Image by J0nB0n via FlickrBlademaster is a new "action RPG" from MinorAxis, a South Korean developer that is doing very good work adapting games for their market to American markets. These games are full-fledged RPGs with large maps, plenty of quests, lots of items, TONS of monsters to kill left and right, and three classes of weapons to master (slayer [big sword], regular sword, dagger) plus special "magic moves", plenty of enhancements, even "intensify" your items... This can be sold for $15-20 if it is a computer game, so it's a bargain at less than $5 for a month! You're talking about 30-40 hours of play time PLUS "extra tough" hero mode... Only Minor Axis RPGs give you that much play time.
The base story is simple: an evil king "Calmark" is invading the land after recruiting several evil leaders and their "army". As Prince Aramis, you decided to let your younger brothers help your father in the war effort, but your "allies" may not be actual allies... as your lover is about to be married off to another prince for a strategic alliance. Your two brothers are plotting against you, because you're clearly the heir-to-be. What a mess, right? Throughout the game, you'll learn a lot about your own past, how the situation has came to be, and what needs to be done and why. While that's mostly just background filler and doesn't affect gameplay much, it's much better than your typical "kill the foozle" [there is a very bad guy, you have to kill him] plot found in most games.
The different towns use "warpers" to enter or leave. Engage one and you're teleported to a "level". If you've visited the level before, and defeated all enemies once, then you don't have to fight, just run for the exit on the other side. And there are several DOZEN of these levels, and a map that tells you which gates lead where. Not all gates are open all the time... You have to clear the level once to open them, and even then you have "level restrictions". Some gates are also closed until you finish certain "main quests".
Most of the quests are given by people in town. Most are "kill enemies and get X number of item Y, come back" type deals. Some are "kill X enemies and come back" deals. Some are even just "FedEx" deals where you take one item to another place. Sometime one quest triggers another. For example, you deliver a message to town, only to be told that you need to help them do something else before you can get the reply. Fortunately, most quests do NOT need to be done in order, and the "side quests" are labelled with suggested character level, so you know which ones you CAN handle, and which ones you cannot. And despite the "urgency", there actually is no time limit.
The special bosses can't be defeated through weapon power alone, but you will need some of your magic moves, and you got 3 of them, energy attack, circle attack, and SUPER attack. They each do different damage, and costs different amount of energy. And each can be enhanced through usage. When you gain levels, you can apply additional points into each of the 3 special magic attacks for even more power.
The three classes of weapons are daggers, swords and slayers (big swords). They each ramp up separately (different skills), and they each have the 3 separate magic attacks mentioned earlier (total of 9). Dagger is very fast but lets enemies close. Sword gets hits, but is average in most cases. Slayers are big and slow, but long-range and do big damage. Some locations require a certain class of weapon to enter, so keep those skills even! Hit attack multiple times to get combo attacks, or even dash attacks, which do more damage!
There are plenty of items.. gauntlets/gloves, shoes/greaves, armor, ring, pendent... and so on. Each can be regular (white), magical (blue), rare (orange), or epic (red). Of course, the higher grade stuff comes with more bonuses, like better attack, more critical hits, and so on. Each can be "intensified" by applying the proper ingredients at a blacksmith. And there are even two grades of ingredients: regular, and high. High quality ingredients are more likely to intensify the item. Yes, intensification can fail, and can even destroy the item. Ouch. So don't use the regular (read: cheap) stuff on those rare or even epic items, and always have a "backup", just in case!
Then there's the standard "town portal", heal potions, magic replenish potions, combo potions (available in multiple sizes!), and so on, and the misc items that comes from defeating monsters. Your inventory space IS limited, so beware! However, you *can* buy 'bags' for additional inventory space.
Different enemies have different attacks, different speeds, and different moves, so know your enemies. Some are more vulnerable to magic, some are more vulnerable to blades, and so on. It's important to learn the attacks, stock up on heal potions, and so on. There is a bestiary that documents all the bad guys, what levels, what stats, etc. of the monsters you've seen.
As stated, there are dozens of levels, each with enemies, and some enemies do replenish, when you go back into town(s). Add occasional bosses with unique attacks, and it is fun, but it can get a bit repetitive though, as you just go back and forth between towns, and enemies do get a bit repetitive as well.
You accumulate EXP and stuff like like regular RPG, and assign points to your stats too. As stated before, your different blade skills are accumulated separately as well. You can't specialize, as different locations will require you to use a certain weapon! In fact, in the final encounter, you're forced to switch from one to another at every map location!
The style is your typical Asian RPG, with smaller avatars, portrait at the bottom with text boxes, etc. You can save at any time. So you don't really have to worry about death that much. In fact, there are "resurrection pills" which cost a lot (at least for a beginner) that will instantly revive you (even dead). Or... you can reappear back to town, get revived by a NPC, and go back to your "body" and reclaim the items. However, if you are careful, you should almost never die.
My first playthrough took 35 hours. Yes, I did say 35 HOURS. There's a timer in the savegame that tells you so. And I can restart the game in "Hero Mode" which makes stuff extra tough. The character you finish the regular mode with is a mere rookie here. Yep, that tough.
Problems? The game gets repetitive when your level gets that high. Also, the equipment tops out at level 80. You can go for intensification, and epic equipment, but the bonuses aren't adding up, esp. when the recommended level of the missions is like 102, 109, 115, and so on. Finally, the dagger is VERY underpowered, esp. in Hero mode. You need to ramp up your own level a LOT, and that means repeated kill more critters using weapons that will get you hurt, and that simply gets... boring, and dangerous. Still, in regular play this isn't as obvious.
All in all, Blademaster has some problem with pacing, as the action really gets repetitive, and it's possible to do some quests REALLY out of order, but in general you know which quests you can or cannot handle. Like previous MinorAxis RPGs, this is a great little game that deserves wider distribution. Give it a try.
Overall rating: 9 out of 10 (HALL OF FAME!)
Pros: so much complexity in such a little game!
Cons: fighting gets a bit repetitive, too many FedEx quests
Verdict: a truly worthwhile RPG for the mobile phone
* Sword is probably the most useful, as it has the best "projectile" attack... very long range, and causes HUNDREDS in damage. You can shoot it at enemies OFF the screen and still score big damage. In fact, I do that a lot, esp. to the bosses and tougher enemies.
* Slayer's projectile attack, a meteor strike, is also very useful, but not quite as good as sword's "landshark' attack. Range is shorter, and damage ranges from 700 to up to 3000+. The dagger projectile attack is nearly worthless. The range is supershort, and it barely does any damage, and takes a few heartbeats to setup the actual strike. it does have multi-strike (i.e. if the shot hits and enemy it can knock him/her back for more damage, and may work better against level edge wall)
* When out of MP, run off to one side and "recharge", then go back and repeat.
* Sword super-attack does thousands in damage to a SINGLE target... if you hit. Dagger can do it too, but the Slayer super attack is aimed at GROUP of enemies, about 1000 damage each.
* Buy like 40-50 potions. You WILL need them. By level 50 I get 50 500-HP potions on me all the time. AND I still have a few of the other stuff as 'backup.
* Use those magic attacks! Fire them just after you knock the enemy down so you can do more damage as they're down, or fire them as long-range attack before they get into range.
* Compare stats of weapons before you trade them in. Just because weapon's closer to your level doesn't necessarily mean it's better. The magical, rare, or epic stuff with intensification can be better than something 10 levels higher, if you intensified it enough. If you're "lazy", use the "sell value" to determine whether to keep or not. Cheaper stuff should be sold. Remember, you can't use equipment that's above your own level!
* Keep all three weapons, as you will need them for different situations. Keep their skill levels even. If one gets ahead of the others, stop using it.
* One trick for dagger users... The projectile attack has short range but has a good knockback. So if you can push a monster against an edge, so it can't get knocked back, so instead of maybe 800 damage, you will do like 3x that much.
* Don't bother intensifying any of the "plain" weapons, or even magical. Do it to rare, or epic stuff only, and ONLY use the "high grade" ingredients. You get more bonus that way. I have a lvl 41 Slayer, rare, with +5 intensification. It does 198 damage with 8 critical, compared to a lvl 53 magical +1 that only does about 160 damage.
* High-grade ingredients for intensification cannot be bought in stores. So don't ever sell any of it. Their name would be in "orange", meaning they're rare. You get them by opening chests, esp. in those temples and whatnot, or you can get them as a bonus item from winning in the arena at Medive. Sell the cheap stuff.
* Remember to repair everything when you're in town. Nothing's more embarrassing than finding you're using a dull blade to carve enemies.
* There is one quest that's broken, as least on mine. The "Document of Destruction" quest cannot be completed, and some of the extra good ingredients can't be found or somehow goes into inventory of the wrong type (i.e. as equipment).
* separate the enemies and fight one at a time. When surrounded, use the "circle attack" to gain breathing room, then run for the edge of the "level".
* play the arena in Medive. While the admission cost is high, the stuff you get from there is worth a lot, probably more than the price of admission, and you don't need to run around the world looking for them. Usually you would get at least an item you CAN use, at least magical if not higher grade, and a bonus item, either another piece of equipment (worth less) or high-grade intensification material.
* Checklist when you get into town:
=== Rest at the inn to restore HP and MP (cheaper than using potions)
=== Sell extra stuff at the potion shop: all non-quest items, all normal-grade ingredients (WARNING: check your quests first! Once you sold the stuff you can't undo the deal! It'd be really embarassing to have sold off the avarice tooth when you need 7 of them to fulfill a quest!)
=== Buy bags and gold keys when extra gold is available until you're maxed. Replenish gold keys as needed.
=== Replenish potions. As each slot in the bag can fit 20, you should always buy in increments of 20. In hero mode I carry like 100 different 500 pt potions.
=== Visit weapon shop, sell excess equipment (use sell price as criteria to determine keep/sell, remember you need 3 working weapons: 1 of each class
=== Repair all equipment you're keeping
=== If money available and proper ingredients available,intensify the proper equipment
=== Visit all quest-related characters in town, from one end to another, to make sure none were missed
=== Save game