2D stealth/action game Within the Blade from Ratalaika Games and Ametist Studio is ready for you on PS5. Check our Within the Blade review!
As I was doing research for my homework, I typed “Ninja” into a search engine, and I was surprised to see some guy called Richard Blevins plastered all over my screen. Who was this dyed hair…somewhat good-looking American guy? In an attempt to find out more about this world-renowned internet personality, I decided to keep digging. It was during my research I came across a game called Within the Blade, a game in the non-existent genre of Ninja-em-ups. Excited to learn more about my subject of choice, I decided to play the stealth-ish action-platformer from Ratalaika Games and Ametist Studio.
When entering the sprite world of Within the Blade, you would be forgiven for wanting to treat it as just another action platform much akin to contra and the likes. Within the Blade is a little more nuanced and deserves a bit more consideration than being seen as another 2D action platformer. What you have here is a game that really wants you to take note of the stealth aspect, treating each encounter as a puzzle at a more measured and controlled pace. Like any good action platformer, you are given a map dotted with enemies and are expected to make it from one side to the other while taking down as many as you can, but you are expected to be as stealthy as possible.
Catching enemies unawares is enthusiastically encouraged since catching a blind-sided enemy can net you a one-hit kill on opponents that would otherwise have a reasonable chunk of HP to their names. Quite a few times, I found myself performing highly visceral double one-hit kills on unsuspecting enemies, which I found to be oddly satisfying. Since the game encourages stealth, you can often find tall grass to hide you from enemies, and you can wait until enemies turn their back to you before you jump towards them to cut their heads.
You also have a number of tools at your disposal, from the obvious shurikens and kunai that you can use to dispatch unsuspecting enemies to the less mentioned bombs, landmines, and smoke bombs, to name a few examples. The game also features a crafting system, and you’ll sometimes find recipes for new weapons, items, and other consumables to help you, such as healing potions. You’ll use coins to purchase new recipes, materials, and weapons.
There will also be the option of visiting your Master to spend the experience points you get from leveling up – from all the enemies and bosses you defeat along the way – so that you can unlock new abilities, skills, and boosts. This skill tree has a lot of options for you to tailor your experience based on your playing style, so you can go for increasing your ninja’s hit points so that you can withstand more damage – which can save you from your mistakes – or unlock new combos and abilities that will allow you to destroy groups of enemies in a blink.
Within the Blade is a fun entry from Ratalaika Games with only a few niggles that detract from an otherwise enjoyable experience. For me, the main annoyance comes from the controls. For the most part, everything works perfectly. You use the D-Pad to move, the Square button to execute attacks, and the X to jump and double jump. Movement becomes an issue when it’s time to wall run. You can use X to jump or double jump against a wall and press up to run up the wall for a little bit. Should you wish to do so, you can use the momentum to jump to another wall, and doing this can prove to be very difficult during some platforming sections. It’s not a big problem for most sections of the game, but it’s still a pain when your well-crafted run is hampered by an ill-timed fall, only for you to land in the middle of a group of enemies who are more than happy to take away a chunk of your HP in a blink.
The game, whilst fairly grounded in its minute-by-minute gameplay, has a supernatural plot, and a number of the bosses reflect this. The boss fights are quite fun and are by far the highlight of the game. If you love Ninja, this game isn’t for you. But if you love actual ninjas and the lore surrounding them, then this game is one you’re going to enjoy on PlayStation 5 – and on PlayStation 4 since this is a cross-buy game. The stealth mechanics and the fun boss fights are more than enough to consider this a worthy recommendation, and this is without mentioning the more than reasonable $10.99 price.
This Within the Blade review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by Ratalaika Games.