One of the genres that some may think isn’t getting enough attention is the character action game, which is full of awesome titles like Devil May Cry (Yes, including DmC), No More Heroes, God of War, Bayonetta, and so on. PC gamers don’t get as many good character action games though, so it seems that some developers are taking notice and making such games for this platform. ArcheBlade is one such game, which is also online so you can do flashy moves against other players.
ArcheBlade (not to be confused with ArcheAge) is a free-to-play third-person beat-em-up game by CodeBrush Games that allows players to battle against other players online with a character of choice. It bears a lot of similarities to Rakion, another free-to-play online action title that was released back 2005 by Softnyx. But instead of just 5 character classes to choose from, ArcheBlade has 14 unique characters to choose from. Each character has his/her own abilities, strengths, and weaknesses that can suit a specific playing style and strategy.
The way players can make use of these characters are like that in the MOBA game League of Legends, wherein you have in-game currency that lets you buy two characters at first, then you can buy some more as you earn more credits by playing and winning games against other players. You get to learn about the game and try out characters in the comprehensive tutorial and training modes, the latter of which helps you get a good feel for each character and help you choose which one suits you best.
You can join a game via lobby, which also lists games by ping, which is useful. Upon joining a game, you pick which character you’ll fight with, and you then get into the action. Aside from your primary and secondary attacks, you also have special abilities that can be helpful in certain situations, one of which can be activated once you fill up your rage meter. There are different game modes, like the usual solo and team deathmatches, as well as capture the flag and last man standing. (As long as you don’t join the games with ridiculously high score objectives, you’ll be fine.)
Despite the obvious potential of the dynamic gameplay and the lobby system, this game is still quite flawed. For instance, the hitboxes for most characters need to be worked on as there are times when you’ll be trying to hit them at the right range yet nothing is happening. The inconsistencies in combat make for a rather discouraging experience for those who picked characters that require more to hit compared to others.
This leads to the lack of balance within the character roster as there are some characters that are way better than others. The most prominent one in this case is Renoah, who is the female character with the dual revolvers and the double-barrel shotgun. She can just stand back and shoot everything that moves, and you’ll notice that Renoah players usually rank on top in most games. If you happened to have picked a character that requires you to be very precise to hit opponents, then you may have a harder time in getting good at this game.
A reconnect option could also help this game as getting disconnected in the middle of the game, whether due to ping timeout or some form of interruption, will result in leaving the game without getting any reward, which can be frustrating for a lot of players. The netcode itself is alright for the most part, at least a bit better than that of GunZ 2: The Second Duel.
There are also a few other things that players may not like, such as the voice acting of the characters with quotes that become repetitive after a while. The character designs are also thematically inconsistent, as if looking like they’re not in the same world, and the depiction of most female characters may also not be to everyone’s liking. But then again, this kind of variety in character designs is a standard in Korean online games.
Despite its failings, there is still a lot that ArcheBlade can achieve if ever developers patch up whatever is broken and add more to the gameplay, but only time can really tell if they’ll follow through with continued support for the game. Similar games before it have fallen by the wayside due to waning player numbers and various other problems, and it would be sad to see this game suffer the same fate. Apparently, it was released in Korea back in 2011, so it means that little to no bug-fixing has happened from then to its recent release on Steam.
The cons of ArcheBlade are unfortunate as the game is quite enticing for a lot of gamers, especially for those who like character action games. This is still pretty much a free-to-play game that is still playable, despite the bugs and other maladies.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 5/10