Blade Symphony: Good, but Needs Sharpening
Blade Symphony has a lot of potential. The mechanics for a great sword fighting game are there and after getting past the mild learning curve, it can be really fun. The game needs a bit more polish in certain areas though before it can be considered a great title. Currently there are only four characters, each with their own unique fighting styles. While there are a multitude of swords to choose from and a ton of ways to customize each character to produce your own look, I still think the character selection is a bit sparse.
Character Customization and Weapon Choice Are Two Strong Points
The games few missteps don't just come from design choices but also from bugs. To unlock new swords and other items you have to collect an in-game currency called "notes" by participating in online play dueling other players. During my time with the game accruing notes didn't seem to work properly. After several duels I still had 0 notes in my account, despite the fact that you're supposed to gain notes whether you win or lose.
Playing with a 360 controller, I was also unable to find any indication of what actions were mapped to which buttons. Only mouse and keyboard players are given proper button prompts and those with gamepads are forced to figure things out by trial and error.
Enough about what the game does wrong though, and on to more of what it does right.
For starters, the visuals are pretty nice for an indie game. On its highest settings Blade Symphony's characters and environments are colorful with sharp textures and great lighting.
Visuals effects made specifically for battle are also pretty good. A neon arc shooting out from you're character's position shows the path your next attack will take. Visual effects for parries, attacks and damage also stand out in a good way, making what's happening onscreen clear no matter how hectic the fighting gets.
Developer Puny Humans Managed to Make the Details of Combat Clear at All Times
The fighting itself also feels pretty good. After a some messing around in training with my 360 controller I was able to get into a few online duels and actually manage to keep up with the few people I faced. Evading attacks, wall running and landing hits on an active human opponent made for a great experience. A few duels got really tense when my opponent and I were low on health and knew that one wrong move could end the match.
Combos can be strung together and canceled with a speed approaching most character action games. There's also a wide array of moves to be discovered. Each attack is unique depending on the path of the blade, the stance your character is in and whether or not the attack is charged. Different sword types are also given unique attributes with strengths and weaknesses.
It's clear that Blade Symphony is intended as a balanced and competitive title for people into fighting games and character action games. I believe that developer Puny Humans has pretty much pulled that off, but they also need to put the same attention to detail into other aspects of their game. Things like menu options, online play and button prompts shouldn't be anything but perfect upon release. If there was only a bit more content and some more polish Blade Symphony could be an amazing title. As it stands now, however, this game is average at best.