After a somewhat atypical year in terms of the pace of announcements in the middle due to the absence of E3, Gamescom 2022 has emerged as a magnificent event that has left us with a calendar full of titles to keep track of. This week we were able to go to the 505 Games offices in Madrid to try out some of the titles they showed at this year’s Gamescom. We tell you what we thought of these very different proposals.
Stray Blade is an Action RPG developed by the German team of Point Blank Games under the wing of 505 Games. It is estimated that its launch will take place throughout the year 2023 on PS5, Xbox Series X / S and PC. We were able to play Stray Blade for about an hour., so I had plenty of time to try out some of its main mechanics. For starters, it reminded me a lot (in a positive way) of one of my favorite PS3 games, which also recently got a solid remaster: Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
In Stray Blade we will be placed in the fantasy world of Acrea, also known as The Lost Valley, a territory where the vestiges of an ancient civilization lie. We manage an adventurer or adventurer who decides to go deep to unravel the mysteries that this land hides. Nevertheless, as soon as we find Acrea, we die… Or, at least, it seems. We resurrect with a strange stone embedded in our chest; It keeps us alive, but it also ties us to Acrea in some way. If we want to find a way to get out alive, we will have to unravel the history that it hides by exploring its ruins. We will not be alone: a mysterious being called Boji will accompany us. He will be in charge of guiding us, helping us craft new equipment or recover our remains when we are defeated, among other things. We had the opportunity to see an interview with the developers; In it, the narrative director of the title was enormously satisfied with the relationship and dynamics that Boji and our protagonist will show on his journey. In the demo we did not have the opportunity to see them interact, so we cannot assess this section at the moment. What we can verify is the great importance that the game dedicates to the exploration of its worldsomething that those responsible also highlighted.
On the one hand, the kingdom of Acrea hides archaeological remains, constructions and notes that will allow us to reconstruct its history; In principle, it does not seem that it will stray too far from the premise of many souls-like of rebuild the trajectory of a disgraced kingdom. However, the fact that we strive to go to the last corner of its areas will have an incentive on a mechanical level.
Stray Blade features a very familiar combat system, with its light and heavy attacks, stamina bar and a button to protect yourself or parry. The special touch to complete this combat system is the progression of our character, which will develop in an atypical way: finding new plans for weapons and armor, crafting and mastering them will be the main way to expand our skill tree. We will gain experience with which we will level up and we will be able to increase certain stats, but the key to improving lies in finding and trying new weapons; As we use them, our handling of them will improve, and at a certain point, not only special attacks and other characteristics will be unlocked, but also new slots in the skill tree.
Thus, exploration is encouraged to find new pieces of equipment, as well as the elements to craft them, and enrich their fun confrontations, but also as a way to evolve our character; This system also favors experimentation with the different weapons, something very much appreciated in these proposals. In the demo we were able to fight with two types of sword and a spear with a shield, with a lot of difference between the different types of weapons. We also face different types of enemies; the stronger ones forced me to try other approaches and combinations, but without being too punitive at the moment. It is true that the overall finish of the game still seemed to denote a relatively early stage of development. That’s why I was surprised to see how well the fights worked. Without offering (for now) anything new in this section, the fights were fast, challenging and fun, having several moments in which the operation of the hitboxes was put to the test, which responded in an unexpectedly satisfactory way. It could be a game that will give fans of this type of gameplay a lot of joy once we face more advanced enemies and see more types of weapons.
This way of gaining experience was a section that reminded me of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, but it is not the only thing that brings me back to the work of RA Salvatore: his world and his artistic section are very indebted to that type of fantasy, or to the least that has been transmitted to me in this first contact.
Lastly, there was another interesting feature that I didn’t get to see, but that looks like it will be very important in its final version, and that is how the world of Acrea is in constant motion, even when we die. When we are resurrected, not only will the time have changed, but the world may present changes, just like if we return to areas that we thought we had already overcome. Our actions will bring consequences (or other challenges) to the world, so death is presented as a source of variety for the whole experience.
In short, fans of Action RPGs and medieval fantasy worlds have in Stray Blade an interesting and promising project to be aware of.