Stray Blade is a Souls-like, RPG title from indie developer Point Blank Games. You play as Farron West, a self-proclaimed adventurer, who meets an untimely demise when stumbling across The Lost Valley of Acrea. You awaken to find yourself bound to Acrea by a crystal that has been pushed into your chest by Boji, a magical talking wolf companion, who has brought you back from the dead. You both set out on a quest to discover what mysterious power is holding you in these lands and how you can regain your freedom.
All the core mechanics of a Souls-like game are present here: bonfire checkpoints, parrying, dodge-rolling, and backstabbing for extra damage. The combat overall is very enjoyable but can feel sluggish and imprecise as you're forced to await enemies’ attacks and react accordingly, rather than wading in with your sword swinging wildly and being punished heavily for it. There's a decent variety of enemies too as you'll be facing knights, swinging swords; spiders, that’ll leap towards you; wild dogs, that charge headfirst; and various other mystical creatures with wonderous attacks. Every foe you face requires a different approach to takedown which makes encounters even more exhilarating.
As you explore the beautiful cartoony open world, you’ll gather resources scattered throughout for crafting weapons, armour, and ruins at the blacksmithing stations. Also, after defeating an enemy camp of soldiers, you’ll be presented with a chest containing a blueprint for a new weapon or armour piece with improved stats. There’s a good selection of weapons on offer, from sword and shield to spears and crossbows, each has its own stats determining its range, damage, speed, and control, allowing for some experimentation when combined with your chosen route along the skill tree. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done before but it’s always nice to have a little control over your character build.
Unfortunately, Stray Blade suffers from some rather glaringly obvious bugs. For starters, there's a horrendous user interface issue where a statistics box stays open on screen after closing the menu, blocking your entire screen forcing a reload. The other very noticeable problem is the frame rate, which takes a hit any time the game saves, loads, or enters/exits a combat encounter. Lastly, the map for navigating the world is tiny, requiring you to get out a magnifying glass to see anything.
Stray Blade is an enjoyable entry-level Souls-like RPG with a beautifully built world to explore. Its intriguing narrative and comical companion, Boji, will keep you entertained for its full 20-plus hour duration. Although bugs and frame rate issues are present, we would recommend Stray Blade to those looking to get a foot in the door of the Souls-like genre.