by Jordan Helsley
reviewed on PC
You have become the Shogunate's deadliest warrior, a living weapon made to battle the Yokai. These deadly spirits have manifested themselves as robotic monsters with the intent of destroying the world. You're a warrior out of time, a demon hunter with cybernetic abilities, physically blind but enhanced enough to return to your former glory. You're also seemingly the last of the demon hunters, so you are engaged in a war you must win alone.
In contrast to your skillset, the first thing you do in Blind Fate is trip and fall. You walk through darkness until you're given a recreation of your physical surroundings: a modern day rooftop setting that is formed from data more than 500 years old. These recreations of your various settings are your main viewpoint for the world, and they're not always what they seem. Because these are dated snapshots of the environment, your enemies are not physically present. To see evidence of your foes you must sense other pieces of the world around you: sounds, smells and heat. It is a set dressing that begs to be experienced, but sadly does very little with the entire setup.
With the exception of discovering enemies prior to engagements, and a few other impacts, the nature of your vision and your senses minimally affect the side-scrolling gameplay or combat. Most of these fights are handled with your katana's three-attack string, your dodge, and a variety of finishing and finishing-adjacent moves. Your repertoire is a bit more expansive than that, including a Mega Man-style cannon attached to one arm, but it all does shockingly little to break up the combat monotony when most of your enemies fail to demand more of you. Enter the bosses.
Each boss in the game carried forward another combat tradition from the rank-and-file, they have far too much health. But while the game could be improved with a "more enemies, less health" mentality for the fodder enemies, it would have been greatly improved by fewer, or better, bosses. The named boss battles all share one descriptor: tedious. With only a rudimentary ability to recognize patterns and the skill to repeat the same button presses ad nauseam each boss can be defeated without much effort. Once you've mastered the pattern, expect to repeat the process for a while.
It feels like Blind Fate's biggest sin is that it doesn't trust its players. In the first boss fight, for instance, there's an intermittent environmental piece that is integral to the fight. Every time that very much hard to miss element appears it is accompanied by a cutscene. It adds to the tedium. The bosses never get complex enough to result in a true challenge. The standard enemies lack enough variety to be satisfying. Even your senses aren't used for anything other than the lightest of puzzles or adding needless complexity to item pickups. It's a shame, because watching the game in motion can be a treat. The art style consistently represents a "retro future" style, combining some portion of Edo-era Japan with a more modern touch all affected by a futuristic robot apocalypse. It feels like a game made purely to showcase an art style, with the gameplay, and story, happening as an afterthought.
Tripping over obstacles
Blind Fate is a game of interesting ideas, both in setting and in gameplay. There is a sense that the developers held back in far too many areas for fear of overwhelming the player, and it’s detrimental at every step. Watching it in motion is pleasing enough, but rote gameplay and a completely unremarkable story really hamstrung a game that could have ended up being something special.
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Beautiful art style and high-concept setting
Enemies have more health than combat has moves, exacerbated by tedious boss battles.