Dynasty Warriors is one of the most historically accurate video games in the world. Army-slaughtering supermen were the order of the day in ancient China. But did you know that the Hundred Years’ War between the French and English had just as much carefree slaughter of the masses? It absolutely did, and you can learn all about it in Bladestorm: Nightmare.
Despite sharing developer Omega Force (Hyrule Warriors) Bladestorm: Nightmare doesn’t really lend itself to the sort of button-mashing carnage you seen in Dynasty Warriors. A port of the PS3 original Bladestorm: The Hundred Years’ War, what we have here is a thinking man’s game. Here you hold the attack button down to kill dudes by the dozen instead of mashing it. In all seriousness, though, there’s a little more going on than you might expect, and it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where you fit in during the early missions.
You’ll be playing as a created character rather than a historical figure as you’d expect from Dynasty Warriors. You’re a mercenary, meaning you aren’t associated with a particular squad of soldiers. Instead, you’re capable of switching from squad to squad; in fact, you can take command of pretty much any group you want, because apparently the French and British armies are totally fine with a sellsword doing that. Your leadership abilities are actually limited to the weapon books you’ve collected, but you start with a fair number of these and will rapidly find more as you play.
The key concept to learn here is that the game is based on a rock-paper-scissors sort of system. Infantry is great at closing in on archers, archers are (really, really) great at shooting cavalry and cavalry is great at running down infantry. You’ll want to command the appropriate squad to defeat whatever you’re fighting. Once you’ve got the hang of this you’ll be a lot more successful at capturing cities and completing missions. Oh, and I’m serious about the archers versus cavalry thing. It’s hilarious. Dead horses flying everywhere.
Naturally, there’s a character progression system in place as well. Each of those weapon books can be leveled up in a variety of ways, for instance. You can also purchase new gear for your hero and hire on mercenary squads in case there’s a particular weapon type you really love. Your character will grow in fame as you continue playing, as will your reputation with the French and British sides. You’re a mercenary, so you can take on whichever missions you please without being tied down to an allegiance, but this might have consequences if you’re too fickle…
Bladestorm: Nightmare takes its name from the Nightmare Mode, a new addition to the title that offers a fantasy-themed story instead of the historical Hundred Years’ War theme from the original game; the latter’s here in its entirety, by the way, so you’re not missing out. Nightmare Mode is significantly more difficult than the original campaign, so much so that you can actually import your character if you’d like. The fantasy theme means you’ll be fighting and controlling creatures like goblins and skeletons, though it plays a lot like the original campaign so there won’t be much in the way of system shock. Also, you fight Evil Joan of Arc, and that’s awesome.
Less awesome: the game’s got some nasty framerate issues that seemed to have been carried over from the initial PS3 release. Given that hardware like the PS4 and Xbox One is significantly more powerful, I can’t imagine why this still happens, but it does and it’s aggravating. Otherwise, the game is about where you would expect graphically for a Warriors-styled game, and there’s little to mention about the sound or voice acting.
As a Dynasty Warriors title, Bladestorm: Nightmare is…well, it’s not a Warriors title at all. Instead, it’s something new with a flavor all its own. Kind of like a crepe, I guess, or maybe fish and chips. The point is that if you enjoy the seemingly endless Warriors games but want something a little different, maybe a bit more on the cerebral side, you could certainly do worse.