Is there anything scarier than suddenly losing all your senses? Not being able to see, smell or hear anymore, how would one go about their life? Surely, it would require huge modifications in our routine, or perhaps you could try augmenting the experience with cyborg modifications. That is what happened to our friend Yami, abandoned and alone, saved by the skin of his teeth from a demon’s attack and now depending on augmentations just to breathe. In our Blind Fate Edo No Yami Review review, we check out if all those mods add up to a good time or not.
The action game developed by Troglobytes studio, an independent Italian studio based in Madrid, brings us back to a very particular flavour of cyberpunk feudal Japan. The atmosphere and backgrounds, from classic Japanese countrysides to neon skyscrapers, are definitely top-notch all around, brilliantly revisiting something we have seen a thousand times. Graphically, also the game mostly fares well, with solid backgrounds and well-crafted sprites.
Following the story of Yami, we meet several characters like our cyber companion Tengu, while the story isn’t terribly interesting, it is easy to follow and the voice acting is well done. Clearly, one would expect the mechanic of the lost senses to be central in Blind Fate Edo No Yami, but… it actually isn’t. We’ll switch senses mostly to see our enemies and to interact, sometimes, with the environment. The effect when Yami plants his sword on the ground and updates everything around him? Love it. But it’s mostly kept to a minimum and you’ll be fine mostly just sticking to one sense.
Unfortunately, it’s the gameplay that seems to be the biggest problem with Blind Fate. Instead of going for a free-roaming 2D action game, you’re always closed in sequences of fights against various enemies, having to kill all of them off before Yami is allowed to proceed. There is, unfortunately, little to no exploration involved, just small stretches of walking around (with some unlockables to collect) before the next fight.
Blind fate expects you to learn and master a pretty complex combat system, with combo moves, special moves, and a system of “weakness” that involves hitting an enemy enough times and fast enough to make them go into a state of vulnerability. At that point, a quick sequence of moves just allows you to dispose of them. Also, each enemy has a particular weak point which will also allow Yami to quickly kill them. But, since the stronger special moves and attacks will be locked until the later stages of the game, the most effective attack mode is always to just wildly stab the enemy.
Basically, the game teaches you a lot of moves and then just offers a quick way to not use them at all, instead pushing the player towards repeating tricks ad nauseam to make quick work of enemies. Unfortunately, this is not a good time, as trying to exploit the weakness combo is held back by our stamina running out, thus preventing us to attack enough times before the bar resets. Repeating the same QTEs or combo is also, not very entertaining. While the combat system is definitely not simple, Blind Fate seems to just want the player to forget about it as soon as possible, and just exploit weak points or the weakness system.
With all the enemies basically being tanky bastards and your stamina running out almost immediately, despite having a number of skills and moves, the gist of the combat will be: get in, land 2/3 hits, dash back before the unblockable attack, wait for stamina to recover, repeat. That would be a relative problem, but there’s another huge issue: input lag. From a game such as Blind Fate, where even the basic enemy can kill you in a few hits then it would be expected to be smooth. There is quite a noticeably delay from pressing the button to Yami attacking, so much that pulling off a combo is just endless mashing, hoping that the game will register it.
Get ready to die a lot and be frustrated by how the checkpoints are very randomly spaced: sometimes just before the big fight, other times forcing the player to repeat entire combat sequences. Some of these annoyances could easily be fixed with a couple of patches, especially the input lag and checkpoints, but the design issues don’t seem to be easily solved. Blind Fate does feature a lot of interesting ideas, both in its combat system and senses mechanics, which are squandered by forcing the player to repeat the same attacks to make the fights shorter. The senses system also ends up having the same consequences: fascinating on paper, quite basic in practice.
Thus, my vote is meant to be one of encouragement, the game clearly shows a talented studio that clearly wanted to develop something different. The great art style and atmosphere definitely speak to their true passion and dedication to the craft. But still, Blind Fate Edo No Yami definitely needs work and a good QA session before it can be fully recommended to other action lovers.
Our Blind Fate: Edo No Yami review was made possible by a review key provided by the developers. Blind Fate: Edo No Yami is available on Steam, PlayStation, Xbox and Switch.
Blind Fate: Edo No Yami: Blind Fate: Edo No Yami, despite its fascinating gameplay ideas and unique atmosphere, fails to impress because of a lackluster combat system and issues with its core mechanics. – Damiano