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Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage (PC) artwork

Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage (PC) review

"Wuxia May Cry"

Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage asset

During times of turmoil, the populace looks to the skill and wisdom of honorable warriors for succor. Such was the case in South Martial World, where a mysterious menace besieged the land. Armed with only their swords and their wits, the heroes Soul and Shang arose to put the blade to the sinister forces plaguing the region, as depicted in the action title Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage. Through this game, we experience their perilous journey, fraught with eerie surroundings and opulent violence. We run alongside them as they eradicate knife-wielding maniacs and homicidal archers in a burning village, clash with chainsaw-equipped guards in a lofty pagoda, and mince football-sized flies and cocooned humanoids in the depths of a decaying forest. Needless to say, Soul and Shang are two men any villain would be loath to meet.

Rain Blood is similar to other hack-and-slash titles, in that you guide a swordsman in dispatching sizable contingents of foes with simple attacks. By quickly executing blows of varying strength, you can string together impressive combo attacks that not only fell the opposition with grace, but look downright brutal. For instance, delivering three consecutive light attacks with Soul enacts a series of flesh-rending swipes. From there, you can either continue performing light strikes to execute a series of quick but effective slashes, or you can toss in a heavy blow to cut loose a slow, devastating slice that stretches nearly halfway across the screen.

Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage asset

There's more to Rain Blood than mere slashing, though. For starters, you can swap between Soul and Shang in the midst of battle, provided that you have a full change meter (which automatically replenishes over time). This feature is a lifesaver, especially when one of your heroes runs low on HP and the other one has health to spare. Personally, though, I felt the characters' special abilities did more to bolster the experience than the character swap feature ever could. In particular, I dug Soul's "ghosting" technique, which allows him to instantaneously shift into a shadow-like form and pass through his adversaries. Using this skill, you can deftly weave across the battlefield and past obstructions and perils. Shang, on the other hand, sports a fairly useful (albeit less impressive) ability called "Swordkee," which he uses to conjure phantasmal blades. Once they are summoned, you can use those blades to shield yourself from blows, eliminate distant pests, or execute a double-jump maneuver.

Victory bestows rewards that go beyond mere survival, as you accrue cash and souls for each squelched villain. Between stages, you can exchange your riches for special accessories or upgrades that hone your swordsmanship. At the slim cost of a couple thousand souls and a common bronze idol, for example, your piddly hacks can develop into fatal cleaves.

Annihilating evil isn't much fun when an action game moves at a snail's pace or barrages you with repetition. Though some players have reported noticeable lag, I honestly didn't run afoul of any during my own travels. Rather, I found my playthrough to be rife with fluid animation and fast-paced action. It also helps that battles didn't consist of merely banal swordplay. Many of the game's scenarios kept me on my toes with tricky situations and perils. Several fights include multiple tiers and spacious gaps to negotiate, not to mention environmental hazards such as cascades of corrosive ooze. In one of my favorite scenes, I had to chop up a brigade of blade-wielding psychopaths on a puny boat and I had to do it while attempting to avoid descending cannonballs. Suffice to say, it takes more than plain button mashing to survive in Rain Blood.

Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage asset

I originally wished to start this review with a chilling description of the game's storyline. Unfortunately, thanks to a multitude of issues I had with its narrative, I couldn't make heads or tails of most of the plot. It centers around something about a flying naval vessel, a villain called "Mirage," the disappearance of a warrior named Jade, and a pair of swordsmen sent to investigate the incomprehensible mess of events. I'm really not sure how the various components relate to one another, and so I can only imagine that the central thread was lost in translation.

It wasn't a lacking mental capacity on my part that stymied my enjoyment of the game's storyline, either. I like to believe I possess at least of average intelligence, and have the wits to understand a thing or two about storytelling to boot. My biggest woe comes from the game's shaky script, which is riddled with spelling errors ("here" instead of "there"), grammatical faux pas ("bited" instead of "bit"), and confusing lines and/or descriptions. For instance, there's a scene in which a blind girl makes a noise that the subtitle describes as a "crying-groan-quite whoop," whatever that is... During another cutscene, the warriors converse with a boss who begins by telling them they have "done well to get that far." Shang responds with (sic), "I think a better question is, what could they possibly offer you?" At no point did anyone establish who "they" are, or why the question of what they might offer is relevant to the conversation at hand. Hell, no one even asked a question that begged Shang's "better" question!

To make matters worse, apostrophes are missing in action. This becomes problematic when you realize that certain contractions like "we're" and "we'll" become entirely different words without their apostrophes. Now pair that with lengthy subtitles that remain on the screen only briefly, potentially causing players to miss illuminating chunks of dialog, and you can understand why I wasn't able to follow the story so well. It didn't help that I missed whole lines because I bumped into instances of "we're" that read like "were," which caused me to constantly restart lines until they made sense. Of course, most lines disappeared before I had the chance to decipher them... Honestly, I think I would have better enjoyed the experience if the story were only more coherent.

Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage asset

At the end of the day, though, I still really enjoyed Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage quite a bit. Sure, the narrative suffered some major blows, but that didn't detract from the game's ability to wow me with swift, intense action. I had enough of a blast that should Soul and Shang return to Steam with their swords drawn, I'll be there to respond by brandishing my debit card. Still, it would have been nice to know what was going on throughout the storyline, to maybe even grow to appreciate the characters and their plight rather than admiring them strictly for their excellent swordplay.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Freelance review by Joseph Shaffer (November 23, 2013)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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