Ninjas and videogames go together like retirement homes and melba toast. We don’t see them that often anymore but when they’re together it just makes sense. Within the Blade is one such game, calling upon the likes of games like Ninja Gaiden to create an old school-feeling 2D action game with modern design affects. It’s a bizarre, little game, but largely in ways that don’t do it any favors.

Within the Blade Review

Within the Blade starts off well enough. You’re a ninja, and you have to go out in the woods and fight bandits threatening your town. Out in the trenches you’ll learn how to fight head on, use items or attacks from the shadows all ninja-like.

Double jmups, wall jumps, so on and so forth are abound. But it just doesn’t feel good. There are some pretty awesome maneuvers you can pull off, such as definitive kill strikes from above or over the top stealth kills. But there’s a weird weight to the ninja that makes precision oddly difficult.

It’s like Ryu Hyabusa has bricks strapped to his feet instead of those cool ninja shoes. Dropping in from above requires meticulous positioning if you want to land those attacks, as the slightest dip from perfection ends up with you landing anywhere but your target. 

Related: Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection Review | Framerate no Justu

Similarly, enemies have such great lines of vision you also have to be able to set up your stealth approach from afar, often before you can even see what’s going on around closer to your target. The game also doesn’t like to give you honest opportunities for stealth, bunching groups of enemies together in ways that ensure you’ll get one and then have to go loud.

Boss fights are odd too, shifting the game’s pace to something more like a Dark Souls-type deal. Bosses outmaneuver you and then some, and often require cheesy-feeling tactics (basically, abandoning the core mechanics as used everywhere else) to get the fights over with. Some of the setpieces can be pretty cool, but everything just feels scattershot and disjointed.

There’s a cool game in here somewhere, but Within the Blade feels like it tries to do too much and cram it all into a small space. If this were a more focused sort of action game there could be a bunch of cool stuff surrounding its fast and weighty physics. But with trying to have it all, Within the Blade only manages to be a cool throwback to older, better games. 


Pros:

  • Fast, fluid animation
  • Cool 2D violence

Cons

  • Weird tonal shifts
  • You fight against the physics as much as the enemies
  • Weird inventory/shop systems that don't make intuitive sense

Score: 6

A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review