AeternoBlade II starts as it means to go on, clunky, confusing and thinking that it was smarter than it is. The game dives right in, without giving an explanation of what has happened before, what is happening currently. Most annoyingly, there was no indication or hint of what may happen next, the story just jumps along. The hack and slash combat may be at times rewarding, but that style of combat is indicative of the title as a whole. The confusing combat is at times unrewarding and messy which mirrors the game’s overall feel. Perhaps most heinously, the game’s story is incredibly forgettable, as it jumps from character to character without developing any of them beyond their basic appearance and characteristics.
One thing that must be said is that AeternoBlade II is certainly ambitious, with decent ideas dotted around the game. From research, I have managed to get a basic understanding of the story, and it seems relatively rewarding for anyone who was invested in it, but to me it served to provide very little motivation to continue. Constant thoughts of “who?” “what?” and “really?” dotted with the occasional peaking of interest meant that I was never ever dying to get back to learn what was to come.
The constant switching between characters meant that I never truly understood exactly what any of their abilities were until I had gone far beyond caring. While the combat system overall can be quite intuitive, the lack of meaty progression means that I stuck the moves that I began with. Any new move available, didn’t seem effective so I merely pushed through any barrier to this. That being said, it was pretty responsive and interesting, when I wasn’t completely frustrated.
Say Cheese… for the camera that can’t stop moving
By far the most jarring part of the game was it’s changing camera angles/ depth. The game jumps from a 2D platformer to 2D fighting, to 3D fighting. This part of the game seems under-developed and overall, felt like weights halting my progression. The random switches were incredibly annoying, and 3D especially was incredibly glitchy, as I struggled with the camera and lock-on system. Had the developers merely made a 2D platform/fighting game, the game would have been much more rewarding. When I learned that there was a troubled development, I began to understand more and more.
The smooth, 00s aesthetic could be interesting, but many textures in the game just look so out of place. Even certain characters, such as Bernard, have highly detailed hair and clothing, but a face that wouldn’t be out of place 20 years ago. This was another low blow on my immersion in the game. The animations match this aesthetic, with some being incredibly impressive, while others made me want to play a better game with similar graphics from years gone by. The most frustrating aspect for me was the fact that the world which AeternoBlade II creates. Its interesting backgrounds in each level touched my inner RPG love, as I drudged along the monotonous path towards the next shift in camera angle, away from the world I imagined exploring.
Overall, AeternoBlade II somehow kept me playing, eager for the game to redeem itself. Unfortunately, this iteration was unable to do so, but there is hope. There is potential in this series, to really hook fans of all sort. A narrower focus, coupled with more a polished finish ought to make that a reality. As something extra for your Switch, it’s fine, but the price-tag warrants more substance, polish and care than is provided.
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