In 1560 A.D. Japan, the nation has fallen into chaos in a blood-filled civil war. Play as a ninja warrior in Within the Blade as you attempt to bring peace to Japan by decapitating your enemies and assassinating the enemy warlord. Akin to classic ninjas of a bygone gaming error, Within the Blade looks to take what made these games so popular in the first place and implement its own ideas.
Within the Blade is all about kicking ass and taking names as quickly and as stealthily as possible. If performed correctly, you can pull off multiple maneouvres like decapitating your enemies (allowing you to avoid hand-to-hand combat) and throwing shurikens. With its classic Sonic The Hedgehog-like level design containing multiple pathways, it's incredibly satisfying to know that the quicker you complete the level whilst being aware about not being detected adds to your EXP.
Speaking of EXP, Within the Blade boasts a suprisingly deep skill tree. There are a heap of upgrades to improve your character, including statistical upgrades, new moves and new weapons. Whilst the game in its entirety can be finished within 3-4 hours, the skill tree was much more robust than I initially expected and for that, I must give credit where it is due.
There's a whole lot of attention to detail in this game's setting that replicates Japan's famous Edo period. The village, whilst simply being two-dimensional with little-to-no variety, is brought to life by the classic Japanese lifestyle. You can see how Within the Blade took a lot of its influences from classic 20th century samurai movies.
- Stealthy speedrunning
- A surprisingly deep skill tree
- Beautiful Edo-Japanese setting
Within the Blade features an ambitious crafting system that is, quite frankly, a cumbersome mess. The button choices lack intuitive design and quite often, I found myself wasting items just trying to work out how it worked. You'll also come across an abundance of items at any given point which, instead of feeling like rewards, come across as a choir, almost akin to a cheap mobile game.
The story is nothing to write home about, rather it's the setting (as previously mentioned) that drives home the game's personality. With that being said, any attempt at a story is greatly diminished when you come across the odd typo and grammatical errors. This always feels like a snobby nitpick when stating this in reviews but when it's right there in front of your eyes, you can't help but wonder how much it would've cost to get someone to proofread the script before programming it.
Despite its beautiful Japanese setting and neat 3D roof running effect, Within the Blade resembles a flash game first-and-foremost. It looks - fine... but it's just nothing impressive going on here and its art style may turn off potential buyers.
- Cumbersome crafting system
- Infrequent typos
- Looks like a flash game
Final Score: 5/10
While there are certainly some better 2D ninja action-platformers on the Switch (The Messenger and Cyber Shadow, to name a couple), Within the Blade may appeal to those looking for more ninja fixes. Its convoluted crafting system and item management becomes a hindrance more than anything and its story leaves a bit to be desired. Within the Blade is a highly ambitious game that does a lot right but at the same time, it also lacks where it matters.
Thank you for checking out our Within the Blade Switch review, thank you to Ratalaika Games (via PR Hound) for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: