It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… a guy with unusually long hair falling out of the sky and crashing head-first into a temple. Oops. This is how you’ll be introduced to everyone’s favorite Dragon. In short, Emperor Fang is an arrogant jerk who goes to a heavenly temple in the skies and demands that the creator of the world, Goddess Clunea, find him the strongest guy in the world so he can kick more ass and take more names. She basically laughs in his face and smacks him down to earth in a weakened state. Now that he’s a ‘fledgling’, a child-beast in the form of a humanoid teen, he’s forced to go through living temples called Titans to find the Goddess again and get his revenge.
After 300+ hours of time spent with the game, I feel I might have the qualifications to give it a score of badass/10. Which means 11. Maybe 11.5. But since I can’t actually score games I’ve worked on (some people might call that cheating), just remember the part where I started yelling at the screen because my favorite character, who is a Golem, started crushing on a loli Mandrake (this is actually a lot less creepy in context… okay, it’s kind of creepy in context too).
As someone who isn’t normally into dungeon crawlers, I wasn’t sure what to expect when playing Unchained Blades. I like fighting and I like dungeons, sure, but being a JRPG fan I love having my fully developed cast of characters and an engaging story even more. I’ve just never felt close to the “create your own character” thing. Or maybe I’m just lazy and don’t feel like picking out my mage’s hair color.
Luckily, this game gave me the best of both worlds. I had the pleasure of playing with an intimate, animated cast with their own goals, personalities, and relationships. When Tiana, a princess of the Phoenix Clan, proclaimed she wanted to turn into a ‘big, spiky dragon’, I wanted to slap her silly and ask what the hell kind of fantasies she was having involving dragons in the middle of the night. When Demon Clan Sylvie awkwardly avoided conversations concerning her mysterious brother Lucius, I wanted to know what thoughts were hiding in the back of her mind. I wasn’t travelling with faces and stats of my own creation; I was travelling with people who had stories to tell, and I was the one meant to discover them.
I was also worried that the combat would get repetitive, since, you know, it’s not a dungeon crawler if you’re not going through endlessly large dungeons and fighting difficult battles. Unchained Blades takes care of this as well by giving you various types of combat to play with. The first type includes traditional turn-based battles, in which you fight using up to four members of your party by blasting enemies with a series of fast, flashy and furious spells and skills. Along with that, you can charm the pants off of your enemies and bring them to your side so they become Followers, ready to either back you up in a fight (in fact, sixteen of these guys can be brought into battle at a time) or take damage in your place. Another type includes battles where your party is kicked to the curb and your Followers take the stage, fighting in battles presented by pressing a series of buttons on queue. Think DDR, only you’re dancing with your fingers and you might be a lizard instead.
The fully-fledged (get it? Because kids in the game are called fledglings hah) title Unchained Blades hits PSN today for a mere $29.99. Don’t complain, I got like 80 hours out of this game my first time around, not including side quests and a certain epilogue involving a 100-floor tower. Let’s see if you’re strong enough to meet with the Goddess and have a wish or two granted at the end. I bet you’re not. Go on. Prove me wrong.