Thanks to the efforts of Xseed games Unchained Blades has, after around an entire year, finally dungeon crawled its way to the United States for Sony’s Playstation portable. Unchained Blades is an interesting and somewhat different RPG experience than what some gamers may be used to. Unchained Blades puts you initially in the control of a very angst-filled dragon who, despite being presented with a wish after fighting his way through a legion of angels to talk to the goddess, decides that he wants to know who the toughest person on earth is.
Of course the goddess tries her best to help out the dragon but ultimately ends up somehow offending him by offering him the chance of being the strongest person on the planet. After this the dragon – default named Fang – ends up being punished by the goddess to basically be downgraded to level one, which is conveniently his human form. After this, Fang must battle his way through the game: earning new allies and fathering his ambition to fight tough foes. The experience is presented in a dungeon crawling first person RPG perspective. Dungeon maps are different in appearance based on floors but in the end kind of repetitive. The combat in the game comes in a couple forms. Most notably, RPG style battles reminiscent of Dragon Quest or the Etrian Odyssey series for DS, and also DDR style battles that involve your “followers”. Yes, along with the normal party members with personality you pick up over the course of the game from a cowardly several ton golem to a medusa lady who wants to lose her ability to turn people to stone in order to fall in love, you also have the ability to capture enemies when they are weakened or overcome by how badass you are.
After combat you are presented with a calculation of your charisma points based on your performance in battle. Things like running away hurt this score. Also once you capture allies they will often ask you inane questions which sometimes have trick answers. Answering correctly will also give you a Charisma boost. Recruiting allies is necessary for two reasons. First because you need their Anima or elements that each of them has in order for your characters to cast spells of certain kinds which unlock by leveling up and putting skill points into trees but also so you can defeat the DDR battles that appear in the dungeons. I found myself completing most of the dungeons and often having to go back and capture more powerful allies in order to beat these DDR battles. So do yourself a favor if you play this game and capture as many strong allies as possible. Speaking of battles, the boss battles in this game are huge – as in taking up multiple PSP screens huge. It seems like this game was intended to be for the 3DS considering the multiple screen battle aspect.
Outside of combat in town you can buy goods, rest at an inn, resurrect characters, get quests from a little girl barmaid, and even synthesize gear from the garbage you pick up in dungeons. Getting gear from shop in town can be absurdly expensive at first. You will want to pick up saws, trowels and picks in order to collect raw materials in the dungeons to craft gear instead.
Graphics are pretty bland although character designs can be somewhat interesting. Enemies in combat tend not to move much and are often just static sprites. You never see sprites of your characters outside of story segments or fireplace camp chats. Environments as I said above are somewhat repetitive once you start exploring the around eight dungeons in the game. You will probably find yourself staring at the map more then the actual over world. Music is quite good and catchy some of it is even composed by Final Fantasy veteran Nobuo Uematsu. Voices are a nice touch but can sometimes come off as somewhat disturbing. Female characters seem to all laugh almost every other line, but these are just minor gripes.
Overall, if you enjoy RPGs and do not mind the first person view, you will have a blast with Unchained Blades. The story may not be anything all that super original, but it is a quite enjoyable RPG experience. I found myself unable to put it down at times. If you are not a fan of grinding or the anime art aesthetic I would shy away from this title all together.
Lots of content
Music is great