|August 9, 2016(US)
|Shoot ’em up
|PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3
Caladrius Blaze is an ambitious title that dares to try and modernize a classic formula. Developed by M.O.S.S, who were responsible for the later Raiden titles, this is a shoot ’em up that tried to be a bit more cinematic and attempt to tell more of a story. While it gets an ‘A’ for effort, I wasn’t particularly impressed by the actual narrative… in game. However if you ordered the physical version with English subs, you get not one, but TWO manuals elaborating on the story!
Of course being a shmup means the most important aspect of the game is how much chaos you can deliver. Looking at it from this angle, this game does not disappoint. The amount of variety here is really great! To start out, you have three game modes: Original Mode, Evolution Mode and Arcade Mode. In each mode your character’s special attacks differ slightly and some of them feature alternate stages. You have eight different characters with one main shot and three unique elemental attacks that drain magic, which is gradually restored as you progress through the levels. Each character has their own motivations and storylines which means they all have unique dialogue scenes with each of the bosses. Lilith has the most amusing story as all she seemed to care about was putting her enemies in as much pain as possible. However my favorite character to play as was Sophia, as one of her attacks was a water shield that could block nearly every attack in the game, making boss fights much easier and more fair to deal with. Yes it’s quite overpowered, but that slight advantage is quite necessary in some parts of the game.
This brings me to my next point, the difficulty. This game is REALLY hard. I don’t think this was meant to be a bullet hell shooter but it sure feels like one at times. Unlike say a “Tate” or vertical cave shooter, Caladrius Blaze actually gives you a really wide playing field, meaning it takes longer for your ship to move across the screen and much more bullet fire can come on screen. There is also almost no slowdown so you REALLY need to be on your toes. No “slowdown manipulating” strategies hardcore fans sometimes like to perform will work here. The graphics, while passable, are very unimpressive. Everything just looks bland and not something that is really pushing the hardware. To me, this could have easily passed for a Dreamcast game. That said, the character art is where most of the attention to detail went to. They have very nice designs and have a lot of emotion to them.
One mechanic the game shamelessly throws in is a clothes ripping mechanic similar to Senran Kagura. Ironically called Shame Break, this happens if you take damage after collecting a certain amount of medals or after inflicting a certain amount of damage against a boss. While I did not mind it in the aforementioned title, I am not a huge fan of it here. This is a fast paced arcade style shooter with projectiles going all over the screen. The last thing I want is for character art to cut in to show me how endowed a character is in the midst of dodging attacks. It’s incredibly distracting and said artwork even covers some of the bullets at times, which can lead to some frustrating deaths, especially since the bullets do not disappear during these segments so you really need to focus on the bigger prize if you want to survive! Apparently losing clothes and suffering a Shame Break powers your character up and they do slightly more damage, but I was never able to notice a significant difference.
For those of you who would consider the Shame Breaks to be a selling point, you’re in luck. You actually get trophies for viewing all of a character’s Shame Breaks. In addition to this, the game features a Gallery Mode for you to view all of these Shame Breaks and any unlockable artwork. There is also an option for “no damage” meaning none of the bullets will damage you, allowing you to just steamroll through the game and unlock all of the pictures you want! Clearing a level without losing a life will grant you a special bonus image at the end of the level. You can also level your weapons up and make them very powerful based on how often you use them. Depending on the mode you play you could run into some bonus chapters where you have to destroy a certain percentage of enemies before they reach the top or bottom of the screen. These segments were surprisingly addictive and were different enough from the actual level to feel fresh and engaging. When you clear the game, you will be able to fully customize each character and give them any special attack you want. This is awesome as it allows you to make the game as easy or as difficult as you want. The music accompanying all the gameplay is pretty sweet though disappointingly, the boss theme is a bit dull in comparison to the great level themes.
Caladrius Blaze may not look too impressive, but it more than makes up for it in variety and replay value. Each playthrough is about an hour but with lots of characters, lots of attacks, a bonus Boss Rush mode, and many unlockable gallery pictures, there is plenty for you to come back to. While issues like the Shame Break can be really annoying, this isn’t a bad game if you like old school style shooters and is definitely worth checking out! There is a PlayStation 4 release available right now that has English subs. And yes the manuals are also localized, which is really impressive. At about $35 on Play-Asia right now, you could do a whole lot worse than Caladrius Blaze. The amount of options and ways for you to play make up for its shortcomings.
This review copy of Caladrius Blaze was provided by Play-Asia. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of this game use the link below. You can also use the coupon code below to get a discount!