I never thought I would end up playing a Groundhog Day version of a video game but I believe I found it in the form of Blade & Sword. For those few, who are not familiar with the quirky Bill Murray movie, it’s all about the mundane repetition of everyday life. Bill Murray is trapped in his own private h** as repeats the same day while on a*ignment in a small Pennsylvania town covering a Groundhog Day festival. Playing the same levels over and over in Blade & Sword is not that far off from being roughly the same experience.The Diablo-style RPG actually has some unique elements to it and would be a worthy knockoff except for the shoddy structure of the game. First of all, you can only save one game and that’s it! The menu interface appears to have slots for multiple saves but only slots works so there is no way of saving more than one game. On top of that, you’re forced to save upon exit so you can forget about going back to a previous save. This is a major gaffe and becomes even more glaring with the level design. I even tried to cancel the game through the Windows task manager to see if it would revert back to my original save and guess what? It saved the current game that I was playing. Ugh!Now the Groundhog Day stuff. Anytime you load a new game, you have to deal with the creatures that you’ve already killed. As the famous baseball player, Yogi Berra would say, “It’s déjà vu, all over again.” Once you’ve spent all that time clearing an area, you’ll see your “little friends” again when you go back to play the previously saved game. This respawning is a real drag especially since there’s a boatload of creatures to deal with. It gets to a point where you’ll be crying to go back and fire up Diablo II again.This is a real downer since the martial arts fighting is a natural for the hack and slash gameplay. You can choose one of three playable characters – Long Swordsman (balance of power and speed), Twin Blades Heroine (speed and agility) or Great Blade Warrior (power). The martial arts moves for all of the characters are really cool to use and the ability to string them together for combination moves is an excellent feature. There is also an alternate super attack mode, which juices up your attacks at the expense of your character’s chi (mana). New attack modes also become available when your character levels up. Your weapons can also be enhanced with special gems. On the defensive side, blocks are executed by using the control button and actually become an important part of the fighting since you’ll run into some formidable foes as well as large groups of fiends. The martial arts style of fighting helps to reduce the tedium that’s characteristic of most hack and slash games but then the developers had to s*** everything up with shoddy enemy management.The 2D graphics are more reminiscent of the original Diablo then Diablo 2 but fortunately the creature design helps to more than adequately compensate for the limitations of the older graphics engine. The maximum screen resolution is an old-school 800×600 maximum so think of it as going back in time or better yet, you’ve got an RPG to play on your laptop. On the positive side, the creatures look good and there are plenty of different enemies to keep the hacking and slashing from becoming a mundane chore. My personal favorites are the exploding zombies and the gravediggers. The absence of character voices (text only dialogue) is another reminder that Blade and Sword is still deep down a low-budget Diablo knockoff. The lack of a multiplayer feature is another sign that has bargain bin written all over it.Blade & Sword has the right idea in trying to bring a martial arts theme to a Diablo-style RPG but damages its own cause by failing to address its multiple design flaws. Some Diablo fans might find it to be an okay diversion but most gamers will find the respawning issues and limited game save feature a bit too frustrating to deal with. Unfortunately, Blade & Sword just doesn’t have the right edge to make it a recommended title.

Paul Younger
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Founder of the world's first gaming cafe and Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.

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