Every so often, a game is released that, good or bad, is unforgettable for one reason or another. God of Blades is just such a title. Developed by White Whale Games, this game seamlessly blends auto-running and hack and slash combat with a bizarre and unique sci-fi fantasy world that pays homage to the 70's pulp fiction of yesteryear to deliver something truly memorable. Luckily, it also happens to be really freaking good.
You are the Nameless King. Your spirit stirred to life once again in the wake of your people's suffering. Your memory is incomplete, but one thing is certain. You must raise your sword yet again against the savage and barbaric void cultists and their dark magicks to defend your people. That's pretty much the set up. What follows is a hard to follow but extremely well worded plot in a unique world with plenty of cool terminology that just drips from your tongue as you say it.
Gameplay involves you swiping in up, down, left, and right, to use three different kinds of attacks and a parry as you automatically run straight into enemy after enemy… after enemy. The game is a bit repetitive, but it's also a joy to learn the proper timing of each attack and how different enemies need to be handled. Swiping up results in an upwards slash that can knock defeated foes into your next opponent, and the parry is essential to winning battles against the formidable Slayers and other VoidChosen Heroes that you'll be cutting down. Like Tarsus the Accursed. Heavens was he annoying.
As you play through the story and enjoy the superb audio design and synth based score, you'll level up your memories, so to speak. When you gain new memory points, you can spend them to unlock other legendary swords, such as the Starwind or Voidcleaver, each with their own snippets of back story that make this world feel even larger and more fleshed out than the narrative already did. Each sword also holds its own unique power that you can activate in a bind, though they'll need to recharge after each use. These include screen clearing black holes to extreme damage boosts. Seriously though, make sure you use the starting sword against Tarsus the Accursed. Don't make the same mistake I did for so many tries. It makes him as threatening as a kitten.
The aesthetic of this game seems to draw inspiration from everything pulp fantasy ever created, whether we're talking movies, fantasy novel and comic book covers, and progressive rock album covers. There's also an endless mode with a God of Blades twist, and a cool metagame called Loreseeker that has you going to actual libraries to unlock new weapons, powered by Foursquare! Now, I don't know if it's just the game or my Motorola Xoom, but it seemed to have trouble registering my swipes from time to time, which was frustrating. Still, even with that frustration, and even with the repetitious nature of the game, I loved every second I spent in this lovingly crafted universe. The "Rule of Cool" is in full effect here, and I say that with full sincerity. There are flaws in the gameplay to be sure, but they are minor, and totally worth enduring to experience all the excellence. God of Blades is available for three dollars at the time of this review. Don't skip it.