Bladeslinger Ep.1

Selected as Editor's Choice in the App Store and rated 4/4 "Must Have" by critics, BLADESLINGER Episode 1 is a full-length game in an ongoing series.
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Bladeslinger Ep. 1 Review

Kerosene Games has accomplished something truly special with Bladeslinger. They’ve crafted an original, console-quality mobile action game that combines gunplay, hand-to-hand combat, stunning graphics, and a compelling story. Our main complaint about this demonic-themed Western is that it introduces us to a mysterious new hero, but falls short of letting us face down his final nemesis.

It’s for this reason that we’re glad this is only Episode 1, and not the full saga. Bladeslinger Ep. 1 begins with a bio-mechanical cowboy named William Glaston, who fights with a combination of a robotic left arm and a hybrid gun/sword on his hip. When he arrives off the train in Hammer’s Peak, he finds that the townsfolk have been transformed into horrific demons. William spends the first episode fighting through town to try to locate his brother, who may have some information about what misfortunes befell the town.

Fork it over.

Although the story is intriguing, most of the game is made up of combat encounters every few feet. You’re constantly bombarded by packs of demons, who drop in from the movie-backdrop scenery or appear behind boulders, throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails. William is uniquely equipped to handle them, and the game gives you multiple options for dispatching bad guys.

You can tap on a creature to fire your six-shooter, swipe with one finger to fillet them with your sword, or swipe with two fingers to deliver a mean, metallic left hook. To move, you can use one finger to run, two fingers to look around, or tap on the screen with two fingers to roll. It’s a remarkably polished control scheme that will rarely have you feeling boxed in or overwhelmed, since the camera locks on automatically to your targets. If enemies are standing off-camera, you can tap on icons on the side of the screen to bring them into view.

William can also perform a devastating finishing move when enemies are stunned. By punching them to initiate a rune-tracing minigame, you can cap off your assault with style. It’s just another fine detail that accentuates the constant action and keeps the gameplay feeling varied.

Real steel.

It won’t be long before you’re performing Devil May Cry-style acrobatics, which look gorgeous and run very smoothly. Bladeslinger might be the best-looking Unity Engine game we’ve played (on par with Dead Trigger), with incredibly detailed scenery and characters. The demonic runes around town give off an eerie glow, and you can see the detail in every tumbleweed or wooden beam.

When we previewed the game in the Canadian App Store, Bladeslinger was a free download, but with some unbalanced aspects. The rune shards that you had to collect were very rare, and upgrades were expensive. Now that the game is a paid download, the overall experience is much smoother, and you’ll upgrade William at a faster rate. This definitely helps cut down on the repetition in the game. Not only do you fight many of the same enemies again and again, but the game can be replayed on three different difficulty levels. Having constant access to new abilities prevents Bladeslinger from feeling monotonous.

Target acquired.

Despite the repetition, which is alleviated somewhat in this final version, Bladeslinger is an ideal combination of disparate ideas. Between the combat and storyline, the upgrades and action, Bladeslinger never fails to keep you moving forward with growing anticipation. Like the mutated bartender who you face in the second chapter, Bladeslinger takes a well-worn theme and distorts it into something thrilling and new. We can’t wait for the second episode to find out what happens next.

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Game of the Month, November 2012: Bladeslinger Ep. 1

Between the Presidential election, Thanksgiving, and hundreds of new iOS games, November has been a very eventful month. Angry Birds Star Wars may have been the talk of the turkey table at Thanksgiving, but it’s a stylish, Western-themed combat game that earns one of our site’s highest honors.

Our Game of the Month winner this November is Bladeslinger: Ep. 1, the first chapter in what we hope will continue to be an epic story. You play as a cowboy with a cybernetic arm and a gunblade, who arrives in his home town of Hammer’s Peak only to find that the townsfolk have been transformed into monsters. As you roam the streets trying to find your brother, you’ll have to slay monsters by slashing your sword, firing your gun, swinging an electrified haymaker, and powering up with magical abilities printed on playing cards.

Bladeslinger not only looks outstanding, with some of the Unity Engine graphics we’ve seen, but it also has a combat system that makes thoughtful use of your iOS device’s touchscreen. Your character levels up constantly over the course of five chapters, and you can replay the game on higher difficulties for further challenge. Some of the battles may start to feel repetitive after a while, but you can customize your character a great deal, so you can experiment with different combat styles.

Our runner-up for November’s Game of the Month is Knights of Pen & Paper, a creative RPG that recreates the feeling of gathering your friends together for a game of Dungeons & Dragons. Your character archetypes include nerds and jocks, and at any time you can pause the combat to grab some in-game chips and sodas, which act as stat boosts.

Knights of Pen & Paper is so meta, it hurts. The narration comes from a dungeon master, while other members of your party will make joking comments about the quality of his storytelling. Underneath the self-referential jokes, Knights of Pen & Paper is still an absorbing RPG on its own, with a simple combat system and a big, retro-styled world to explore.

Congratulations to Kerosene Games and Luma Arcade, the makers of Bladeslinger, and Behold Studios, the makers of Knights of Pen & Paper, for their outstanding games this month! Meanwhile, you should also check out these other Must Have iOS games that launched in November: Word Wonders: Tower of Babel, Heroes of Order & Chaos, March on Oz, ARC Squadron, Angry Birds Star Wars, Dream of Pixels, and iBomber Attack.

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