Insanity’s Blade — the ultimate homage to the 8-bit (actually 16-bit) era

Hey folks!

Once again I looked around at Steam Greenlight. And suddenly I saw the game that I want to review today: ‘Insanity’s Blade’ by Causal Bit Games.

The Canadian indie development team mainly consists of two guys: the owner Christopher Obritsch who has been in the game development and graphic design industry for many years and the young developer/co-owner Daven Bigelow going to university additionally.

Insanity’s Blade is designed as a series of several games with ‘The Chronicles of Thurstan’ being the first one. With the game being strongly inspired by the power of the NES, its soundtrack is even playable on real NES hardware. Originally, the game should get a 8-bit appearance, but it was later changed to a 16-bit optic. Still, the developers want to keep the 8-bit graphics for a special mode. The music is stunning! (One part of the first level’s track reminds me somehow of the Pokémon fighting theme, but I guess it’s only me who hears it :D) Graphically, Insanity’s Blade clearly orientates itself by the NES and SMS optic; the colors and designs are fitting perfectly!

Insanity's Blade Special Attack

A Special Attack

The story is told in cutscenes (adopted from the  Insanity’s Blade graphic novel by C. Obritsch) between each level. It follows the eponymous hero Thurstan seeking revenge for the murder of his wife and son who were killed by demons. In a land, encumbered with a merciless curse, he hopes to save their souls this way. On his journey through hostile terrain and hordes of monsters, Thurstan is accompanied by a dwarf (at times playable) and the ghost of his child.

Being classic and modern at once, Insanity’s Blade is a 8-bit action platform game with rpg elements. Fighting through all the 18(!) stages you level up and unlock new moves such as wall jumping abilities. I’m really into the wall jumping mechanics and its animations. They are fun! You are also able to upgrade your weapons.

The first level, an introduction into the story, took me about ten minutes. It’s set in a burning village, but you get also underground. You primary fight skeletons and bats and try to avoid some flames. There are also some villagers running around or being captivated. You are able to free the latter to get some more exp. I died two times: the first time because of a mean trap (repeating in the second level) and the second time because I didn’t watch my health bar.

Insanity's Blade Boss 1

The First Boss

So, yes the game is challenging. The second level (the first actual one) is a forest full of diabolic animals and undead. It receives you with a shop where you can spend your collected money for upgrades and with downhill skiing on some bones. Most of the time you will fight and jump using two buttons. There are different attacks and you can also pick up torches. You always start with four lives and, if you die, you’ll restart at a save point. If all the four lives are gone, you’ll respawn at the beginning of the level keeping your collected exp and money.

A co-op mode is integrated, but it’s still buggy and only to use on the players’ risk. As Insanity’s Blade is in the beta phase, there are some smallish bug here and there. However none of them is serious, so the status is absolutely okay. The game is meant to be played with a gamepad, but you can also use the keyboard.

But instead of reading about the gameplay, you can check it in person. A demo is currently available on Steam Greenlight:

Insanity’s Blade is to be released in April 2014 on Windows, Mac and Linux.

My conclusion of this test: if you loved your NES or SMS and you just can’t get rid of the feeling that today’s games aren’t like games were back then, buy this game! If you don’t have this nostalgic feeling, you should at least take a closer look, because this game is definitely worth it.

A Gamer’s Panorama

Check out the gallery for more screenshots!



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