Spin-to-win is the name of the game in DreamSail’s Blade Ballet…
The number of games built for local multiplayer competition, as opposed to traditional fighting games, has been on the rise for the past several years. The genre contains two types of games, with games like Niddhog or Samurai Gun emphasizing tight controls and simplicity of competition, and titles like Gang Beasts and Duck Game embracing chaos and complexity. Blade Ballet, a new game from DreamSail Games, is firmly in the latter category.
The art style and graphics of Blade Ballet work fairly well together and look pretty nice, if perhaps a little plain. There just isn’t much to say about the game’s style. It isn’t a bad looking game by any stretch of the imagination, it just doesn’t do too much to stand out. What Blade Ballet lacks in style it makes up for in personality, however. The visuals aren’t the most eye-catching, but they do a good job, along with the sound design and music of conveying a lively, whimsical atmosphere which is one of the game’s primary strengths
The gameplay of Blade Ballet is fairly fun and gets more fun the more people are involved, which is par for the course in games of this type, or any type of game. Players control one of up to four hovering, spinning robots with a variety of weapons, defenses and powers. Players control the direction of the bot’s movement with the left thumbstick and the direction of spin with the shoulder buttons. Bots also jump and deploy special abilities using the face buttons. Overall, the control scheme is intuitive and simple to use, which is a crucial aspect for a game like this. In one versus one matchups, the combat is a bit strategic but mostly silly with common accidental deaths. As players are added, the gameplay gets less strategic and becomes more of a free for all, which is sort of the point.
The Robots of Blade Ballet are a fairly balanced group of characters that will fit a reasonably wide swath of play styles. Some are faster, lightly shielded bots made for offense, others more beefy, built to survive. Some bots are more focused on spinning attacks, others on straight line dash attacks. Attributes like movement and spin speed are different from one robot to the next, as well. One ability, a straight line lunge, gets reused for multiple bots without a great deal of change, which seems a bit unimaginative.
There are currently three playable modes available in Blade Ballet, Robomination, Overclocked, and Blade Ball. Robomination is the Blade Ballet version of deathmatch, with each player starting with a limited number of respawns and the player achieving the most kills winning the match. Overclocked is a timed deathmatch mode with the player with the most eliminations when time runs out being the winner. Blade Ball is essentially a soccer match grafted on to the existing Blade Ballet gameplay.
The maps in Blade Ballet are, for the most part, well thought out and fun to play on. True to form for this type of game, many of the maps include various environmental hazards that add considerably to the chaos and fun of the game.
Unlike many games of this type, Blade Ballet supports online play. A lot of what makes the game fun, namely having other people in the room, is lost with online play, but it is a nice addition to the game. It must be noted, though, that finding a match on PC was somewhat difficult without resorting to a developer created Discord chat channel. The Discord chat is a nice touch, but its necessity is a bit unfortunate.
Blade Ballet is available on Steam and PS4 for $14.99, which seems to be the going rate for this type of game. In a market that has been flooded with games like this, though, Blade Ballet doesn’t do enough to stand head and shoulders above the rest. It is a good party game, so people who host game nights are a good audience, as are families because of the ease of pick up and play. Kids will also probably have a good time with Blade Ballet. This is a great game for some people, but many simply don’t need another game like Blade Ballet.