Title: Aeterno Blade
Developer: Corecell Technology
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 507 MB
NA Availability: Digital Download
EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes
There are some games that go throughout the gaming industry that begin on handheld and are set as handheld games. Some of them do eventually go to the console world, but start as handheld games. These games aren’t necessarily made to only use handheld features, but that’s just where they’re made, at least to start. That isn’t to say they stay on handhelds. Many of them do eventually cross borders to other systems.
This generation has been home to a lot of these games. On both the Nintendo 3DS and the PlayStation Vita. Games like Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate, Resident Evil: Revelations and Toukiden Kiwami began as handheld games and have extended to both the handheld and console worlds. There aren’t that many games that do this, but there are more games crossing that border for better or for worse.
Some of these changes are planned, though. Today’s review is one of those examples. This game started on the Nintendo 3DS’ eShop and expanded to the PlayStation Vita this past week. Not only that, but it’s also set to grace the console world later on as well. Originally and still a handheld title, here is my official review of Aeterno Blade!
The story of Aeterno Blade, originally named Time Avenger, revolves around a young female warrior named Freyja. Before the game begins, a dark lord named Beladim appeared before and decimated her home village of Ridge Road. Being the sole survivor, Freyja sets out after Beladim’s forces to reap vengeance upon him for the destruction of her home and the deaths of everyone she knew and loved. On the way, she receives a sword known as the Aeterno Blade, a sword with the power to manipulate time, that she sets to use to help achieve her revenge.
The plot of Aeterno Blade is very involved as you progress through the story, but it’s not a particularly great or deep story. While you do get a mild backstory on Beladim and Freyja, the story isn’t going to be something that will hold your attention. It’s a pretty simple premise of someone driven by hatred and vengeance and set on taking it out on the man responsible. It works for the setting, but isn’t something incredibly memorable.
Aeterno Blade is a side-scrolling action game with puzzle elements. To be more specific, the game plays out like a Castlevania or classic Metroid game, and would be classified as what many people call a “Metroidvania”. As you progress through each of the game’s stages, you’ll be going through small areas, fighting off enemies and platforming in side-scrolling fashion.
The game plays out as an overall world as you go from stage to stage, but the game presents it in stages. While you can replay stages and they are sequential, you go back to your own home base called the Eternal Room when you finish stages. This does give a bit of two perspectives. One being the overworld aspect that Castlevania games give but also the feel of going back to your base between stages as well as from Save Points.
Progression through the stages has you roaming each stage, fighting off waves of enemies as well as solving puzzles to open the way towards the Boss Fight and the end of the stage. Fighting through enemies paves your path in that many of the areas you pass through will block your exit until you defeat a certain number of enemies or a certain number of waves of enemies. Once they’re down, the blockades will disappear and you can move on. This is similar to the Trap Fights in God of War.
Puzzles are a little bit different. These are solved using the various Time Manipulation skills you acquire. By using Mana, you can manipulate time by reversing time or teleporting to a specific location you were in seconds past. You can, for example, have a lift come down to the ground and then reverse time once you’re on it and ride it back up to where it was before. The Time Manipulation can also be used in battle when you die to undo the blow that took away your health.
Actual combat has to do with using your sword to perform various types of slashes to fight enemies in aerial and ground combat to beat them down enough to defeat them. This has various types of attacks, normally in various directions, and they proceed in a very Hack n Slash nature. This does give you a few options and give a little bit of a beat-em-up feel, though with the normal enemies, you won’t have to strategize aside from just jumping and mashing buttons to beat down enemies.
To bring a bit of an RPG element into the game, you can use Save Points to enhance your characters. You earn yellow orbs as you fight enemies, and you can spend these yellow orbs to increase your stats as well as learning new skills or upgrading the skills you already have. This upgrade system is fairly robust, but requires a lot of grinding to enhance. By the time I finished the game, I was barely halfway done with all of the possible stat upgrades.
The biggest thing that brings some challenge to the combat are the Boss Fights. Every time you enter a boss fight, you will find a very challenging boss that you need learn to fight in order to win against. This is a big part of the game’s difficulty that is fun, because each boss takes several tries to learn how to fight, and some require not only timed attacks but also using the Time Manipulation. Some bosses have attacks you cannot dodge unless you use the Time Manipulation, requiring a lot of strategy.
Across all 7 stages of the game, you can reach the Normal Ending (which is also the Bad Ending) in about 8 hours, though searching through the stages and finding the items you need for the True Ending will require quite a bit of more time. If you can get into the game and learn the puzzles with ease, you should expect to spend at least 12 hours in the game, if not more. It’s got a fair amount of length to it, for an action game of this type.
Aeterno Blade isn’t that hard to control. First of all, you don’t need to use the touch screens for anything in this game. Pretty much the entire game will only use the physical buttons on the system. It’s also noted that the PlayStation TV doesn’t add anything to the game, control-wise. It controls the same as it does on the Vita and doesn’t use the secondary R and L buttons.
Moving Freyja throughout each stages can be done with both the D-Pad and the Left Analog Stick. Since this is a side-scroller, there are some sections where the D-Pad feels a little more comfortable. Pretty much all of the other buttons will be used for combat. The L and R triggers are used for some of the Time Manipulation. Tap the R button to reverse time and tap the L button to use a learnable skill that can quickly dodge incoming attacks.
The rest of the game is controlled by the face buttons. Confirming an option in a menu is handled by the X button and going back is the Circle button. Do note that if you’re using a Japanese system, these two are switched despite the game being a Western version. In combat, the X button is used for jumping and double-jumping and the Circle button is used to place a teleport circle. The Triangle button is used to trigger your Ultimate Attack and the Square button is used for physical attacks.
It’s a pretty simple control scheme to learn and the game does a pretty good job at explaining how everything works in the tutorial areas.
Visually, Aeterno Blade looks like a PSP or Mobile game. The environments look pretty good, but the character models could use some work. There are quite a few jagged edges on them and the CG scenes look dated as well, as if they were taken from the PS1 era. They don’t look bad, but the in-game renders should have been polished better on the Vita. This is clearly something that could run just as easily as a downloadable PSP game.
As far as how the game plays, everything runs fine. There aren’t any areas where you’ll experience any slowdown or lag, which is a plus. The load times are nothing to look down upon either, only taking a few seconds to load each area or stage. The game was optimized pretty well for the PS Vita, with the main complaint being how the visuals look as opposed to how it plays.
Aeterno Blade is: Decent
Aeterno Blade makes its way over to the PlayStation Vita with all content intact. On the downside, the combat doesn’t have a lot of depth outside of Boss fights, the visuals look like something you’d see on the PSP or Mobile, and the story won’t hold your attention for long. The game has its own charm with time manipulation and it performs well, but definitely isn’t the best of its kind.