Doomblade Is a Cut Above Other Metroidvanias

In Doomblade, you play one of the last Gloomfolk and are suddenly spurred from slumber when a voice calls out to you. Upon finding the source of the mysterious call, you quickly free the sentient sword the game is named after, the Doomblade. Given a tempting offer by the Doomblade, the Gloom Girl takes up the sword in an effort to unseal its primordial strength, so that Doom and Gloom can unrepentantly destroy the Dread Lords who hold the world hostage and had long ago imprisoned the Doomblade and stripped it of its powers.

The premise of Doomblade is incredibly simple, which is part and parcel for many Metroidvanias. What Doomblade has to set itself apart from the rest, however, is style. In Doomblade, your movement and attack options are pretty uniquely tied together- with a click of the mouse, or tilt of the analog stick if using a controller, the titular Doomblade flings itself and eviscerates whatever unfortunate creature happens to be between you and where you want your character to go. Combat in Doomblade is eclectic and often at a fevered pitch, because one moment it will play like a standard Metroidvania, and then in others you’ll ping-pong from one enemy to another, attacking while also avoiding incoming damage.

Movement outside of combat in Doomblade is very similar to what you’d experience in other labyrinthine platformer titles. Gloom Girl can move left or right as normal, but in order to do big leaps, you generally need to slash toward an enemy, which means that enemy placement is also part of the puzzle of platforming in this title. While Doomblade presents as a 2D Metroidvania game, in practice it plays much more like a twin stick shooter where you navigate enemy attacks and fight the right enemy while getting out of harm’s way from lasers or bullets.

Enemies in Doomblade function as both obstacles to overcome and as ways for you to navigate the world, both in and out of combat. World traversal is one of those things that Metroidvanias are known for- typically, when you first reach a new location, you can’t fully explore it until you get some new exploration ability that lets you traverse new areas. Once you do get such an ability, it won’t be long before you’ll be needing to switch among them while airborne to reach new places and acquire new heart containers.

Doomblade does a great job of guiding player navigation through appropriate signposting; as an example, it’s easy to find where to go because of how well the game staggers progression abilities. While you explore, there’s a considerable number of lore entries for you to find all throughout the Lowlands, giving some backstory on the world and its central conflict. You’ll also find upgrades to extend your health bar, Gloomsouls to release, and various other things to keep you searching high and low in the Lowlands.

Later areas of the game wind up being quite entertaining to venture through, as you’ll unlock three different traversal abilities and will need to hotswap to them while in midair. Boss design is pretty decent across the board, though the developers who designed the fights seemed to enjoy using invulnerability windows or damage areas of effect where you need to slash from one mook to the next to stay out of trouble until the boss finally lets you hit it again. Every boss that can be remembered uses adds, but that’s more of a consequence of the design of Doomblade – without the additional enemies, your movement options become more limited, after all.

The artwork and soundtrack of Doomblade are amazing. While the environments do tend to be significantly red-tinted, the soundtrack is solid enough with several tracks that are perfect for getting your blood pumping. The visuals of Doomblade are very animated, fitting in with the world that’s been created, as every creature has a satisfying bounce while in idle or reel backwards before performing an action. The graphics are just great across the board, as it’s going to be rare to find another title that looks quite like Doomblade.

Due to Doomblade’s nature of requiring lots of enemies around to give the player more combat options to slash through, this does mean that it can be a sea of visual noise for your first hour or two. Doomblade does a great job of having you dip your toes into the water slowly, but you’ll eventually be required to make solid use of your movement abilities to simultaneously dodge attacks and chip away at the swaths of enemies that appear on-screen. There can sometimes be a bit of visual clutter when things get really intense, but it normally doesn’t take too much to quickly adjust and navigate through the enemies that exist primarily for you to slice through without a care in the world.

The majority of Doomblade that was played for the purpose of this review was done with mouse and keyboard, as it seemed like the easiest way to have the most accurate flight paths for cutting through legions of enemies. For those who do want to play with a controller, however, it is very well supported and has even had patches fixing its controller support, to boot. For those who’d like to play on a Steam Deck, Doomblade doesn’t run perfectly, though you should be able to lock the frame rate at 40 and enjoy a consistent experience all the way through.

All that being said, Doomblade is an excellent labyrinthine platformer, or if you prefer, Metroidvania. It boasts a combat system and control scheme that’s completely different from many others you may have tried, being less of a 2D action game by incorporating twin stick shooter elements to great success. If you’re looking for a title that’s different by most available metrics, Doomblade will be an amazing way for you to keep busy for five to 15 hours, depending on how much of a completionist you are, which is great considering its low price of only $15. If you enjoy 2D action titles with backtracking and loads of exploration, Doomblade may be for you.

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