Action Hack'N'Slash Indie Review

Bladed Fury – Review | Big Trouble in Ancient China

While there’s no shortage of games set in Japan, most gamers probably associate ancient China with Dynasty Warriors. China has a rich mythology of its own, one that seems like fertile ground for more games to explore. Bladed Fury, a stylish 2D action platformer from NExT Studios, aims to do just that. Let’s see how this tale of blades and betrayals stacks up.

A Princess Betrayed

Set in China’s warring states era, Bladed Fury puts you into the shoes of Princess Ji of Qi. After her father, the ruler of Qi, dies under mysterious circumstances, Ji is blamed for his death and forced to flee the kingdom. Ji believes Tian, one of her father’s retainers, set her up so he could seize power. She sets out to uncover the truth, prove her innocence, and avenge the injustice.

Some would prefer the truth stay hidden, and Ji is hunted by many foes. Fortunately, she is a skilled warrior, armed with both twin short swords and a heavenly greatsword. Ji is one more for action than talk, and her China is a chaotic and dangerous place. I was ok with that though since it means more of the best part of Blade fury: kicking ass.

Bladed Fury - Ancient China

High Octane Action

Bladed Fury’s combat is a mix of beat ‘em up and the dodge and parry dynamics found in games like Sekiro. Enemies can take some punishment before they go down, and you often face several at once. Using combos, knockdowns, and juggles to manage the battlefield is key to survival. Ji’s twin blades strike quickly and rack up damage on vulnerable foes, while her greatsword can break through armor and send groups of foes flying or crush them into the ground but has a brief windup. I often found myself first using the greatsword to smash apart groups before jumping in with the twin blades to finish off weakened enemies.

Ji can also dash through enemy attacks or block them with her shield. Blocking at the right moment results in a parry (confusingly called Precise Strike in the game), damaging nearby foes. The parry window is forgiving, but enemy attacks have varied timings you’ll need to learn. Some attacks can’t be blocked and need to be parried or evaded. These are indicated with flashing yellow or red characters right before the attack comes. Enemy attacks are relentless enough that it’s tough to avoid them all, but Ji can take a punch. Bladed Fury is also generous with healing, so one rough dustup doesn’t spell doom.

Bladed Fury - Combat

I enjoyed the pacing and challenge of the combat throughout. The greatsword feels appropriately weighty and decisive and the twin blades agile and ferocious. Enemies have enough health and armor to force you to fight tactically and use the tools at your disposal rather than button mash but aren’t such damage sponges that killing them feels tedious. Bosses are challenging and varied, both in their looks and movesets, and provide exciting exclamation points to the action. My one quibble is that changing directions feels a tad sluggish.

Defeating enemies yields souls that you can use to unlock and upgrade a few additional moves. My favorite was the charge-up attack for the greatsword. Many games make such attacks too difficult to execute with too little payoff, but Bladed Fury gets it right. Ji leaps across the screen with devastating impact once the attack is fully charged. You can even upgrade the technique so Ji holds her poise and can tank through hits while charging. Powerful foes also yield soul slivers when slain. These can be used to summon their spirits for aid in battle, with a variety of effects. My personal favorite is the hilariously anachronistic laser cannon.


Unfortunately, the otherwise strong gameplay is marred by a few technical issues. Bladed Fury is prone to stuttering, especially when there’s a lot happening on screen. It’s especially frustrating when this causes you to miss on the timing of dodges and parries. I also encountered a crash right after defeating a boss and another game-breaking bug when an enemy got stuck in the ceiling and I was unable to advance. These problems aren’t enough to ruin the experience, but they are annoying. I only played on the Nintendo Switch, so I can’t confirm whether these happen on other platforms too.

A Tired Tale

Bladed Fury sets out to tell a classic tale of revenge but does a poor job of it. Dialogue consists primarily of exposition dumps and characters spouting sophomoric platitudes at each other. Some characters appear without any explanation of who they are either. Most of these seem to be beings from Chinese folklore that a Chinese audience might be expected to know, in the same way the Grim Reaper needs no introduction to a Western audience. Still, as someone unfamiliar with Chinese mythology I found this confusing and disjointed. Ji’s journey also lacks focus. The specifics of her goal are never clear, and she goes on several detours that feel narratively irrelevant. The ending would have been disappointing had the game succeeded in getting me to invest the story or any of the characters, but by that point I didn’t care and just wanted to hit things with my swords.

Bladed Fury - Story

Art, Sound, and Extras

In contrast to the weak story, Bladed Fury has great visual flair. Characters and backgrounds appear lovingly hand-drawn. Animations are fluid and give exactly the visual cues you need to make sense of the action. The brushstroke lines and paper-like 2D textures evoke the aesthetic of traditional Chinese art and calligraphy, while the colors are vivid and varied throughout, from the ethereal blues and greens of the underworld to the smoldering reds and grays of a fort under siege. The enemy designs are just as striking. You’ll face foes ranging from fearsome generals clad in lamellar armor to headless monstrosities with towering shields, and all of them jump off the screen.

The sound design is also strong. Traditional music and instruments build an ambiance that complements the impressive visuals, and sound effects enthusiastically punctuate the action. Landing a good hit never fails to reward you with a satisfying clang. The Chinese voice acting is mostly stoic, but it works. The resulting tone of Bladed Fury’s voiced dialogue emulates that of a historical drama or a martial arts movie.

Bladed Fury is a linear game that can be completed in about 5 hours. Exploring dead ends can sometimes yield rewards like caches of souls, but you never need to search far. There isn’t much in the way of extras either. Completing the game on normal difficulty unlocks hard for an additional challenge as well as a boss rush mode. Even if there’s not much to do once the credits roll, the main campaign doesn’t waste time. It’s an action-packed 5 hours.


Bladed Fury is worth playing for its exciting combat and striking visuals. Ham-fisted storytelling and a few technical hiccups mean it doesn’t measure up to the best action platformers, but it’s still a fun romp through ancient China.


Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC

If you find yourself wanting more Hack’n’Slash action, check out our review of Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate.

Many thanks go to Numskull Games who provided a Nintendo Switch review code for this title.

If you’d like to see more articles from us, please remember to follow us on Twitter🐦 and consider turning notifications on. Or type in your E-mail address and click the button for free email updates. You can also come chat with us on Discord.

Support High-Quality And Detailed Coverage

Want to support the cost of us bringing you these articles or just buy us a coffee for a job well done? Click the Ko-fi button below. You can even find some digital goodies in our shop~!