Third Blade offers first rate combat, but hits a few stumbling blocks outside of the action
Third Blade is deeply, absurdly addictive in the way all good mobile games should be – it’ll keep you up long after you’ve told yourself to put it down. There’s just something satisfying about it. From the gorgeous, hand-drawn visuals right down to the way you feel when the weapon you’ve been saving up for all this time cuts through enemies like a hot knife through butter, Third Blade has it all. Well, almost.
The storyline is, at best, threadbare: your companion was kidnapped and you must rescue her. That’s really about it. There are no further companions to deepen the story, no twists in the tale to revel in and no explanation as to why you visit the various stages the game throws you into. Third Blade makes no bones about the fact that it is, for better or worse, really just there for the carnage. Fortunately, it’s also something that the game does extremely well.
Third Blade is tough. Though the fights get less painful as the game progresses, the difficulty level never quite dwindles to a point where it becomes a breeze. I made that mistake a little earlier myself, thinking that the new suit of armor I had purchased would make the next stage a joke. It didn’t. Third Blade will keep most on their toes, something that can make it both appealing and intimidating all at once.
As the shirtless protagonist, you have three forms of weaponry at your disposal: a pair of dagger-like items you can dual wield, a one-handed blade, and a two-handed sword reminiscent of Cloud’s infamous hand-held apparatus of doom. While players can easily cycle through all three depending on whim, it’s entirely likely that you’d end up forming attachments to one of three. Combat is simple and intuitive. You have your regular attacks which are dependent on the speed of the weapon, and then you have your ‘special’ attacks – unique skills with individual cool downs and exponentially higher damage. It’s pretty gratifying to rampage all willy-nilly across that pretty, anime-inspired map, but the game also rewards a proper chain of combos, and really, there’s nothing more satisfying than those enormous numbers.
Sadly however, the customization options are nowhere near as extensive as I would have liked them to be. Third Blade allows you to both purchase and upgrade new skills and equipment. However, in exchange, there’s only a finite amount of things to work for; you’ll never get more than those three types of weapons to use, the character will never learn to wear a shirt, and you will not get a pet to accompany you on your massacre. You get the idea.
Additionally, currency in Third Blade comes in two forms: runes and gold. The latter is easy to acquire, but the same can’t be said about the former. This is where micro-transactions come in. It’s fairly easy to gather runes in the beginning. However as time progresses, the number of runes dropped seems to dwindle. As a result, players will have to resort to purchasing more runes via astronomical amounts of gold, paying a nominal real-life fee or, as a one-time offer, write a positive review on iTunes.
Now make no mistake, I like Third Blade. I like Third Blade a lot. I like how the combat is paced. I like how difficult it stays. I even like the enemy design, though the developers could have done a little bit more work with the bosses. I’m still playing Third Blade; I played it on the subway from home. However, there’s something incredibly tasteless about the fact that they would use such underhanded freemium-style tactics in a paid game. That said, if you’re looking for a fever-paced little game destined to keep you busy for at least a few days, Third Blade remains a worthy recipient of your money.