Developer: Waterlily Studio
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Controls Rating: ★★½☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★½☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★½☆☆

BladeSmith wants to teach players that samurai swords aren’t just these awesome tools of death that simply will themselves into existence. They are also meticulously sculpted works of art made by highly trained professionals. It’s ironic and unfortunate then that a game about the importance of good craftsmanship is this poorly made.

blade smith 4BladeSmith plays almost like a cooking game, but instead of whipping up tasty meals players create their own lethal swords from scratch. There are different types to choose from, like the short tanto or standard katana, along with different kinds of heating fuel. From there, apprentices play a series of minigames simulating the sword-making process through clever uses of tapping and pinching. They’ll hammer out the steel, monitor its temperature, change its shape and thickness, add visual flourishes, and dunk it in water to cool off. Once finished, artisans can play one final slicing minigame to determine the sword’s strength and value before selling it to their lord for more forging materials.

bladesmith 1Conceptually that all sounds great, and admiring the impressive 3D model of the completed blade is legitimately cool. But all of BladeSmith‘s neat ideas are crushed by the nearly incomprehensible presentation. Much of the dialogue tries to be profound Japanese wisdom, but the frequent spelling and grammatical errors just turn it into gibberish. Meanwhile, menus randomly switch from vertical to horizontal or sometimes have elements going both ways at once. When the game eventually does start, the instructions for each minigame barely explain how they work, and even when players do figure them out the laggy controls and graphical glitches lead to frequent restarts. But what’s most discouraging is that when players do finally bang out a sword, the game does so little to explain why the sword is good or bad and how to improve it that players won’t want to make a better one to earn a higher online ranking.

No one is saying making a sword should be easy. But when one toils over a burning furnace in real life they at least get a beautiful weapon out of it. BladeSmith demands almost as much labor without nearly enough of a payoff.

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