character creates a large barrier of arrows around him that strikes anything within its range. The problem here is that these special moves are overpowered. I spent the majority of my second playthrough time spamming the R1+square move until everything was dead, going basically untouched. Enemies are nearly defenseless in the air - and even the single enemy that shoots projectiles missed the majority of his shots while I was up there. The special moves render the counters useless and take away the only thing that made the fighting interesting.
To really top it all off, your character has a ton of health meaning that even if you do screw up, there's no real penalty for it. And when you die, you just mash on the attack buttons and come right back to life on the spot. The whole point of death in 3D brawlers is to give you a reason to play well lest you start over from way back when in the level. If you take that away, you take away a part of what makes these games exciting. It's THRILLING to get past a challenging piece of the level knowing that your skill took you there.
So with all this considered, the game comes off as incredibly bland. There's little to no incentive whatsoever to play skillfully in this game and it really just smacks of the dumbing-down of the genre (lol Ninja Gaiden 3).
Unless they introduce smarter, more aggressive enemies who can prevent special move spam, more depth to the fairly shallow counter-disarmament system, or stronger level design or challenge in the 2D platforming sections, I don't see myself playing this game. read