Thank you so much to Frozenbyte for providing a review code
Boreal Blade is a team-based sword fighting experience with a focus on multiplayer online matches. The premise is about fighting in teams with weapons such as swords, axes, spears. You can use these weapons to impale and kill the competition.
There isn’t a story really to speak of in Boreal Blade. Instead, the game focuses on its weapon mechanics and controls to keep you engaged. These unique mechanics make for a quite an interesting combat experience.
One aspect that is apparent from the very beginning is that there isn’t really any sort of single player content available in Boreal Blade. This is a game that is solely focused on online play.
There’s a brief tutorial to get you started in the beginning and a training hall if you need to perfect your swordsmanship. The best way to learn anything is playing with other players and experiencing what unscripted fights are actually like. These will help you to understand the controls better. It’s easy to hit a stationary dummy, but once you’re playing online with real enemies, it can become quite fierce and challenging.
Even though you may have died during your first few matches, there’s always a chance to get revenge on a second attempt. It’s all about timing, placement and attacking when there’s an opening. Otherwise, you may leave yourself open to an attack, which could result in your demise. So think fast and act accordingly to benefit from your enemy’s mistakes!
Every win will give you experience to slowly level-up, which in turn unlocks new weapons and armor for your character. On your first journey into this new online experience, you’ll only have a two-handed sword and light armor. However, if you continue to fight and level-up you can unlock hundreds of weapons and armor to customize your character with.
Controls: The Art of Swordsmanship
Let’s take a look at the controls in Boreal Blade. You can move your player around with the left analog stick and run by pressing the stick in. You can also move the camera around with the right analog stick.
One of the unique aspect of the controls is that you can change the direction of your attacks by holding the ZL trigger and using the right analog stick to change the weapons trajectory. This allows you to attack from different angles.
You can also attack with the ZR trigger and hold it for a few moments to charge for a more powerful blow. Some weapons have longer charge times than others though. The R bumper allows you to focus and if you land a hit when focused you can regain some hit points during combat.
You can also roll when you don’t have your weapons equipped otherwise you will perform a quick strafe. You can perform this move with the B button and you can also kick with the Y button, which is useful for knocking enemies off ledges. By pressing the X button you can drop your current weapon. This can be useful if you see another weapon on the ground that you would rather have.
When your weapon isn’t equipped you can tap the ZL trigger to arm yourself or the directional pad to disarm. If you want to impale your foes you can do that by tapping the L bumper and using the right analog stick to aim. This move can only be used once your special gauge is full.
The controls can take a while to learn, but stick with it and you’ll get the hang of it.
As you level-up you’ll notice that there’s a large variety of weapons to choose from. You start off with a battered sword, than move up to a coastal saber, before maybe wanting something a little more pointed like the northern spear. Each of these and more can be unlocked. You can also equip shields for extra defense.
All weapons have their own stats and abilities, which you can look at in the weapon selection menu. To add even more variety to the gameplay, there are items that grant you special abilities on the field such as smoke bombs and explosive bombs.
You can also unlock 4 pieces of body armor which are helmets, gloves, leg armor and body armor. Much like weapons each piece has its own rarity and some may possess unique abilities.
Clothes can also be fine tuned with different colors that add a little extra customization. I thought this was a really nice added touch, so you can personalize your loadout. It’s likely you could spend a few weeks, maybe even a few months to unlock everything Boreal Blade has to offer.
The Art of Combat
The combat can feel strange at first, but it only took a few matches, before I was slaying countless unfortunate players with my broadsword. You can choose whether you want to go for a more defensive or aggressive style of combat. For those who like to play aggressively you can use a two handed heavy weapon and go all out. More defensive players can wield shields to defend against enemy attacks and create openings.
The best course action is to take it easy and wait for an opening, then attack. If an enemy is standing with their sword to the right, you want to attack the left hand side to exploit their weaknesses. While shields can be destroyed, they offer extra defense, which I found to be very useful, during combat.
Another important aspect to pay attention to is your special meter. Landing attacks increases your special meter and will allow you to impale your enemy. Your impale is quite strong and it feels very satisfying when you land it on an enemy.
Also, always pay attention to the area around you. If a match drags on too long the area around you will start to close in. Being outside the closed in area will start to drain your health.
Before you can enter the fray you can select if want to host or join an online match. There are 5 game modes to choose from such as Duel, Boreal Claim, Boreal Battle, Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch.
I found most people were playing the deathmatch game mode which also seems to be the most enjoyable experience.
The online is fun and I only had a few matches where someones connection caused some issues. Other than a few issues the online matches went smoothly.
Boreal Blade does unfortunately have a few performance issues. I did experience a few bugs like clipping through walls and getting stuck on obstacles in certain areas. For the most part these issues didn’t significantly hinder my experience, but they were annoying.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Boreal Blade. It’s an interesting fighting game that ends up being a ton of fun. The cell shaded visual design work really well with its overall presentation, and the soundtrack keeps you focused with the beating of drums and screams of helpless victims.
I wish there had of been a single player mode and a few more customization options at the very beginning of the game, but still there’s tons to unlock and enjoy here.
The controls can take a little while to get used to, but it’s still a unique fighting experience on the Nintendo Switch and one that I think is a solid investment for fighting game fans. It has a few issues, but it’s definitely still worth a try.
Note: If you do want to try Boreal Blade there’s a demo that will allow you to play online and experience it for yourself before purchasing.