ChronoBlade is coming to the OUYA, PC, and Facebook at some point, but enters its single-player open beta on PC June 26. Fortunately, thanks to having early access to the OUYA console, the only home console the game is set for release on, we can offer you some hands-on thoughts on the upcoming MMO. The demo version on the OUYA lets you play as one of two character types: a smaller character who deals less damage, but is fast, and a giant brute who can dole out tons of damage in each blow, but sacrifices speed for that power. There’s nothing unexpected with that, but the gameplay does feel completely different with each one given the enemies you encounter.
Lower-end foes are a bit more fun to beat with the swifter character since you can just dart around the playing field and attack them in any order you’d like. The feeling of sheer power as you mow through them in a couple of hits, however, can prove too tempting to resist — especially when you wind up chaining together combos. Unlike a lot of side-scrolling beat-em-ups, which this essentially is, there’s substantial depth in the combat. The gameplay style is fairly unique for MMOs anyway, but being able to link light attacks to strong attacks, then juggle opponents in mid-air with them before slicing them with light ones on the way down is incredibly addictive.
On-field hazards like bombs also play a large part in the combat since you have to make sure to avoid them and do your best to send foes hurdling towards them. That’s easier to do with the larger character, while avoiding them is easy to do if you’re speedy. You also have to make sure to not waste the bombs on small enemies as they can take a huge chunk out of a large one, who you’ll want to take out quickly since they can take hundreds of points off of your health in one shot and gang up on you quickly as the above video shows.
You’ll also notice that the shoulder and triggers are used for magic attacks while the d-pad gives you buffs like more damage and health depending on what you pick up before the battle and during it. These can make a huge difference when you’ve got a horde of enemies around you and you’re stuck trying to pick them off one at a time to get some breathing room. A single ice attack can freeze them in their tracks, let you escape immediate death and hopefully kill at least one enemy off completely. The OUYA pad works really well here, although one play session was marred by lag that caused a huge delay in reaction time and resulted in a fairly quick death. Given that this issue has affected numerous other games, it seems to be a hardware fault instead of software, which is a good-ish thing in relation to this game.
The screenshots shown on the official site look quite clear, and while the OUYA version certainly bears a resemblance to that, the finer details are lost and the close-up texture work is rather unimpressive. The grass on the battlefield looks fine from afar, but when you die near it, you’ll see it’s on the same layer and it looks very fake as a result. Still, the animations are quite smooth and while the character designs for enemies aren’t very diverse in the demo version, they do have a fairly good sense of size to them – with larger enemies seeming imposing just due to how much bigger they are than either playable character. The demo’s soundtrack is impressive, and blends fantasy music with rock. While it’s a mix that might not work in theory, it sounds good in execution and reminds me of something Tonesbonden would release. I also like the sick cackle the larger enemies had whenever they got it since it makes them seem twisted and just a disturbing-sounding laugh.
The full version of ChronoBlade’s release date isn’t yet known, but given that it’s in open beta, it seems safe to assume it will be out at some point later in the year. It’ll be a free to play title and so far, offers up enough fun even in demo form to warrant some time with when the full game hits. As a nice bonus, players on PC will be able to play with those on the OUYA at the same time, which should help the upcoming console since it’s an exclusive for the time being. Anyone who enjoys beat-em-ups will likely enjoy this, and it being free to play means that there’s no reason to at least give it a shot if you enjoy that genre.