When I first booted up RainBlood Chronicles: Mirage, I thought I was in for a terrible time. First of all, my trusted wired 360 controlled wasn’t immediately recognized properly. I had to go into settings to manually map the buttons, which wasn’t something I had to do for a PC game in years.
The characters controlled stiffly and overall, while it looked pretty, the process of keeping a combo going felt overly difficult and arduous.
If I were playing this title as I were any other game without considering the aspect of reviewing it, I would’would’ve stopped there believing the game to be rubbish.
Luckily, given I was playing this title for review, I pressed on and found that past my bad first impressions was a solid spectacle hack and slash.
The story of Mirage is told like a folk lore passed on from an elder to their grandchildren.
It’s the tale of the martial world and a legendary vessel known of the “Lord’s Boat”. An emissary of the group “Cabal” known as “Jade” went missing while on the mission involving the mythical ship, and it’s up to two top agents of Cabal, “Soul” and “Shang” to locate the Lord’s Boat and find out just what became of Jade.
While the plot moves at a quick pace with plenty of foreboding in store, it’s not told entirely well and I found myself quickly lost, not so much on the events that were unfolding before me but rather of their significance. With many different characters leaving the stage as quickly as they entered it, I had a hard time keeping track of what and why I was doing a particular thing at any given time.
It’s made worse by the fact that the game ended rather abruptly without any clear resolution, as if it were setting up for a sequel. While I understand titles that want to end on a cliffhanger to make room for another in the series, it can always be done in a way that still leaves the player satisfied as to what they’they’ve accomplished and I certainly didn’t feel that way.
Luckily, that’s just the story, in which in a spectacle hack and slash matters as much as the color of the glove a fighter is wearing during a boxing match.
On the game play front, Mirage fares far better.
There are light and heavy attacks available to both Soul and Shang that can be chained for various results on the ground or in the air. The reason why the combat felt sluggish to me at the start was due to me not being used to the flow of combat and how after many attacks, there is a delay in which before and after, I cannot take any action.
While the pace of the combat is quick, it’s also methodical in the way that I had to get used to the animation of the two playable characters to properly time my dodges and blocks.
It took me about thirty minutes to really start getting into the flow of the combat and once I did, I felt like I was in control and doing exactly what I wanted to most of the time, which is crucial for a title of this genre.
The biggest gimmick or perhaps “hook” of Mirage is the fact that there are two playable characters and they can be swapped in on the fly every few seconds (there’s a slight cooldown) to initiate an attack and swap in for some action.
Soul played like a straight-forward character with an emphasis on mobility by dodging swiftly and landing quick strikes to fell his foes, while Shang felt more irregular and counted on his ability to summon spectral swords to do everything from doing damage to blocking
Shang reminded me of a little of Vergil from the famed Devil May Cry series and Soul, a bit more like Dante using the trickster style in DMC 3.
Given these two characters played very differently, there were situations where one was more suited to handle than the other, so I found myself switching back and forth as I saw fit providing a rather varied experience.
As I was playing as two different characters, I also had to upgrade and equip them separately, spending silver, gold and… a thing that looked like souls. While the actual items and skills I could earn were useful, the process seemed unnecessarily complicated.
Soul and Shang both had their own stash of consumables that could be traded in, which meant that if a player were to favor one or the other in combat, the other character would get left behind with no way to upgrade their skills or equip new items, which meant they would continue to go unused.
Even when I tried to spend some gold to get some souls for Shang to spend on his skills, the souls went to… Soul, the character (this is starting to get confusing) even though I was browsing the store as Shang! It’s a needlessly convoluted system that could’ve easily been streamlined and remains an unfortunate blemish of the title’s overall quality.
Clocking in at around five hours with a bunch of collectables waiting to be found in story stages a few multiplayer modes like Boss Rush, Tower and Duel modes, there is a lot to keep the players occupied and the content available is well worth the asking price for $15.
Mirage is a title that takes some getting used to, but once the player gets over the initial hump, there is a stylish spectacle hack and slash here the fans of the genre will surely enjoy.
Fun Tidbit: There’s an accessory that restores health every five seconds. Get it and upgrade it and never look back!
Review copy of game provided by publisher.