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Blade Prince Academy Review (PC)

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Blade Prince Academy Review

Indie developers will occasionally put their own spin on a popular genre, influencing gaming's future. In that regard, if Angel Corp. has accomplished anything significant, it’s to make a lasting imprint on the future of RTS gameplay. But first, let's go back to the beginning. Blade Prince Academy is your typical role-playing game. It has a beautiful anime graphic style with brush strokes that remind me of Hades. You draw from a dynamic ensemble to send out on do-gooder missions. However, you also sharpen your wits in tactical gameplay using actual RTS mechanics and real-time-with-pause combat. Does Angel Corp., however, meet all of the criteria for a worthwhile RTS? In our Blade Prince Academy review, they make the following case.

Chop Chop

Blade Prince Academy characters

A group of wannabe magicians enroll at the Blade Prince Academy. Like Professor X’s apprentices, they each have unique skills and abilities. They also have different backstories, which influence how they relate and connect. On one fine day, a group of thugs attacked the school. And while they manage to escape, it becomes clear they have deeper motivations that can potentially cause the downfall of the city of Abjectalia.

So, the headmaster sends out the Blade Princes, whom you unlock as you progress. Starting with a group of four, you take on varied missions across different biomes around the city. With time, you’ll face all sorts of enemies, including thugs, cults, monsters, and other enemy types. A larger mystery lies here. There is some darkness whose unknown source sparks intrigue. However, Blade Prince Academy is always rushing to wrap up plot points. 

The little context here is told haphazardly. You don’t see the invasion at the school unfold, nor do you experience the tense build-up that would power up the rest of your quests. The answer to the cause you’re fighting for hardly feels explored, hence the first cracks that let down Blade Prince Academy’s success. On that front, character backstories also spring to mind. I can’t quite put a finger on whether they’re too bland to care or simply rushed over too. 

In any case, the story in Blade Prince Academy is in desperate need of a facelift. Even as you go on missions, the headmaster runs them like a script. I mean, there’s no voice acting or anything, which is fine given Angel Corp’s small studio. Still, with the number of dialogue points you mindlessly click past and the variety of missions you take on, it feels like a huge lost opportunity to develop a deeper story you can connect to. 

First Looks

Malgadore the headmaster talking with Oren

At first sight, Blade Prince Academy is pleasing to the eye. Its anime-inspired art style jumps off the screen with delight. Characters appear as portraits whose brush strokes are as intricate as can be. The sprites, though, can use a little more love. Still, they serve their purpose, seamlessly working in tandem with portraits. 

Environments are serviceable. A few distinct features are going on here. You’ll explore biomes that begin to look similar and repetitive. Hardly enough places stand out. It gets the job done, is all. As a visual novel, plenty of the dialogue and story scenes are static. It would have been great to see some of the narrated plot points in action, but oh well. 

After every mission, your characters retreat back to the academy that serves as your base of operations. Here, you unlock new skills and upgrade characters. You can have worn-out party members rest up, literally sleep in beds, to regain energy. It’s also where characters hang out, thus creating a social space to spark random conversations about the missions, the academy, or life before the academy. 

Unfortunately, the social interactions don’t seem to have a structure or build-up. The goal is to build friendships, so having no point to pick up from later makes no sense. The conversations themselves are hardly enjoyable, either. Also, while growing relationships do seem to benefit combat and teamwork, you don’t get repercussions for ignoring them.

The Blade Princes

academy fight dogs

The blade princes are highly skilled magicians. They work in teams of four, combining their skills to unleash devastating and flashy combos. The core abilities are often physical or elemental-based. You also have your typical classes: melee, ranged, tanker, healer, and so on. 

Phoebos, the Wonder Child, wields dual swords that inflict AoE damage. O'ren the Deadly Sniper strikes down single or lined-up foes. Diamante, the Elemental Mage, unleashes ice to freeze and damage enemies, etc. In total, you can access up to 11 heroes, recruiting four at a time. It creates enough variety to carve out your unique playstyle and switch up gameplay from time to time. 

However, sticking with favorites does spark deeper bonds between them via social interactions, hence better leveling up over time. Overall, Blade Prince Academy’s combat is satisfying. It feels fantastic to string together combos and watch them play out exactly the way you intended them to. And while the first few missions are relatively straightforward, the more challenging ones in the latter stages do prove rewarding.

Take a Breather

Pause Blade Prince Academy

A significant part of combat is the pause function. Please don’t play the game without it, as mindlessly attacking will most definitely get you killed. You must pause mid-combat to strategize and re-strategize your next move. Perhaps change your minions’ positions. Is your healer taking up too much damage? You may want to move them further back behind a tanker, for example. Watch out for friendly fire, too, as any party member within another’s AoE damage circle will pay the price. 

In that regard, Blade Prince Academy does constantly keep you on your toes. You’re constantly scanning your environment for potential enemy hot spots and repositioning your party members in advantageous positions of fire. It can become a little tasking, though. You’ll lose count of the copious amounts of pausing you have to do. Still, it doesn’t get too bad to become frustrating.

Strike it Rich

Tactical Pause

Mission variety can become repetitive. With no one to interact with and witness testimonies of your work cleansing the city so far, missions lose purpose over time. Fortunately, you have pacts and enchantments to add layers to gameplay. Pacts are upgrades you scoop up in treasure chests. They’re tailored for specific characters and randomly placed, so some characters can go a while before landing theirs. Additionally, you can use enchantments to extend a pact’s usefulness, albeit with a smaller attribute boost than a pact. All of these help to level up your characters’ abilities and stats.

It means you’ll often backtrack to collect pacts and enchantments. Meanwhile, you lose out on experience points when you re-run quests. Luckily, missions only take a few minutes, so you can quickly jump in and out. There’s also a currency system in the form of skullz money to tinker with back at the academy. You earn skullz by completing missions and mini-games successfully. However, you lose it when characters are worn out or when you want to switch out a character’s pact, among other things. 

Again. Blade Prince Academy is an indie that you can hardly compare to full-blown games like the Persona series. Angel Corp. definitely has a lot of work cut out for them, especially in the story and environment departments. For now, though, Blade Prince Academy gets the job done. It's a practically commendable first step into, hopefully, more anime-inspired, real-time-with-pause combat gameplay. 


Blade Prince Academy Review

More and more games are experimenting with new ideas, and Angel Corp. hasn’t been left behind in the pursuit of more adrenaline-infused RTS games. It shifts from the usual historic battle RTS games we’ve been used to into a more focused anime-inspired RPG with a real-time-with-pause combat system. While there’s plenty to give a thumbs up to, Blade Prince Academy has just as much gameplay dragging it down. 

The story and character development need more time to bake in the oven. It feels rushed over without a sense of direction toward its grand purpose. It’s a classic tale of “show, don’t tell,” or lack thereof, that loses your attention and willingness to care for more down the road. Environments can be more loving. More intricate detail and striking features that are memorable, especially with backtracking for upgrades. Mission variety can also use a little more love to distinguish between them. 

Cons aside, Blade Prince Academy's combat definitely takes the crown home. It dabbles in new territory, experimenting with flashy anime spells and combos using RTS mechanics to plan out your every move. It pushes you to assess every scenario before making your next move while keeping an eye on your characters’ resources and health bars. It’s also a nice touch for characters to connect with one another via hang-outs at the academy, which, as a result, influences how well they work together in combat. 

The game works. It gets the job done. It’s passable enough for fans of RTS to give it a spin, at least to pass the time before Angel Corp puts out a, hopefully, much better sequel.

Blade Prince Academy Review (PC)

Duty Calls

While Blade Prince Academy gets many things right, it also needs more time in the garage to work out a few kinks. Its combat is undeniably fun, with a fresh take on the traditional RTS genre. Developer Angel Corp. combines anime-inspired art style with RTS gameplay to create a flashy and snappy real-time-with-pause combat system that RTS fans will enjoy. However, the story and character development can use a little more polish to create a more profound and intriguing experience. Nonetheless, it’s an admirable start. The only way to go is up.

Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.