Ghost Blade HD Review

Ghost Blade HD Review
Developed by Hucast Games
Published by Eastasiasoft
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 (also available on Steam) 

 

Ghost Blade HD is the latest shoot ‘em up from Hucast Games, who are known for developing retro-styled titles including the Dux series. It follows the established “bullet hell” sub-genre that involves dodging daunting bullet patterns and defeating foes with spectacular firepower. Ghost Blade HD closely adheres to shoot ‘em up conventions and may feel overly familiar to genre veterans, but it is still a fun experience full of hyper-saturated action.

Ghost BladeThe game’s straightforward mechanics will likely feel familiar to many players. The game consists of five stages full of enemy waves and a boss. Players can move their ship in eight directions, acquire power-up icons to increase their firepower, defeat incoming waves of enemies, and avoid enemy fire. The player’s ship can perform standard rapid fire, create a focused narrow laser that deals more damage while lowering movement speed, and unleash bombs. Each stage alternates between different enemy types, which encourages the player to switch between different attacks. Full screen waves of small enemies are easier to dispatch using the standard rapid fire. However, the focused laser defeats larger enemies more quickly. Alternating between these modes while dodging incoming waves is key to victory.

Ghost BladeThe game’s scoring mechanics are fairly basic, but a handful of ideas shake up the formula. Ghost Blade HD’s simple scoring mechanics enable players to rack up points by performing well and taking risks. The player’s combo multiplier increases with each defeated enemy, but it will reset after losing a life. Defeated enemies drop gold icons that boost the player’s score. Defeating enemies up close can spawn more icons, which rewards risk taking. Upon stage completion, players receive point bonuses based on obtained collectibles, the maximum reached combo, and the player’s remaining lives and bombs. These mechanics function well, but they may feel like standard fare to experienced players. While not new, another interesting idea is being able to defeat larger enemies and convert their on-screen bullets into gold. Furthermore, destroying enemies with the laser will also spawn “Tech Orb” items alongside gold icons. These orbs fill a gauge that will bestow an additional bomb to the player when filled. The flood of icons on screen can seem a bit excessive and there is a general lack of explanation, but the game is fairly straightforward.

Ghost BladeOne particularly standout feature is the game’s high degree of customization. Since Ghost Blade HD is a vertical shooter, it has letterboxing by default and does not occupy the entire screen space of most displays. Much like other vertical shoot ‘em ups on home platforms, however, Ghost Blade HD enables players to rotate the image for a vertical display. While many shoot ‘em ups allow players to alter the heads-up display and pick a side bar image, Ghost Blade HD allows players to alter the background brightness and even icon opacity. Given the game’s highly vibrant backgrounds, changing the brightness can help players better read the chaotic bullet sprays on screen.

Ghost BladeUnfortunately, the in-game information is lacking, and some more supplementary material may have helped create a more compelling experience. The game lacks any sort of exposition whatsoever, and the plot, conflict, and setting details are left up to the players’ imagination. As contemporary shoot ‘em ups have tended to frame their conflicts with interesting characters and settings, it feels a little sudden to be immediately thrown into the game. Players can pick between three characters and three difficulties, but the game itself provides no explanation as to how they differ. The player can pick between one of three comic-inspired female characters, but the only way to discover each character’s shot patterns is through trial and error. Furthermore, the game does not list names under the characters’ art, and the only way to see any ship names is to look at the high score rankings. Picking the Easy difficulty will also cause the player’s ship to expend a bomb instead of losing a life when hit, but the game does not mention this behavior at all.

Ghost Blade HD provides standard shoot ‘em up content with energetic tunes and vibrant visuals. With a five-stage arcade mode and a separate score attack stage, the game’s replayability hinges upon completing all difficulties and achieving high scores. Fortunately, the game intensity ramps up quickly and surviving the game’s bullet patterns can require quite a bit of effort. Players are also able to enter individual stages and boss fights in training mode. Each stage is full of colorful futuristic sci-fi environments consisting of interplanetary vistas and mechanical battlegrounds. The enemy vehicle sprites are crisply designed and generally easy to see. Unfortunately, some of the explosions and other visual effects seem slightly dated relative to the backgrounds and sprites. The music is well crafted, and players can expect to hear some energetic electronic tunes while playing through arcade mode. The score attack mode is accompanied by an upbeat rock track that fits well with players’ attempts to dodge bullets and defeat swarms of enemies.

Ghost BladeWhile Ghost Blade HD closely follows conventions of the shoot ‘em up genre, its dense bullet patterns and high octane action provide some thrills for veterans and newcomers alike. Despite lacking explanations and exposition, the game is a respectable, fun title with a fair amount of replay value.

 

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Vincent Lai

Vincent Lai

I'm a gaming enthusiast who enjoys a variety of platforms! I also love wisps, rainbows, and gardens!

Graphics
14out of 5
Audio
14out of 5
Gameplay
12out of 5

Overview

Ghost Blade HD provides a fun, familiar shoot ‘em up experience full of customization options and dynamic visuals.

3.25

3.25 out of 5
Average

Tags assigned to this article:
eastasiasoftGhost Blade HDreviewsvideo games

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