I was going to say it’s incredible that there hasn’t been a Shadow Blade game until now, but there is – somewhat confusingly – an unrelated Shadow Blade II: Epic Heroes Quest on both the App Store and Google Play (where’s the first one?), and furthermore a Shadow Blade weapon in Fruit Ninja and Dota 2.
Anyway! Crescent Moon Games’ Shadow Blade for iOS is really rather good. Skim over this review if you must – then go buy it.
The story in Shadow Blade: our hero Kuro has received some unsettling news about the rise of the Amida clan, and consequently must travel across three chapters equating to 32 individual levels to deliver said news to the last-remaining ninja master.
Shadow Blade’s controls are fairly simple, but there’s a remarkable volume of actions in Kuro’s arsenal, including run, jump, double jump, wall jump, air dash, attack, running attack, and diving attack. Phew!
Fortunately, despite the abundance of moves in Shadow Blade, it’s all very intuitive. However, I highly recommend switching to on-screen controls rather than gestures, as I really struggled with the latter.
In terms of Shadow Blade enemies, you’ve got guys with swords, guns and – later on – flamethrowers. Mostly Kuro’s running from A to B, but the last level in each chapter tasks you with surviving several waves of attack.
After each level you’re awarded a rating not in terms of stars, but shuriken. To grab all three, you’ll have to a) complete the level within the target time (unspecified, incidentally), b) find both special symbols, and c) collect all the glowing, er, stars? Shuriken?
While we’re on the subject of glowing thingies, one of my favourite touches in Shadow Blade is the little tune you can play by collecting glowing thingies in rapid succession. Neat.
Other things to love about Shadow Blade include the gore (it’s rather bloody), and the style. Chapter one looks fairly old-school orient, with candles and lanterns and wooden buildings and what have you, while the third chapter is dominated by blue skies and mountains.
The middle chapter is slightly confusing in the sense that it appears to take place in some sort of dystopian future, complete with neon signs and skyscrapers. As such, with technology being so advanced, I’m wondering if Kuro couldn’t just call sensei on his mobile.
But hey, when that’s one of the only things I can think to criticise, it’s clear that Shadow Blade is pretty, pretty, pretty good.
- An abundance of actions with intuitive controls
- Three very stylish chapters
- Replay value with three shuriken up for grabs in each level
- The gesture controls failed to float my proverbial goat
- Would be nice to know the target times for each level
- The dystopian stuff feels a tad out of place
Summary: Shadow Blade is a stylish and relatively fast-paced gore fest that’s well worth the £1.49 entry fee. We’ll surely be recalling this one when it comes to the Best Smartphone Games of 2014.
Developer: Crescent Moon Games
Price: £1.49 @ App Store
Compatibility: Requires iOS 4.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPad, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPod touch (5th generation). This app is optimized for iPhone 5.