2022 is the year of dystopian cyberpunk settings in video games. Not only is the game that was at the front of it all, Cyberpunk 2077, experiencing a resurgence in popularity, but there are plenty of indie games jumping on the wagon too. Games such as Akane and Citizen Sleeper are just a couple of games that picked neon backdrops.
Blind Fate: Edo No Yami is the most recent game I’ve managed to get my hands on that fits into this aesthetic. In it, the world is in ruin as machines run rampant, violently attacking those they come across. You play as a samurai who has lost his vision and must rely on his other senses to “see” the world around him.
To start with the positives, there is obviously a large amount of care that has gone into creating the game. The environments have a great sense of depth to them and convey the sense of atmosphere that the game wants to communicate to the player.
In fact, the overall sense of atmosphere is where Blind Fate: Edo No Yami shines. The voice acting is done very well, and the plot itself is surprisingly engaging for a game that, on the surface, looks like it would easily be lost in a sea of clones.
Sadly though, Blind Fate falls short in the most important area that a game should excel. The gameplay.
Combat is slow and clunky, not to mention repetitive and tedious. It’s a series of attack, attack, then dodge or block, before attacking again. As soon as an enemy reveals their move set, all that’s left to do is robotically press buttons until the fight is over. It gets even worse when fighting a boss with a massive reservoir of health, and slipping up just a couple of times can result in dying and restarting.
By its very nature, Blind Fate is a difficult game. But that difficulty is dependent on the player succumbing to tedium, not a variation of gameplay mechanics. Any game can be made difficult by giving enemies a large reservoir of health and making you wail on them for excessive periods of time. Eventually, most players will try to speed things up or make a mistake, at which point frustration takes over. Even after defeating these enemies, there is no sense of joy or accomplishment. Only relief that the encounter is over.
It doesn’t help that Blind Fate begins with you having several power-ups and abilities unlocked that are quickly taken away from you. I’ve never been a fan of this in games because I think it deprives of the joy of playing through the game, and experiencing those new abilities as we learn.
Another area where Blind Fate: Edo No Yami suffers is in input lag and button prompts in general. Movement is stiff and clunky, with even the basic platforming feeling unpolished. During fights button prompts would appear and many times, I’d have to repeatedly press the designated button hoping one of the hits would register.
Along with that, finishing moves would use the same buttons every time, so the button prompts felt unnecessary since they would easily be memorized by the third time you performed them.
Level design is also incredibly linear. The general theme is to move to the right, fight bad guys, and then move to the right a little more. Repeat that process a few times and eventually make it to a boss fight. Defeat the boss and the next area is more of the same.
Overall, the gameplay is just incredibly lacking. It’s a shame too, because a lot of work has obviously gone into the game and the different systems that have been built out for “seeing” the world are unique. However, they are a bit much at times, like needing to switch to use your sense of hearing or smell to pinpoint objects. There is definitely potential with the system though.
Again, the plot is interesting and the fact that an indie developer has managed to grab a fully voiced cast in their game is no small feat. Especially when the voice actors are able to actually do a good job in conveying the atmosphere.
But sadly, the awkward combat and controls are going to serve as a barrier for many people who might’ve wanted to experience the game in its entirety. For me, the input issues have been so frustrating at times that I’ve had to put Blind Fate down and take a break. I wanted to keep moving forward, but occasionally there would be dread in actually having to play it.
I hate to be so critical, especially when the team behind Blind Fate: Edo No Yami obviously have some good ideas. I just wish they could have executed them in a way that would allow for you to want to continue to play.
Blind Fate: Edo No Yami is available from the Xbox Store