Overall Score 80%
Mythic Blades is a beat-em-up in the classic style, in every sense of the word. With a story based on Greek mythology, two large characters battle it out in a quest for supremacy. As you might expect from a one on one game, there is not much in the way of story progression but a points-mean-prizes system gives repeated victors access to different features and even a gallery of concept artwork.
Art is a key part of this game. Mythic Blades is certainly the most graphically impressive independent game I've reviewed in the two years since Bytten was founded. The game is loaded with high quality visuals, both in terms of the 3D action and the front end. I particularly liked the dark backdrops that look like ancient pottery scenes, and there is a great glow effect on the characters.
The players are all large on the screen and visually very impressive. Weapon swipes glow and everything looks pretty much like a console game. Medusa (yes, she does have a petrify attack) looks particularly good with excellent snake skin on her twin tails. The Hydra of Lerna, here with four heads, is less impressive but generally the chracters look fantastic, with the armoured Odysseus looking every bit the hero.
As you might expect, the only game type is a basic fight although you can set the duration and number of rounds. You can play solo against a stream of computer opponents, or pick a battle with a friend. As is customary, each character has two outfits so you can play like against like. Click start, select a character from the rotating display and let battle commence.
In the gameplay area I had a few issues with the game. Characters have several attacks. Normal weapon swipes or kicks will be familiar to anyone who has played a weapon based fighter such as Soul Caliber. Naturally, various special moves can be performed too, and many characters use the same combo controls making it easier to learn the moves.
The third type of attack is a god attack. When your power bar is full, you can press a certain control combo to unleash a powerful god attack that differs per character. According to the manual these are blockable but I haven't yet worked out how, and these are all pretty devastating. The god power bar goes up most when you are hurt, so the loser is rewarded. This seems a little counter-intuitive and it can mean that you chain together hit after hit on a hopeless enemy only to have them hit back with a god attack to wipe out your hard fought advantage.
God attacks look really impressive the first time, but the long pauses in the action can really harm the excitement factor. It becomes pretty frustrating to have a frenetic battle stop completely while you watch your helpless character get pummelled for five seconds at a time. I admit that I didn't like the god attacks and would have liked an option to play the game without them. A shortcut the manual is not provided, but after seeking the docs folder I found it to be a very well produced and vital resource. The first time I played Mythic Blades I died quickly, and the second time, and the eighth time. I then quit and consulted the manual, and after memorising a few combos I tried again as the cyclops Polyphemus and easily beat every opponent using no tactics other than mad random bashing of the hit controls.
The lack of block moves makes the action based on attacking and there are not many tactics. Hippolyte's arrows in particular were frustratingly unerring. One measure of balance in a fighting game is how long you can last by blocking and avoiding being hit and that is not very long at all here. Importantly, the hit detection works well and errs on the side of hitting. Complete the game as one character and you gain points that can be spent on unlocking new characters, or even on a visit to the game's concept art gallery. Hidden scenes and characters give the game depth and add to the value although like any beat-em-up, the multiplayer factor is what gives the game the most replay value.
There are many informative cut scenes both at the start of the game and for each character, which consist of text over gently scrolling and fading artwork. The pictures are great, but these scenes take far too long which means that almost everybody will skip them without even reading them once which is a shame. The mythology is well researched, even if the Sphynx looked more like a Harpy to me (the Sphynx being more famous for her riddle). The orchestral music suits the game perfectly and the sound effects that are present are first class. Some speech for the stories could have livened up the audio though, I was left to imagine the voice of Zeus during the intro.
Mythic Blades is a beautiful game with excellent presentation and full price production values although the gameplay doesn't do justice to the artwork.
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