Game Review – Bladestorm: Nightmare (Xbox One)

Being developed by Omega Force and published by Koei Tecmo, one might think Bladestorm: Nightmare is yet another entry in the popular Dynasty Warriors series. Hell, it even looks similar enough to those titles. However, once you dive in to the game and actually play it for yourself, you begin to realize that this is a slightly different game with its own unique play-style.

Though is that a good thing, or bad? Continue reading for my experience with Bladestorm: Nightmare and what I thought of it!

Right off the bat I would like to talk about the differences between Bladestorm: Nightmare and the Dynasty Warriors series. Only because when you take a quick look at Bladestorm and compare the visuals instead of actually paying attention to the gameplay motives, it does seem very similar to the other series of games. However, there are key gameplay mechanics that are different. In Dynasty Warriors, strategy doesn’t really play a key role. Sure, you can take the time to figure out things and decide what option would be best. But for the most part in Dynasty Warriors, its strength is the fact that you take control of an overpowered warrior who is a complete badass. And you use this warrior and his or her insane moves to wreck your way through waves upon waves of enemies.

In Bladestorm: Nightmare, while the waves upon waves of enemies coming at you are still present, you’re not controlling just one super warrior and destroying enemies with crazy 100+ hit combos. Instead, your mercenary in the game takes control of a squad of multiple soldiers. Strategy comes in to play a little when you figure out which squad works best in certain areas, since each one has their own advantage on the battlefield, and their own weakness. So instead of playing the solo character and destroying everything in your path, in Bladestorm: Nightmare you’re in charge of different squads that you control throughout the battlefield while capturing different positions and taking control against the opposition. The similarities to Dynasty Warriors are definitely there in certain goals of the game, but it plays out different enough to be its own thing.

That’s not to say that you need to heavily rely on strategy, though. While each squad does have its own advantages and disadvantages, with enough time and effort you can still fight your way through most of the obstacles regardless of what type of squad you control. It may be easier using strategy to your advantage but it’s definitely not needed to overcome your opposition. Especially if you’re playing through certain contracts in the game where you’re able to control up to three additional commanders. This is a new addition to this current-gen port of the game, and it helps you slay right through enemy forces if you can afford their services.

Another difference Bladestorm has would be the size of the battlefields in the game. They are much bigger than the maps you play through in Dynasty Warriors. And while that should be a good thing, since you have a much wider area to explore and fight your way through, it unfortunately takes away from the experience when you notice just how dull things seem to be for such a huge area. Squads don’t really get big enough to be all that impressive in such an open space. And for the most part the environment just doesn’t seem alive enough to be all that exciting.

Speaking of the environment in the game, the visuals presented for this current-gen remake of last-gen’s Bladestorm: The Hundred Years’ War unfortunately aren’t all that great. There is a difference and they have definitely been updated, however it isn’t that big of a difference and you can still tell this is a last-gen title. Most of the animations in the game are very stiff, and the soldiers don’t really carry any visual differences from one another. They all pretty much look the same. And while the maps are huge and at some points a lot is going on, everything just kind of all blends in together and none are really too distinct from one another. I know it’s silly to nitpick at graphics when it comes to a game of this genre, but I can’t help but feel that things could have looked a lot better.

As for the story, it’s about what you would expect from the developers if you’re familiar with their other games. It has a lengthy campaign that is set during the Hundred Years’ War between France and England. Your main character is a mercenary who you customize to your liking to play through both sides of the war and earn skill points and money through missions that vary from castle sieges to battleground fights. Your guide throughout the campaign is a barkeeper with a lot of questionable knowledge and a hilariously bad accent. There isn’t too much conversation throughout the campaign or storytelling really, and no other characters ever really develop in to relationships you can care about. During the loading sequences however, a lot of history lessons and references are present that will give you the main idea of how everything is playing out, or more backstory on certain characters the game follows.

The main addition to this Bladestorm port is what the new title directly implies, and that is the new Nightmare mode. This is the main draw for the game and the reason to play it again on updated consoles. Nightmare mode is set during an alternate timeline during the Hundred Year’ War between the same two sides; however things jump to complete fantasy with hordes of demons and towering monstrosities taking control of the battlefield. The campaign isn’t nearly as long as the main story’s, in-fact it’s only around 5-6 hours, but it makes up for that by completely flipping everything upside down with insanity.

In Nightmare mode, a lot of the focus is on Joan of Arc who now has mystical powers and hordes of demons at her disposal. To take on this new threat, the armies of France and England put their differences aside to fight for humanity’s sake and oppose these demons. Everything is a lot more interesting in this alternate reality and even the visuals are more appealing. Instead of faceless soldiers on the opposing side, you now have demons, ogres, dragons and much more towering over you and seeming like a real actual threat. This mode is a ton of fun to play through and the only downside of it is that it’s just too short.

In the end, Nightmare mode definitely saves the game from being plain average, but unfortunately it’s kind of all it has going for it. That’s not to say the rest of the game is bad, just very dull and okay at best. Other than the new mode, if you’ve already played Bladestorm on last-gen consoles then there isn’t too much reason to come back to it. Nightmare mode was definitely my favorite part of the game and I’m glad they addedit, but I don’t know if a short 5 hour side mode is enough to warrant a retail purchase. Even if I did have a blast playing through it.

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