Staring down the gargantuan beast, you only have one sliver of health left. You’ve gone through several phases now, but you aren’t sure how much longer it’s going to keep clinging to life. You bait the first attack, then the second; you roll in and go for the kill. Two swipes, and it starts winding up its next attack. Barely dodging out of the way, you land the final blow, and the monster falls. A victory chime sweeps over the scene, and you pump your fists into the air. It only took 16 tries, but you’ve finally overcome it.
This is the sense of accomplishment offered to you by FAR BLADE, a title currently in early access from solo dev @BcubedLabs. Presented as a boss rush, the game is controlled from an isometric perspective, allowing the player to sweep the camera 360º around the character, roll, block, and swing their blade. A small hub area gives grounding to the world, taunting you with several tantalizing routes to take, each one leading to a new monster for you to surmount. There seems to be a bit more to the exploration of the world than most boss rushes, allowing the player time to wander a somewhat expansive space between monsters.
Rendered in lush lo-fi 3D, crunchy pixel art textures and chunky animation paint a world brimming with life. A greater atmosphere is being constructed here as well, opening with ominous text regarding your discovery of “knowledge” and the player character burying their head in their hands. Down the path from the starting point is a fork in the road, a hooded figured greeting you as a “Lost One”, as though the game were thumbing its nose at the notion of player choice, as taking either path will take you to the same fate.
While the current build of the game only offers one boss, a kraken littered with the blades of those unable to topple it prior, FAR BLADE is very much a distillation of the base, stereotypical “game” one would expect: you versus a baddie. Rewarding quick wits and reflexes, it finds itself beside other titles such as Titan Souls or Furi. Much like these, it’s quite the reward for those who enjoy dismantling when and where attacks can be allowed without punishment. Unforgiving and asking you to attempt the same fight multiple times, it’s easy to give in to frustration, but overcoming these obstacles can be intensely rewarding.
While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, FAR BLADE promises to be a game well worth keeping an eye on regardless. Tight controls, excellent presentation, and the glimpse of an intriguing world leave me wanting much, much more. With its hopeful eventual seven bosses and more expansive world, I’m personally chomping at the bit to delve further into its mystery.
Until then, I’ll be biding my time and honing my blade.
Catherine Brinegar is a trans game developer and filmmaker who explores the surreal and abstract in her work. Beyond her creative endeavors she enjoys losing herself inside other worlds, interactive and not. Finding inspiration in everything, Catherine aims to see all the world has to offer, through the continual conversation of art. You can keep up with her on twitter @cathroon.