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Blade Kitten
Score: 77%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Krome Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Platformer

Graphics & Sound:
Blade Kitten is a game that has a lot of potential to be a really fun hack-n-slash action game, but for some reason, doesn't quite hit the mark in all the right spots.

Blade Kitten's look and feel come straight from the web comic it is based on. The anime style of the heroine and the strange alien creatures and technologies come through rather well, and you can tell that the comic's creator, Steve Stamatildis, was heavily involved in the game's development. Of course, it doesn't hurt Krome Studios that Stamatildis was part of the development team involved in the studio's Ty the Tasmanian Tiger series.

The game's audio isn't anything spectacular, but it does what it needs to. The background music has a techno feel to it, while the game's dialogue and voice acting never sounds phoned-in, but at times seems a bit over the top... but then again, that could very well be part of the anime-like style the game is going for.

Blade Kitten is a side-scrolling hack-n-slash game where you take your floating sword to massive numbers of enemies, most of which are robotic grunts of varying abilities. The 2.5D nature of the game's levels allows for enemies to not only come from the sides, but also the background via alleys and walkways heading away from your walkable area. While the game provides plenty of enemies to plow through, there just seems to be something lacking in the overall feel to make it a truly memorable hack-n-slash title.

It seems that a lot of what is missing from the game is the feeling that you are going from enemy to enemy across the level. More times than not, a group of 2 or 3 bad guys will appear and you take them down, but there is enough time between the next wave to stop any possible groove you might be trying to get into. And maybe I'm just looking at the game wrong, maybe it's supposed to fit more into the action/platformer genre.

Unfortunately, Blade Kitten has a few failings there as well. The elements that might be considered platformer-like aren't frequent enough to really get that feel from the game. Sure there are quite a few jumps or moving platforms, but most of the game has you running across fairly unbroken land, taking out the enemies as they come to you. The game just doesn't quite fit well into any of these genres, but doesn't do enough to try and define its own place.

That's not to say Blade Kitten is a bad game, by any means. There are a lot of good points that show what the game could be. For one, I love the massive amount of exploring you can do in the game's lengthy levels, especially since it is a side-scroller. Since Kit Ballard (your character) can easily climb on walls and hang from ceilings, gamers who must pick up all the collectibles will have to spend a lot of time crawling around the room's extremities in order to find the Hexes (the game's currency) and treasure chests that are scattered around everywhere. This extended the playtime for this first episode a lot, because I'm sure if I wasn't interested in the various pickups laying around, I would have been able to rush through the game's levels much quicker than I did.

One of Blade Kitten's more severe faults is its lack of difficulty. While it is possible to die in the game, it takes a lot to get there. Kit's health regenerates quickly, and that's if the enemies actually get to it, since she has a pretty powerful shield that will hold back most attacks. With her blade's long range and near perfect accuracy, the only times you will ever have to go back to the previous checkpoint (of which there are plenty), is when you are massively overpowered, either by numbers or brute force.

Again, it seems this could be fixed by providing a higher concentration of enemies instead of the two- or three-man waves the game seems to throw at you. Hopefully, this is part of the plan for the game's future episodes.

Game Mechanics:
While my earlier complaints about Blade Kitten are generally minor, the biggest issue I have with the game really makes it hard to enjoy, and that's the feel of the controls. There isn't anything wrong with which buttons do what, or anything like that, but what doesn't seem right is the looseness of the controls. For some reason, running around through the levels, attacking enemies and jumping onto walls just doesn't feel right. It's hard to nail it down to a specific problem with the controls, but it seems to be a combination of jumps not quite getting you where you are supposed to be and the speed of your attacks not quite matching the speed of your button mashing. These issues combined with no real combo system that lets you smoothly go from one small wave of enemies to the next really hurts the action aspect of this game.

While Blade Kitten isn't what it could be, there is a lot of potential here, and hopefully tweaks brought out with the remaining episodes will go a long way to cleaning up these issues. Right now, though, this game isn't going to appeal to too many people outside of the web comic's existing fan base. That might change if the overall series of games turns out to be a much better experience, but as a stand-alone, this first episode might not be worth the price (or space) of the full download.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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