By Chris Melchin / September 7th, 2016
Most of the games present at PAX are either games that haven’t been released yet, or games with new versions of major DLC releasing in the near future. However, some games there have already been released. Blade Ballet by DreamSail Studios is one such game, the game about spinning robots. I’m oversimplifying, of course, but surprisingly not by a whole lot.
Blade Ballet is a multiplayer-only game for up to four players, where each takes control of a spinning, bladed robot to try and destroy everyone else. Objectives don’t get much more complicated than that, aside from one mode which is basically soccer but with spinning, bladed robots. Gameplay is divided up into three modes: Robomination, which is a stock mode; Overclocked, which is a point-scoring mode; and Blade Ball, the aforementioned soccer mode. The modes are all pretty self-explanatory; kill other robots by spinning the sword sticking out the front of your robot into them, and either you get a point or they lose a life; or in soccer mode, use that sword to push the ball into the opponent’s net.
Robots generally attack by moving and spinning, and if their sword hits one of an opponent’s four shields it breaks that shield, and if it hits an opponent directly that opponent dies. Each of the ten robots sports a different special ability to use in battle, giving each a subtle unique feel to use. The gameplay is simple, but there is a layer of strategy to it, in planning your attacks in such a way that you protect your vulnerable areas as much as possible in order to gain the upper hand. The aesthetic design is simple to go with the gameplay, with lots of white and pastel colors in the environments to contrast the bright colors of the robots.
I also had a chance to speak with the dev team while playing. Apparently the idea for the game came about during PAX East one year, when a bug during another game caused a character to begin spinning around uncontrollably in place, at which point they saw it as an idea for a game mechanic. We also encountered an odd glitch during my session, where my character somehow duplicated itself, meaning that I was simultaneously controlling two of the same robot. The devs have no idea what caused it, since it happens so rarely – the only other occurrence they mentioned was while showing it off during EVO – but they told me that if they could, they’d like to try and see what causes it so they can make it into a mechanic.
Overall, the biggest problem I see with Blade Ballet is the limited choice of only three gameplay modes. There’s no singleplayer mode either, although there is online multiplayer, but this seems like a game best suited to local play. It is available on both Steam and PS4, so expect a full review of Blade Ballet coming in the near future.
Blade BalletDreamSail StudiosImpressionsPAXPAX West